Fresh Off the Boat brings international electro/jazz lord Mark de Clive Lowe to Oma on Saturday. BOOM’s Jules O’Brien finds out a bit more over an interview with Mark…
How do jazz festivals compare to other festivals? (Mark has played at festivals across the world such as Montreal Jazz Festival, Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Amsterdam Drum Rhythm Festival,London Jazz Festival, SildaJazz, Jazz A Vienne)
Festivals have become so eclectic now – there’s a lot of crossover between them no matter what they call themselves. When I play a jazz festival I’m usually playing for a younger crowd at a late night party and there’s dancefloor action going on. Maybe jazz festivals provide a broader range of music where there are some more traditional performances as well as contemporary ones, but for the most part I just love how eclectic any festival is. Especially when it gives me a chance to check out something new to me as well!
What have been your favourite collaborations so far?
They’re so numerous – collaborating is one of my favorite things to do. The project with the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra was amazing – to perform with a full big band and blend that with the electronics and beats was really special. About ten years ago I did a day of studio in Miami with Lauryn Hill. That was amazing – a tiny studio with just the two of us playing music all day long. I’ve had memorable collaborations with people like Sheila E, Omar, Nia Andrews, Pino Palladino, Leon Ware and many more.
You have an album set to be released in May called CHURCH. Has there been any particular concept behind the album, or new approaches that you have explored? Why is it called CHURCH?
CHURCH is the name of my Clubnite Live project that I’ve been doing in residence in L.A. and N.Y.C. for the past few years. It’s equal parts jazz club, live remix experiment and dance party. I always have the full live band joining me – bass, drums, horns, vocalists, and guest DJs who embody the spirit of the party. We’ve had Spinna, Rich Medina, Questlove, Lefto and plenty more. The album captures the clubnite vibe and is the next step in building it worldwide. We call it CHURCH because it’s a celebration of music, dance, community and being alive!
What do you think is the beauty of mixing jazz music with electronic sounds? What do you think it adds?
For me it’s always about finding the balance between man and machine; between electronic and organic; between breath and electricity. Jazz music is an entirely human approach to music with so much improvisation, and acting spontaneously in the moment to the moment. Electronic music is, generally speaking, pre-determined before a performance and a machine, on its own, cannot make any on the spot decisions based on how a moment feels. So give all that, bringing the two together has been a natural and really rewarding experience for me. On top of that, electronic music audiences are getting used to someone performing with a laptop and just pressing ‘play’. It’s important for me to bring the musician back into the music.
Which is your favourite process, writing, production or live performance?
I love it all. They’re like different variations on the same thing. When I perform live I’m producing on the fly, writing on the spot. When I produce I’m slowing down the same process but aiming to achieve the same kind of energy. When I’m writing, I’m composing with the live performance in mind. They’re all so intertwined and I love all three!
Do you think jazz is the sexiest type of music? Why/why not?
It can be for sure! If the listener is open to it then it can inspire the senses in so many ways. With the electronic sounds and grooves there’s so much hump in the music so you get the fun and the depth. When music is done right, it’s one of the most arousing things there are.
How does it make you feel? Do you ever find creating new music is therapeutic?
All the time. When I am performing or composing, how I am feeling and what I am experiencing is hardwired into what I am creating. There’s a definite link between them. If I write or produce when I’m going through something particular, then that experience gets captured in the music – that’s therapeutic for sure. There are plenty of times I’ll be having a weird day and then by playing a show I’ll feel so much better afterwards. It’s medicine for the soul.
What is the longest set you have ever played? Do your sets ever change depending on your mood?
Every set is different – because I create from scratch every time, every set is influenced by how I’m feeling, where I am, the vibe of the audience, the sound system, even if I’m hungry or not! I think the longest I played was a 5-hour live set at a warehouse party in Sydney, Australia. I was having so much fun with it and looked at my phone to check the time and it was almost 6am! Once I get in the zone I can go into a bit of a time warp – especially with the solo live sets, in which I’m essentially creating records beat by beat, moment my moment. If the vibe is right, there’s no reason why that has to end.
More information about the event on Saturday can be found [here]