Google+ Beathearts: The Beathearts Mark De Clive-Lowe Sitdown Part 1


The Beathearts Mark De Clive-Lowe Sitdown Part 1

"[Dilla] made it okay for musicians to like drum programmers, that changed the world. Suddenly you got drummers checking out Dilla. It's funny, if I’m working with a drummer, if they haven't checked that stuff out, it's like we can not really communicate musically. That's part of the language now, which is amazing. One guy changed the language of music, that's incredible!"

Artist: Mark de Clive-Lowe
Event: Dwight Trible Cosmic Band live @ Fasching Jazz Club
Location: Stockholm
Date: April 1st 2012

Mark de Clive-Lowe is a musician, DJ and producer originally from New Zealand. De Clive-Lowe was born and raised in Auckland, and now based in Los Angeles since 2009 after ten years residing in London. He was one of the key musicians in the evolvement of the Broken Beat and Nu Jazz movement, blending jazz, ethnic music and urban grooves into a 21st Century sound.

He has been involved with over 150 releases collaborating with as diverse a range of artists. He also runs his monthly event Church in LA, New York and on tour. It’s an eclectic blend of sounds ranging from acoustic jazz, improvised electronic beats sessions, and live DJ sets with surprise guests ranging from Robert Glasper and Louie Vega to Leon Ware and Pino Palladino.


It's a snowy and quite chilly Sunday April 1st just after 8 PM when Dwight Trible Cosmic Band enter the stage at legendary Fasching Jazz Club. It's Dwight Trible on vocals, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on violin, Mark de Clive-Lowe on keys/piano, Trevor Ware on bass and Dexter Story on drums.

After a great show we meet up with Mark as he's standing and talking to Opolopo and Amalia, and we learn that they already know each other.

How did the two of you meet? Any joint productions?

I started hearing about Opolopo when he was releasing music and I'd get promos sent to me. We met one time that I was in stockholm for a show. Amalia was there too and I'd already met her from when I was in Vancouver for a week in 2006 recording the Politik album during downtime on my Canada tour with Bembe Segue. We've never done any collaborations.

Any other Swedish connections? There are a few that might have crossed your path like Melo, Rasmus Faber, Pure P, Adam Beyer, Jesper Dahlbäck, Alexi Delano? 

Yeah, Mad Mats, he released my production for Lady Alma "Running for Nothing". And I did a twelve [Keep it moving] quite a long time ago for a label called Funk of Fury, they were based here. And then, I did some stuff with Andreas Saag, a down tempo thing. That was cool, because Dilla had just died, and Andreas sent me this thing. It was like beautiful strings, live recorded stuff, so I just kind of in the headspace of Dilla just resampled it all and put it into the MPC, so the tune starts, and the first half is live recording, and the second half goes into more of a beat thing, that was a lot of fun.

But yeah, there's a lot of great talent here, I know of Rasmus Fabers work, I never met him, and the other names I know of but haven’t met them.

Andreas Saag aka. Swell Sessions vs. Mark de Clive-Lowe - All of Me

Great performance tonight, how did you meet up with Dwight Trible and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson?

Dwight and I met, we actually met in London very briefly once, he was in a show, and it was the first time a heard him, said wow you´re amazing, just kind of in passing said hello.

And then when I moved to LA, I actually met Miguel first, at a jam session near Skid Row, downtown. It's a crazy area, but it was a jam session down in a studio and no one knew who's gonna be there. There was rumor that Zap Mama was gonna be there, but the guy organizing said you gotta come. I cant tell you who's coming, but if you don't come you're gonna regret it. So I went down, and there was Zap Mama, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Computer Jay, Miguel, Nia Andrews. There was a whole crew of people, so I met Miguel at that time, and we didn't connect ‘til a bit later on, but that's when we first met.

Later, when I was making my album I wanted strings on one track, so I hit him up, and he was more than happy to do it, so that's when we started working more together.

And then as for Dwight, I started a monthly party in LA called Church. Before I moved to LA I was kind of been running away from the jazz musician side of me. I was like, no I don't play piano anymore, I produce and the remixes and whatever. But in LA, I couldn't help it, it kept coming back to me, so I started this night with Church.

It starts with a jazz trio and then it becomes more and more beats and live remixing as the night goes on. Dwight would come down and check it out, he loved it, he jammed a few times. And then Trevor (Ware) was playing bass with me, and Dexter (Story) started playing drums with me, so they were saying to Dwight, you gotta get Mark in the band, we need Mark in the band. So I joined the band, at the same time as Miguel did pretty much, and it sort of came together so organically and beautifully and it works. This is a band, not just a group of musicians playing together, its a band.

So you do this tour in combination with the Church tour?

Well, we're doing a Church night in Lisbon tomorrow, but with this band. So the first half will be like Dwight's set, and then it will be more and more my kind of tip. Two of the shows will be with Build an Ark and Carlos Nino. It's really unique and special vibe we all have together.

Build An Ark ft Dwight Trible - Peace and LOVE! (Trevor's Mood)

The first time we discovered your music was when Gilles Peterson and Benji-B first dropped Heaven part 1 & 2 back in 2005. It’s such a classic track and we were hooked from the first few bars. Could you tell us the story of how that tune came about?

I was working on that album, Tide's Arising. I think when I started working on it Dwele's demos was circulating a lot. It was before he dropped his first major label album, but there was always demos coming through, and it was so fresh hearing his shit. Between him, Dilla, Slum Village, Soulquarians, that was a huge influence, so Heaven and another joint on the same album called Quintessential, those were kind of my homage and acknowledgement to the American influences.

I actually sent the beat for Heaven to Dwele, that was before Bembe (Segue) did it. We met briefly, but didn't really connect. It was funny, because when the album came out, he's like “Yo, me and Waajeed are listening to your record, and that Heaven track it's amazing, man!” and I was like, that's the beat I sent you man! Haha!

But it was cool, because Bembe did an amazing job on that and she really brought it to life. I mean, she and I had just started working together properly when I was making that record. I though she was gonna guest on one track and she ended up doing most of the record, and that was the start of our collaboration/partnership.

Have you done anything with Dwele later on?

I've worked on a remix with Aaron Ross for him. We never done anything directly, but I mean, he's one of those guys where, if were in the same place we catch up, hang out a little bit, and I love to at some point do something with him. I think he's a really cool talent.

The video for Heaven is beautiful but pretty out there. It has sort of the same vibe as Dilla’s Nothing like this (Ruff Draft). What is it about? How did you come up with that concept?

There was a video company in New Zealand who wanted to do the video. They had a concept and storyboard and everything, and I said well okay, you do your video. I didn't have a vision for a video at that time, so I was curious to see what they do. Then when it was all done, that's what it is. No, so I got no great story to share about that, haha! No acid trip, it was nothing like that.

Mark de Clive-Lowe - Heaven feat. Bembe Segue (2004)  

Beatmakers and drummers are a great source of inspiration for us. People like Karriem Riggins, Madlib, Questlove and of course Dilla's music was one of the main reasons for us to start writing about soulful underground music. We know the keyboard/piano is your first language but are you a drummer/percussionist as well?

When I do my own live shows, with the MPC or the machine, all the beats get programmed live. I start the show with nothing basically, like the show last night in London. I have acapellas on the turntables, and then I build the whole tracks as they happen. So I love that, I love programming. I think I'm a frustrated bass player and a frustrated drummer, so when it comes to making production and making beats, I love that side of it. Drums and bass, that's two things I love. I've never played kit as such though. I played a little bit of percussion, but not actually a live drum kit.

But yeah, all those guys you mentioned are huge influences. And on the more dancefloor tip, Kenny Dope, is a huge influence. Bugz In The Attic and of course all the west London crews that came trough, like IG Culture and Afronaught.

Speaking of Kenny Dope, one of the first post here on Beathearts was the true story behind the Nervous track. How a bored Kenny Dope put together all the different jazz drummer loops and called up Nervous label founder Mike Weiss in the middle of the night wanting him to sign the track over the phone.

Yeah, I mean, it's a classic! You drop it today it still sounds like it was made tomorrow. It's incredible!

Nu Yorican Soul – The nervous track (1993)

What does the creative process behind a new Mark de Clive-Lowe track look like? Is it like a jam session where you pull out the best parts? How does a new track come about?

It's very organic. If I'm doing a remix, there was a time when it was like a huge process of worrying about what I was gonna do and being stressed about trying different things. Now if I'm doing a remix I just sit down and do it. Whatever comes out, that's how it is, I don't question myself. I just have trust in my own intuition with that.

When I’m working on tracks for other people, like I just did the new album for Sy Smith, I know what she likes. She likes really lush harmony, and a little bit jazzy, so I kinda shaped it for her.

And when I’m making my own stuff for myself, I like to always try to do something different that I haven't done before. There's a overall sound that people can recognize, like on my new record Renegades, there's some joints that, I never put those approaches and vibes on a record before.

I like it to keep changing, but I do like it to be super organic. Sometimes I go see a drummer and just play for a day. I mean I've got HOURS of me, Pino Palladino and a couple of other different drummers just playing. I mean, there's albums right there, you know it's crazy. There's a couple of joints on the Renegades album that were from studio jam sessions. Two interludes where this great drummer Louie John Roberts, he played with like Prince, George Duke, Lucy Pearl. We just went to the studio and played all day, and the two interludes on the album are from moments in the studio.

Listen to the Renegades Interludes I & II HERE.

So, speaking of Sy Smith, there's a Billy Ocean cover on the album, was that your idea or hers?

That was her idea actually. We had almost finished the record and she had that idea, so I just made the track basically, which was great, it was like a good learning thing. It was funny, growing up, like a jazz musician, especially when you're young musician, you transcribe solos, and learning solos, learn by copying, so it was cool to do the whole track like that. I just remake the track.

Sy Smith & MdCL - Nights (Feel Like Gettin' Down)

How do you feel about music you've done in the past, do you ever listen to your old records? Do you feel that you've evolved musically and personally touring over the years?

I'm thankful that I'm always changing, and growing and evolving musically and personally. I feel I have a strong connection between my personal growth and my musical expression. It's not like, you know some people make pop music and their personal life is a whole different thing.

I keep it all together and I like that. I feel that if I enjoyed making something, whenever I hear it again I can still feel that vibe. If I really hated making something, then I have trouble listening to it again. That doesn't happen with my own music, because if I don't like it I wont put it out. But that's happened on keyboard sessions sometimes. I remember when I started working with Phil Asher in the UK, there was a couple of sessions, I just couldn't do it! And he's like "It's great, it's done!" And I said "No it's not done" and later when he was spinning that track, and I was like "Oh no don't play that…” haha!

But you know, I'm really hard on myself. A harch critic of other people and on myself. I think that helps me trying to keep the quality at a certain point. There was an album I did called 6 Degrees, it came out 2000, and when I listen to that, production-wise, I hear the difference between then and now, what I did, very clearly. But I still feel very close to that record, I feel like it was an honest expression. And as long as it's an honest creative expression I can listen to it anytime, that's where I was at.

Mark de Clive-Lowe - El dia perfecto (Six Degrees LP 1999)

How did you get started music wise?

My dad made me start playing piano when I was 4 years old. So I grew up playing piano all my life. In high school I've gone to Native Tongues hiphop. Even early Teddy Riley and stuff like that, I was loving that! I felt that the musicality of his soul productions were incredible. So I bought some drum machines, some keyboards, and all that stuff. I didn't know what I was doing, but I was 14-15 years old and trying to make beats, thinking I was gonna be Teddy Riley, haha!

Guy - Teddy's jam part 2 (Live @ Arsenio Hall) 

Did you get a vocoder as well?

Haha! Nah, I never got that vocoder. It was interresting, because one day I was like, I don't wanna do this, I just wanna work on the piano. So I sold all my equipement, all my records and just had the piano and the jazz records and went with that for that for a long time. And it wasn't until jungle happened that I got back into club and listened to more sample based music. When I heard that I was like wow, this is music!

I was in New Zealand then and before that, it was all acid house rave stuff. Now I can appreciate [those genres] for what it is, but back then I was like, “What is this? I don't get it”. I had friends go out clubbing to that. But when jungle came along I was like, “I get THIS!” Haha!

And then it was stuff like 4hero and a joint called Loveless, that was a seminal track that definitely kind of changed the whole way I thought. It's Dego and Ursula Rucker basically, and the Roni Size record (Reprazent - New Forms 1997) that was a big moment for me hearing that.

Then when I went to the UK, my first two sessions, one was for Dave Angel, doing like a crazy techno jazz thing. The track with Dave is a track called Live jazz. I dont think it was ever released. I probably have it on a minidisk (!) somewhere.

The second was for Metalheadz with Sci-Clone (Hold on 1999). So going to the UK, not knowing what I was doing, and starting with one of the kings of English techno and the best drum & bass label, I was like okay, now what do I do? Haha!

Sci-Clone ft MdCL - Hold on  (1997)

Did you ever work with Photek or Mark Pritchard?

No, I've never worked with Photek. I've worked with Lemon D quite a bit, and A-Sides, but never with Photek. It was great hearing that music, because it was so fresh and different. And then when I was in the UK in 1998, and seeing people, especially the west London crews, IG Culture, Bugz in the Attic, Phil Asher and Dego. Seeing them using drum machines and samplers, and as a trained musician knowing they weren't trained musicians, and hearing what they were making inspired me so much. Wow, this is the shit! So I bought an MPC and made a record. And from then on, that's what I was doing! Haha!

And as for Mark Pritchard, I never worked with him, but we talk now and then, but we never collaborated. But that would be interesting, he's a really dope producer, everything he does is so interesting, he does so many different styles.

Kinda like you, that's why we thought of him.

Haha, I guess so. That's a good idea! I'll drop him an email.


That's the end of Part 1 of our sit-down with Mark de Clive-Lowe. Check part 2 below where we discuss Mark's inspirations, get more into depth about his Church live concept and get an insight into amazing the underground scene in New Zealand: The MdCL sit-down part 2

As a bonus here's DJ Spinna's epic mixtape of some of MdCL's best work to date:

Download: DJ Spinna – Best of MdCL mixtape

1. Freesoul Sessions - EP1 Part III (Live) (Antipodean)
2. MdCL - Koko + Lee Roe (Mashibeats)
3. MdCL presents Rahel - Hope (Mashibeats)
4. Mark de Clive-Lowe feat Bembe Segue - Heaven (ABB Soul)
5. Mark de Clive-Lowe - Pino & Mashi (ABB Soul)
6. Mark de Clive-Lowe feat nia andrews - We Renegades (Tru Thoughts)
7. The Politik feat Blu - Moonlight (Antipodean)
8. Isoul8 + MdCL - Stop Bajon (Archive)
9. Lady Alma - Running for Nothing (Antipodean)
10. Mark de Clive-Lowe - Just Wanna (Tru Thoughts)
11. Mark de Clive-Lowe feat nia andrews - The Why (Tru Thoughts)
12. Omar - Your Mess (MdCL remix) (Tru Thoughts)
13. Zed Bias feat Toddla T & MdCL - Koolade (Tru Thoughts)
14. Mark de Clive-Lowe feat Omar + Sheila E - Get Started (Tru Thoughts)
15. Sandra St Victor - F.M.A.O.-ocity (instrumental) (Strategic Soul Ventures)
16. MdCL - Eight (Mashibeats)
17. Shirley Horn - Return to Paradise (Mark de Clive-Lowe remix) (Verve)
18. Mark de Clive-Lowe & Olatunde - The Calling (Mashibeats)
19. Phlash & Friends - Running feat Shea Soul (Archive)
20. Shafiq Husayn - Nirvana (MdCL remix) (Plug Research)
21. Alison Crockett - When I Think of You (Mark de Clive-Lowe remix) (Sol Image)
22. Aaries - Don't Give It Up (MdCL remix) (test)
23. Mark de Clive-Lowe feat Abdul Shyllon - Relax… Unwind (MAW Records)
24. The Politik - Money (Don't Let It Catch Ya) (Antipodean)
25. Mark de Clive-Lowe - Slide (ABB Soul)
26. DJ Spinna feat Ovasoul7 - You Should Be Loving Me (Wonderwax)
27. Yameen feat Lady Alma - Light of Love (MdCL remix) (Rumble Pack)
28. Sole Fusion feat Vee - I Got Rhythm (Dopewax)
29. MdCL presents Sy Smith - Truth (Strictly Rhythm)
30. Incognito - Feel The Pressure (Mark de Clive-Lowe remix) (Dome)
31. MusicLoveLife - The Bass that Don't Stop (Nepenta)
32. Mark de Clive-Lowe - El Dia Perfecto (Universal)
33. Ed Motta - É muita Gig Véi !!! (MdCL remix) (Ether)
34. MdCL feat Bembe Segue - Love Broke (Mashibeats)

0 reactions: