Marky: 'I try to surprise the crowd and surprise myself'

DJ Marky talks about his decades on the decks

Marco Antonio Silva, aka DJ Marky, is returning to Beijing after almost a decade. The Brazilian spin-master began playing clubs in São Paulo at just 12 years old eventually gaining worldwide recognition working for BBC Radio 1. Ahead of his show in Beijing, we talked to him about his eclectic style, massive record collection and what his decades of experience have taught him.

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How did you get your start in music?
My dad used to play old acoustic guitar, bass and all the chord instruments. He was old school and believed if you want to learn you needed to learn by yourself. I listened to a lot of DJs on the radio. When I was 10 years old I started mixing and when I was 12 I was playing clubs.

Were your parents supportive of you doing music as a career?
My mom and dad used to buy loads of records so I have a massive collection. I have 28,000 records or something like that. I am addicted to vinyl and I buy records everyday. I grew up with music in my life in the beginning and since I was very young. So I have a lot of passion for music.

So do you have a room entirely for your records?
I have one small room in my apartment where I can keep about 10,000 and in my old room at my mom’s house I can keep like 15,000.

For someone who started on reel-to-reel tapes, have you resisted some of the technological advances over the last couple decades?
I started editing on reel-to-reel tapes making my own tracks. I use turntables because for me they are something that not everybody can control. They intimidate people. I don’t play with CDJs because it’s so easy and the machine does everything for you. In my point of view you just press play and play so much music that just sounds like a massive salad, if you know what I mean. I still play with turntables and love them. I am not against CDJs. Everyone plays what they are comfortable with and for me turntables represent the DJ.

I use Serato to be honest. I would love to play all my set on vinyl like back in the day but unfortunately you can’t always carry all your vinyl. I used to carry like three boxes. First time I went to Japan, I used to carry three crates of records plus I used to buy loads of records in Japan because Japan has loads of record shops. It’s a great place to buy records, so I would come back with five or six crates of records. I miss those days, but I can’t be a hypocrite because Serato helps me a lot.

It’s just the feeling when you play with turntables is amazing. I try to surprise the crowd and surprise myself. I don’t plan my sets because I don’t know what the crowd wants to hear. It’s too much marketing and not enough music. People don’t play good music anymore. Everybody cares about marketing. The DJ needs to be a promoter, film when you play, Instagram and build up your name. Talent doesn’t mean anything. That part is really sad. Talented DJs don’t have the same bookings as they did back in the day.

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So you don’t like the social media aspect of your job?
I got career around the world and a career in Brazil. Everyone is doing Instagram and Facebook, so I constantly have to check them. I need to see what’s going on with DJs. I even have personal problems with my girlfriend because she thinks I am trying to look at women’s pictures, but really I have to be on the forefront of what is happening. For me music comes first, but for most that takes a backseat to media.

You are categorised as a drum and bass DJ, but with such a huge vinyl collection you must play a bit of everything.
I play a lot of disco, funk and soul sets. I love it because that is where I came from. I grew up with disco, boogie, funk and soul. I did a compilation called ‘Influences’. I made one about five years ago and now on the 19th of May volume two will be released. Loads of disco, Brazilian, acid house, techno and drum and bass. At the end of the day I love music. I am DJ – I am not just a drum and bass DJ.

What about the music you make?
I am more a DJ than a producer. I need inspiration to make music I don’t just sit down in the studio and make it. Sometimes I am in the street and see a kid playing or a homeless person and I find inspiration. I know when I feel comfortable to make it so I don’t pressure myself to sit down and work on production.

When I make music the most important thing is that I focus on how the audience is a going to dance. A lot of people forget about the groove and the funk and just talk about technology. The most beautiful thing is music that makes people dance. I like to arrive early and see what the warm up DJ is playing so I can read the crowd and see what they like. I use the dance floor as a test. I like to play brand new tracks because I like to teach the crowd.

What was your experience in China back in 2008?
It’s quite different from Japan, which has a quite solid scene. It was a good time and they played good music. I hope the scene hasn’t grown just because of the EDM sound. People have forgotten about a lot of good music. I am very, very, very excited to come back to China. I was complaining that Jane [from The Pie Society] hasn’t booked me again so I am really excited to come do my best. I hope everybody is going to love it.

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Since you are playing a drum and bass night, for someone who isn't familiar with drum and bass where would you tell them to start?
Probably start with something mellow like Calibre’s ‘Even If’.

What do you listen to first thing in the morning?
Very rarely do I listen to drum and bass at home. Most of the time I put my iPhone on shuffle, so I am listening to funk, disco, house and slow jams.

You clearly chose music at an early age, but if you were do to something else what would it be?
I have no idea because I always wanted to be in music. When I was very young I wanted to be a fireman, but music is what I know. It’s what I know how to do. To be honest I wonder what I will do when I retire. I have been in this game since I was 10 years old. It’s quite a deep question for me I really don’t know. I would like to do music for cartoons as well. I need to learn to play piano more and take a course to learn how to compose.

As someone who was a real part of Fabric, what did you think of the whole save fabric campaign and the drug culture that surrounded it?
It’s a tricky situation. Everyone supports Fabric. I used to have a night at The End for five years then when they closed so I moved to Fabric. I was really sad to see it go and we all worked to help the campaign. It sounds a bit strange, but a lot of people that supported Fabric don’t have bookings there anymore. It’s good to have Fabric back. The club scene there would be a mess without them. I even started a campaign in Brazil that people donated money to and people have asked me when I will have my night back and I don’t know. So it’s good the club is back but no one knows how it is going to be there.

If you were to name a drink after yourself, what would it have in it?
When I’m DJing I don’t really drink. I am really concentrating. Sometimes I drink but I am not fussy about being like ‘where is my drink?’ I like champagne and vodka. I’m not against anything, but what drives me crazy is music. Music for me is the most important thing. Nothing else makes me in that state of ecstasy as much as music. Music blows my mind. That’s my thing. My job and my child – that’s all I need.

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