"Let's just say I don't walk under any ladders when I walk into a record store. I want a good day."
Whether you believe in superstition or not, there's no doubting that the methods by which this man chooses to live his life have done nothing but propel him to fantastic heights. The past two years have exposed the explosion of a career that has spanned almost two decades, beginning "when I was about 7 years old. That's when I started playing drums. My dad had a heavy jazz influence on me and I was listening to a lot of rock, new wave, everything."
Those days eventually proved the catalyst for a faithful evolution into the fresh and exciting world of hip-hop. "There was always music in me and I always knew I wanted to do something rhythmic. When I was 12 or 13, my best friend, who I used to breakdance with, his uncle had turntables. I was watching him and was going 'oh my god this is everything that I'm about.' It fused all the different parts of my personality. That was back when break-in' was gelling big and I was a kid and energetic, so it was perfect timing. If hip-hop were to be discovered right now, I'd miss the boat. It really shaped who I am today."
Today DJ Nu-Mark is one-half the production and DJ-team (the other being some guy who goes by the name Cut Chemist) for Jurassic 5, the group that most critics and fans credit with making hip-hop interesting and intelligent again. After watching their junior effort, Power in Numbers, fly off shelves worldwide, Nu-Mark realized the timing was perfect to focus on releasing a few projects of his own, the first being Blend Crafters (Up Above Records), an instrumental EP born from a reminiscent rendezvous with the glory days of beat tapes, "Some of it's old, some of it's new," Nu-Mark reveals. "It's a project that has been in the works for years employing 'some of the beats that J5 couldn't rhyme over because there wasn't enough room and lots of other fun surprises."
The second project is 'Hands On' (Sequence Records), Nu-Mark's first official mix CD. Before daring to pass this off as a just another mix, consider not only scratches, programming, and mixing courtesy DJ Nu-Mark with featured cuts by MF Doom, Organized Confusion and Vitamin D, MC duties by J-Live and fellow Jurassic 5 cohort Chali 2na, but also international underground hip-hop from France's Shurikin, Scotland's All Time High and Germany's Schlechta Umgang, showcasing everything from Japanese to Australian and French MCs.
"Realizing that people never really give international music any credit here in the states." Nu-Mark made it a priority to expose some of that to his listeners at home.
Even with his success, Nu-Mark claims to lose sleep over "what I have to do, what I could have done better, what piece of music should go with another piece of music, worrying about my little sister, bills, finding out that I don't have my own sewage system in the house that I just bought, everything."
But as far as music goes, persistence and passion have been the key.
"I don't believe in any shortcuts, I don't believe in the lotto. I just never had that train of thought."
"I've become a lot more independent and I don't even get nervous when I go onstage. Unless my equipment doesn't work, I'm ready to go!"
Though his well-documented perfectionist tendencies "sometimes pisses them off [the members of Jurassic 5]," Nu-Mark acknowledges that "I'm lucky enough to have some guys that trust me, that come out and go 'ok, ok, alright, I'm feeling' that.'"
And judging from the overwhelming international response, they're not the only ones. Jurassic 5 is leading a new school of positive and hopeful hip-hop funkology and DJ Nu-Mark is a tenured professor.
In addition to touring with Jurassic 5 and producing their new album, watch for Nu-Mark a la carte at more than a handful of shows promoting both Hands On and Blend Crafters throughout the summer.
(This was originally published in WAV Magazine, which gave birth to Kotori Magazine, in the Summer of 2004. Click here for a PDF of the full print magazine, which also includes interviews with Ozomatli, Dillinger Escape Plan, Shepard Fairey, the Mars Volta's Ikey Owens, Congressman Henry Waxman, and much more.)