Marcus Nasty: “I can’t explain why, but I love it.”

25.09.09 Words by: Charlie Jones

MARCUS NASTY is a new man. Previously the head of grime legends NASTY Crew , the collective that once had JAMMER, NEWHAM GENERALS and KANO in its ranks, the Plaistow DJ’s undergone a bit of a makeover. Now playing the roughest ‘n’ toughest ends of funky, Nasty is, along with younger brother and fellow NASTY alumni Mak 10 , the scene’s most thrilling DJ. No wonder then that London pirate station RINSE FM added him to their roster at the start of the year and why he’s been chosen to mix the latest volume of their compilation series, Rinse:10. “When I turn up to a rave, I want everyone to see that it’s not a grime thing,” he says on the phone from Manchester where he’s playing tonight. “My name was quite messy before, and I’m not trying to be that person anymore. If I’m playing somewhere, you don’t want some guy who looks like a fucking nutter. So I try to come across as nice as possible. I’m slicked up.”

What’s your Rinse:10 CD like? Is it like one of your radio sets?

It’s like what I would play on radio, what I like. Very fast paced. I wanted to do it ages ago. In fact, I wanted to do a series of mix CDs. If I get the chance, I’m gonna do a straight up street CD, a hood CD of instrumentals. I’m gonna go hard. Snappy, fast mixes. But this one is a mixture. I know that just instrumentals don’t do it sometimes.

Your sets are pretty fast and furious – does that approach come from grime?

Yeah, but d’you know what? Mak 10 showed me how to mix so I kinda followed what he was doing. He is my ultimate inspiration in this. But I do prefer that. To me it’s like if you keep them coming, it keeps the people on their toes. That’s the whole aim. I have had some people say ‘you play some of the tunes too fast’, but I think if you’ve heard a tune too long, it just dies. And some tunes ain’t that strong, so you have to keep it moving. Another reason I used to mix fast at first is ’cos at first there weren’t enough good tunes and as I was getting tunes in, I didn’t have time to listen to them. I’d go on radio and if a tune didn’t sound good, I’d just mix it out really quick.

When did you first get interested in music?

My dad plays the drums, and I’ve got uncles who are musicians. Plus my dad used to be a sound man as well. He used to DJ. So it’s from birth. But I didn’t find that I really had an interest in it ’til later on, when Mak 10 introduced me to the decks. I was about 21. It was during the garage scene, around 2000.

What were you playing?

At first it was proper garagey. I had some El-B stuff, some Steve Gurley, Ray Hurley. People like that had the more exciting sound for me. And then Sticky and all that lot came along.

What happened with NASTY Crew?

NASTY crew came about from me basically just trying to find local talent in the ends. I wanted MCs, but I didn’t see that it would go in the way of hip-hop. I just wanted to get a load of talented people together. An entertainment thing. And then to be honest, I disappeared for about two and a half years, Jammer was left running things, Mak 10 too obviously, a few more people came around like Kano, and when I came back around, it was just different. I weren’t really interested in the grime scene. I was playing it but my heart weren’t in it. With grime, I was in there when it was all still fun but it started turning more and more dark. It weren’t a raving t’ing, it’d be just everyone fighting. It just got shit. So when I managed to find funky, I jumped in head first.

When did you get into house?

About three or four years ago. When I first went to Napa. Everyone started going on to house. And house ain’t what I like at all. Well I do, and I don’t. It’s too soft. I couldn’t sit down and listen to house for more than half hour, not that other funky house that was getting played at first. It’s Barbie music. But people were playing it.

So I just ran out trying to find people who had tried to make house. That is how I started this. I wanted to go Napa, I knew that there was grime and garage out there, but I wanted to do something on my own. So I just went and bought a whole heap of funky records. I went to Rhythm Division and a couple of other shops, said ‘what’s in right now?’ and I went to Napa, after about a month or two of mixing the stuff. I done really, really well. That’s when they called me Marcus ‘Ayia Napa’ Nasty.

When did you notice the sound was coming into its own?

At first, there weren’t no UK stuff, I think the first UK tune might possibly have been Gallium by Wookie, but that didn’t get shown much ratings. People started dabbling in it, but no one thought our work was any good ‘cos it didn’t sound like house. It had the house overtones, but the rest didn’t sound like house and we didn’t know how to make it sound like house. But I just carried on. I didn’t give a shit. I was saying ‘This is our thing, we should play this’, and as I started playing it, more and more people started selling it to me. At first, I started off with Apple, Wookie, all them guys, Invasion Records, a couple of tunes from them, but that was it basically.

People seemed to really sit up and take notice when you did the shows with Mak 10 on Déjà Vu last year…

I just enjoy mixing with my brother, ‘cos I learn all my tricks from him. I’m really honest when it comes to where I get my stuff from. If I think I’m falling behind or I’m not doing something right, I say ‘Mak let’s do a set’. He keeps me on my toes. That’s the one guy I love mixing with all the time. I am known for not liking going back to back with anybody. But Mak 10 and another DJ called Wigman, I would say ‘alright, cool’.

Do you have similar tastes?

Yeah (laughs) ‘cos everyone else is still trying to find this house, this house sound, but the tunes that are actually going off and doing well are the tunes that sound like they could be garage or grime or jungle. They have them strong influences. That is where we came from. Them tunes are the ones that made everyone pay attention. Why can’t we play a part in the global house scene with our own brand of house?

Where do you see funky going now? Do you think it will stay underground or can you see it crossing over like garage did?

It’s starting to get recognition, so hopefully it can. But when it does that, once it goes a bit commercial, that’s when it can go pear-shaped. I just love being able to play to people. I remember when I was getting paid £50 for a rave so I appreciate the fact that I can get paid more than that. But I don’t take the piss. The scene will fuck up if everyone starts to charge mad money. It’s not big enough for all that yet. That’s why I really try and push everyone in the funky scene. If I find someone who can sing, I put them up on producers. I get people onto radio stations. I think if you ask most of the DJs and producers in this scene, even the MCs, a lot who I have to turn the mic off on (laughs), I’ve even helped them. I’m so not just about myself in this scene. See, this new funky sound, I can’t explain why, but I love it. You would not see Marcus Nasty raving and dancing before, but now you do.

Marcus’ Rinse 10 CD is out November 16

Marcus Nasty’s myspace

For more on Marcus’ alma mater, check out Sunil’s guide to Rinse FM.

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