Music interview: Mark Professor
Mark Professor is a record-collector, selector, MC and recording artist. He’s currently causing quite a stir with his very catchy new single “Oystah Card” which is being championed by DJ’s such as David Rodigan and John Kennedy and Mojo Magazine, which listed it at number one on their monthly playlist. 25ThC caught up with him to find out more:
Your latest track is called “Oystah Card” and was produced by and released on Wrongtom’s label Rongorock. What inspired you to write about London’s famous pay-as-you-go transport card?
Building lyrics about topical subjects has always been my thing as an MC. Being an avid commuter, it was only fitting to build a lyric about the transport system.
What was it like working with Wrongtom and how did the collaboration come about?
Wrongtom is an associate member of the Wreck It Up crew. We did an event where we both performed. He heard me MC and liked what he heard. He then asked me if I could MC at an event he was doing with Rodney P. It was there he heard me do the ‘Oystah Card’ lyric and asked me to record it for him…….and here we are!
Does it give you more freedom to write and release exactly what you want, being based on a small label?
It surely does. Wrongtom is a visionary and an avid dancehall fan. His Rongorock label will be the dancehall imprint of releases such as ‘Oystah Card’ and a slew of other ones he is working on, so watch this space! Tru thoughts is backing him with this, which allows me the creative freedom to express myself on a number of topics.
Will you be following up the single with more releases and perhaps an album?
Yes I have a follow up single and an album in the making, there will be a lot witty topical lyrics there……….and then some!
You have worked with some pretty big names over the years and Wrongtom told me that you have a lot of stories. Can you tell me one?
As well being a member of the Wreck It Up crew, I am also in a sound called Stereo City who is a reggae subsidary of the Soca Saga Boys. We have cut dubplates with quite a few reggae artist over the years, without going into too much detail, but this can be quite a costly thing. As a record collector I have amassed a lot of tunes by many artists. One particular artist was so impressed that I had every record they recorded, they did not charge us. The world of reggae has many characters, there are some other stories, but they are best left out of print!
With such a large record collection how do you decide what to take out with you when you DJ and are there any records that are constantly in your record bag?
Depending on the event, I will select accordingly, but I will always bring all styles as you need to be able to take the crowd on a musical journey. A tune I never leave home without is Leroy Parker ‘Groove With It’. I take it everywhere! Even when it isn’t called for!
Which of your records is your pride and joy and is there any “holy grail” records that you are still searching for?
There are so many tunes that are my pride and joy, but to narrow it down to my personal all time favourite record is ‘There’s Fun For All’ by the Browne Bunch which came out in 1973. When I started collecting in 1979 I was drawn to Lovers Rock, so I have always been partial to buying vocal tunes that had that sweetness about it. So a lot of what I collect for personal pleasure has this sweet melodic overtone. This record has it all!
There is an endless wants list, one of the many tunes on this list is to find a good original copy of Henry Buckley ‘With a Girl Like You’.
Reggae and dub is cropping up in some unlikely places at the moment and I saw that you went out to play in Guernsey recently. How was that and how big is the scene over there?
That session has to be one of the best events we have ever played! The vibe was electric. It would not have been possible if wasn’t for my brethren and label mate Deemas J. He has been introducing reggae there by hosting events at a venue called the townhouse. He and his sparring partner Limey Banton had previously held Drum and Bass events with reggae and a splash of soca too! But ours was the first unadulterated Reggae event. It was a massive success and we can’t wait to go back. Deemas has literally single-handedly created a reggae scene there, so nuff respect to him.
Can you tell me a bit more about the Wreck It Up Crew and what you promote?
The Wreck It Up crew started in 2009, the vision of its founder member Eli to play reggae cross the board and not just specialise in one particular style. The difference between us and other crews is that we play the whole spectrum of Jamaican popular music on vinyl. You find that most crews specialise in a style, Some just do roots, some lean heavily down the ska and rocksteady route, some only do connoisseur events, or more to the point most of them don’t have a team of MC’s like we do, or have a sound system too. At our nights you can expect to hear ska, rocksteady, dancehall, Lovers Rock, Bashement, Rub-a-dub, new tunes, old tunes, classic party tunes and the ultra rare exclusives. From its concept, it has now grown to a fully fledged team that has an array of talents to enter a venue and do what it says on the T-Shirt ‘Wreck it up’. It consists of myself Mark Professor (MC and Selector), Papa Eli (selector) Junior Kickstart (Selector), UB Nice (MC) and Gadman (MC)
Which current artists are you following that we should check out?
I spend most of my time hunting old records more than new ones, but for current artists, I would say Romain Virgo and I Octane.
Interview by 25ThC