Interview With Marc Kinchen (MK)

As I have mentioned umpteen times at this point, Marc Kinchen, aka MK, the legendary house music (or is it garage?) producer and remixer, is going to be djing for Icee Hot, Saturday July 30th, at Public Works with his brother Scott aka Scottie Deep and Todd Edwards. I’ve been mentioning it a lot ‘cos I’m just a wee, tad, bit excited and delighted about it. Marc took some time out of his busy studio schedule to talk to me on the phone and answer some questions about music, rekkids and the like.

Q. Marc, you had already put out a few releases in Detroit that were causing a stir when you moved to New York. People like Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson were based in Detroit and got their music around the world, what made you decide to move?

A. Well, I was working mostly with Kevin, Kevin taught me a lot. I saw that they all had their own labels and I watched what they were doing. In my spare time I made music, I pressed “Burning” for fun and the next thing my phone was ringing off the hook. I was 18, and I got a call from a guy at Cardiac Records (a Virgin side label) called Ramon Wells about licensing the record. I had a girlfriend in NY, Kevin Saunderson’s management, MCT, was there, and I thought that if I moved I could get hooked up with them. So I just moved and gave it a shot.

Q. Your sound at that time had a lot in common with Todd Terry, Masters At Work, Mood II Swing, Smack Productions and Kerri Chandler. Did you feel a strong affinity with those artists? Did you feel that this was a new sound, a modern garage sound, something that would influence other artists. Or were you just doing what you do? Also were you listening to these artists when you were in Detroit.

A. I wanted to be part of that, I loved MAW, Todd Terry and Kerri. I listened to their music when I was in Detroit. And when I met Todd he was very welcoming, and even though he sampled the bassline of ‘Burning” I didn’t care, he was my friend. Then I met MAW and they are my favorite producers and because we liked each other’s work it made it so much easier to be friends. It got to the point where I was calling up Kenny and Louie on the weekends and asking them what they were up to.

And that’s the way it was, people hanging out, like we would hang out with Roger S and the Murk boys. In the early ‘90s I didn’t dj and there was no internet, so I had no idea people liked my stuff. I would go to clubs sometimes and hear my remixes and see people going crazy to my stuff and then I would get it. I still have unreleased remixes that I thought were great, lying around gathering dust, like a Michael Jackson dub I did, which was never released. I lost that though. I have no idea where it is. If I had been a dj back then I would have been able to play these out and gauge the crowd’s response.

Q. While you were in New York did you keep an eye on the music that was coming out of Detroit? Did it still move you? Did you still feel part of it?

A. Once I got to NY I got really focused on NY because I always saw my sound as house not techno. Kevin was really the only one who supported me, no one else really said anything about “Burning.” When it came out the only thing people in Detroit asked me about was why I used that vibe preset that’s all over the Vibe Mix. Once I got to NY I never really cared. I’m still really good friends with Carl Craig though, we came up around the same time.

Q. Your remix of The Nightcrawlers’ “Push The Feeling On” got the ball rolling for you and you went on to remix a staggering amount of records for other artists. When you listen back to some of them them, are there any that you personally feel are your best, or that you especially like?

A. I was already doing 2 remixes a month when I got asked to do the Nightcrawlers remix. And even “Push The Feeling On” lay around on a British pressing and then six months later it blew up. I never felt a great peak of remixes after that, I was steadily getting 2 or 3 mixes a month and then eventually I was turning mixes down.

I actually like a lot of my mixes, but I rarely listened to them after they were completed. Sometimes I might go back to them and listen to them after a long time. And I wasn’t djing so I wasn’t getting the crowd reaction, I was turning in remix after remix and didn’t really get emotionally attached to them. After a while it wasn’t that much fun anymore, and that’s the main reason I stopped remixing. Maybe if I had been a dj I would have kept doing the remix work.

Q. Was it a conscious decision not to dj? Did you want to focus all your energy on production.

A. It was a conscious decision not to dj, I didn’t like the idea of traveling and I could make more money staying at home remixing.

Q. One of the artists you are playing with on Saturday is Todd Edwards, who took your cut-up vocal sample dub mix style and elaborated on it, and then his sound became a major influence on UK garage. A lot of your music could be categorized as garage, do you hear your influence in that British music?

A. I know Todd Edwards is influenced by me, I’ve read that a few times, but I don’t really know anything about the British stuff. There is no magical element in my dubs, people might think there is, but the real reason I would do dubs is because I didn’t feel that the melodies were strong in the vocals, so I would chop them up in new melodic ways to make them more interesting.

Q. Now you are involved in major artist production, working in state of the art studios. This might sound silly, but do you ever miss the days when you were set up with a couple of bits of gear and a small mixing board? Do you prefer the big studio situation?

A. I really miss that, because it wasn’t the same kind of pressure. The big studio pressure takes the fun out of it. When I was in New York there were only about three remixes that I did in a proper studio.

Q. You’re producing tracks for major artists like Pitbull and also making house music. Is there a way to connect those worlds?

A. Not really, those are two entirely separate worlds. I’m a producer at heart, I produce. But now I have a label with my brother Scotty and DJ Buddha (Pitbull’s partner) and it’s strictly a house label, Say Ah Records. We haven’t released anything yet, but are getting ready to. See you Saturday!!

And we will see you on Saturday for a large slice of house (or is it garage?) history and what should be a rockin’ good time.

Chris Orr

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