He has a legendary record collection, plays with children’s toys during sets, and nearly became an X-ray tech instead of a musician. But you probably know him best as one of the guys behind the turntable in Jurassic 5. DJ Nu-Mark will be flying out to join us for New Year’s Eve, while he enjoys a bit of respite from the music industry grind. I caught up with him on the car phone while he was driving his girl to dinner:
MAUITIME: Have you been to Maui before?
DJ NU-MARK: I’ve been here for vacation but this is my first time playing on Maui. I thought it would be a great way to cap off 2016. Too many deaths of too many great people. All of them sucked. Bowie sucked terribly. I keep telling everybody we better shrink-wrap/bubble-wrap Stevie Wonder because he’s one of the last ones left. We have to preserve him.
MT: Finish this sentence–if I were a Maui promoter:
NM: If i was a Maui promoter I would be all over all the talent because every musician DJ drummer guitar player band would absolutely jump at the opportunity to play anywhere in Hawaii. Really, if you guys think about it, you guys have the pick of the litter. Most of us musicians go, ‘Oh Hawaii, I can take the time off of my crazy schedule and people will leave me alone because they’ll think I’m actually touring and working.’ Which you are but you build in some time to relax which is so vital in this industry because we have a tendency to go, ‘Oh my god, the rug is gonna get pulled out from under my feet.’ So we just work ourselves into oblivion. When you have a destination like Hawaii or Bali, you build some relaxation time in there no matter what because there’s no sense in going to paradise if you’re not going to kick up your feet and drink something stiff. You guys have the pick of the litter.
MT: What gets your blood pumping as a DJ?
NM: The complete autonomy that I have. I can jump to any song I want I can move to any tempo. I’m not stuck in my own catalog or tied to songs with my group, or anything like that. I can just move around very swiftly, which I love. It keeps things fresh as a musician. We have a tendency to rehearse our own songs or listen to our own catalogue 19 million times when we record it, we mix it, we master it, and then we got to perform it. So by the time you perform a tour’s worth of your own material, you get burned out on your own songs. So playing other people’s songs is great! Finding out similarities and levels of contrast between Song A and Song B is just so much fun for me. I’ve been doing it for 29 years now and it never ceases to amaze me the types of similarities that still exist out there that I never paid attention to. I love discovering the significance between songs that weren’t meant to be played together.
MT: Vinyl or electronic?
NM: Lately I’ve been doing these DJ mixes on my Facebook that I call Zodiac Tracks, where I gather all the tracks from artists that are in the same zodiac sign and I mix all their music together, whether it’s young or old. All this time that I have been on technology, Serato is the tech I’ve been using that is as current as I can get. I’ve been thinking, ‘Oh yeah this is very similar to vinyl.’ But then when I went back to vinyl, I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is nowhere near–this is much harder than I remember it being.’ I remember all the little blunders and the records skipping, or you might have a slight warp in a record. All those little, you know, obstacles really woke me up again to DJing. I think, ‘Wow, I really appreciate all the technology that’s around me but I also have newfound appreciation for vinyl again: how precious it is, how delicate it is.’ I really love the tools that are out there now. I’m the last person you will hear judging someone on what they use to move a crowd. I won’t say, ‘Oh, they’re not using turntables, and they’re wack!’ I’m not that guy. I’m more like, ‘Hey, how is this person using the tools?’ Because there’s a lot of amazing technology out there. We have it at our fingertips, it’s just how you use it.
MT: What are you looking forward to doing on vacation?
NM: Mama’s Fish House is my first destination–planning to do the backstroke in some wonderful seafood. I’m moving so much throughout the year that I like the time to kick up my feet and do nothing. My girlfriend, however, is different. She likes to climb mountains and swing off trees, run barefoot naked through the woods. I know nothing about that. My idea of camping is the Marriott.
DJ Nu-Mark will play Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia on Dec. 31. Doors open at 9pm. Tickets are $30-35 presale.