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http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/11/25/mk-the-legend-returns/
MK: The legend returns

s introduced to the music of MK, aka Marc Kinchen, through listening to UK garage back in the early 2000s. His tracks have been constantly played by DJs since he first hit the house scene in the early 90s right up to the present day and this year in particular it appeared as though there was a huge resurgence in interest in MK and his productions. His most famous track is a remix of ‘Push The Feeling On’ by Nightcrawlers, but his back catalogue contains a wealth of timeless tracks all produced in his own unique style. A pioneer of sorts, MK disappeared from the house scene for a while, moving into the mainstream to work with superstars like Jay-Z and Will Smith. But with house music going through a renaissance, the time has come for the legendary MK to make a return.
So Marc how did the MK story begin? What kind of stuff were you into as a youngster?
When I was in ninth grade I used to listen to alternative music, I hated top 40 music. Depeche Mode are my all-time favourite and The Cure, Skinny Puppy, Ministry… just a lot of obscure, alternative music. A lot of it was done with synthesisers, that’s when synthesisers were getting big. Drum machines, samplers started coming out – that’s what got me into it in the first place, the technology.
So did you always have an aptitude for music or did you have to build your skills from scratch?
I built it up from scratch, I never went to school for it or anything. Later on though, I taught myself music theory.
Cool! So when you did you start to feel like you were onto something with your productions?
When Kevin Saunderson got in touch with me. The first song I did with Lou Robinson [1st Bass by Separate Minds], Kevin heard it and wanted to put it on a Detroit techno compilation. From that moment I started working with Kevin and Inner City in his studio. Then I was making MK records when I had downtime… and one of the times I had downtime I made Burning. Once I made that song, that’s when I really felt I was gonna have a career in music because Virgin picked it up and I ended up moving to New York, got given management. The manager I had, Marci Weber, was able to take what I’d started and turn it into a whole empire – overnight, remixes were coming in like every other day.


You seem to have developed quite a distinct style, how long did it take to develop this sound?
Not long at all, I think because when I first started production – even when I was 13 – I never did it around a crew, I was always by myself. For example, some kids I knew learned to produce but they always had people around them so their ideas fed into each other. But with me, I’ve always been into making music how I like it and I don’t really go off anyone else’s opinion and it’s been like that for so long that’s how I got my sound. I came out with a sound I liked and just kept using it… and fortunately, the first time I put a record out with that sound, people liked it.
And what kind of sound were you aiming to produce when you worked alone?
I liked to put stuff in a track that was interesting sonically and make people curious, so they’d be like ‘What is that? What IS that?’. My thought back then was if people are having a conversation and I can make them stop talking to try and figure out what was going on in my track… that’s what my goal was. Just to get their attention. And chopping up vocals, what better way can you get to do that because you can’t understand what they’re saying and you’re like ‘Hold on, hold on, what the **** does it say?’. And then if you make it melodic at the same time – you wonder what they’re saying and it sounds good – you got the best of both worlds. That was pretty much my goal and it still is my goal.
Well your stuff has certainly caught the attention of a few people in its time…
If you think about it instrumentals can be boring. Sometimes you can forget you’ve heard a song. A vocal adds a bit more colour and makes it memorable.
I first came to know about your music through UK garage, did you follow what was going on over here much?
Not so much there, but in New York yes. The deep garage sound, that’s what I love the most and it’s funny because I do pop music too now… but I still love the really, really underground, the dark not-overproduced deep house tracks.
It’s funny because your music has a real timeless quality to it. Like the Jodeci remix still gets smashed – I heard it only two weeks ago…
That’s crazy. I was DJing there [uK] last month and I played a lot of my records and, as old as they are they totally, totally worked. I thought that was really cool. I guess that’s because if you put the right elements in it and keep it minimal, it can be timeless.
Yeah I guess technology has changed, but the way tracks are put together is still quite similar to 15 years ago?
Yeah. It’s funny, I was the studio with Jamie Jones and Lee Foss last month and Jamie was playing basslines and it sounded exactly like what I was doing back then! Most new producers use a laptop and Ableton, but he had all this midi gear rigged up , I’m like ‘Mannn, this is like a time machine!’.
So what’s the deal with those two, are you working on stuff together?
Oh yeah. I’m doing the Hot Natured stuff with them. They’re my favourite guys right now. When I was working with them, I was playing basslines and anything I played Jamie was like [excitedly] ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’, I’m like wow this is perfect. We’re collabing on a new project too, kinda like how Swedish House Mafia did – we’re talking about doing something like that, which I think would be pretty cool.
You disappeared for a while to work on mainstream artists, what happened?
I got bored of house music, it got to a point where everybody wanted everything to sound like Nightcrawlers and it was kinda when house music started to die a little in America. A lot of the clubs were gone, it just wasn’t the same and I thought my career was gonna be over soon. So I found something else. I ended up working with Quincy Jones and a bunch of artists; Snoop Dogg, SWV, Jay-Z… I became really good friends with Jay-Z, that was cool. I’d go to clubs with Jay-Z, he would come by my house… and I met Will Smith through the same crew of people. I worked with Will for a couple of years, like personally. He built me a studio in Burbank, California. Unfortunately nothing really came out of it.
So now it seems like you’re making a comeback… What inspired you to return?
I’d be playing sets with other people’s stuff and there’d be a certain MK record I’d play and the crowd would lose it the same way crowds lost it in the nineties. I’m like ‘Cool, I know what to do now!’.
Do you keep much of a check on the house scene?
More so now because I’m playing out more so I got to keep up with my records. I like the Hot Natured guys, I feel like any of their records I can play out right now. Maya Jane Coles I like a lot too.
So now you’re back, what’s the plan for the coming year?
Back to full fledged MK, like it’s the nineties all over again. Every month there are gonna be at least two or more MK records. I’ll be on the road a lot more. Also, I’m working a lot with Willow Smith right, I just produced her new single, it’s called Fireball with Nicki Minaj. We worked on a new track last night, the album’s coming along really really nicely.
It must be cool to mix in both circles like you do.
Yeah it’s really cool.
And does everyone you’ve worked with know who you are?
Jay-Z doesn’t know that I’m “MK”… Because certain people in the pop world don’t know about the Lees, the Jamie Jones’, the different house producers, even though they’re popular. So then you end up singing the person the song, you know you go ‘I’m the guy who did the song that goes “Dun dun dun dunnnn”’ and that gets annoying. Even my wife doesn’t get it, I’m like ‘They like my music..’, she goes ‘No they don’t Marc!’. One day I’m gonna take her out and show her…
A compilation of MK’s tracks ‘Defected presents House Masters – MK’ is out now and available from www.defected.com

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