DJ Nu-Mark plays with the presence

Jurassic 5’s DJ Nu-Mark, who brings his Toy Set Tour to EscapeMTL’s Xmas party at Cabaret Underworld tonight, on collaborating outside the old crew, making Broken Sunlight and keeping up with hip hop.

DJ Nu-Mark

In the old school, if you got knocked sneakin’ toys into class, they got locked in the bottom drawer. I wonder whether Cali-created crate curator DJ Nu-Mark (of dearly departed rap revivalist outfit Jurassic 5) ever dug into a teacher’s desk to retrieve the goods at recess.

Nu-Mark has fun post-J5, but he ain’t playin’ around. A collabo-driven LP, Broken Sunlight, pierced the early winter clouds just this past Tuesday, breaking dawn ray by ray, track by track over several cycles.

Now available as a package in multiple digital and physical forms, the crown jewel marries mediums with a deluxe package delivered in a custom-designed, headshell-shaped USB flash drive harbouring a hip hop fool’s ransom of sound and image.

Nu-Mark’s celebrated solo “toy set” is a veritable tickle trunk of childlike playthings dressed up to slam the floor harder than a two-year-old tossing a tantrum. If you’re on the nice list, witness it yourself tonight at EscapeMtl’s Christmas party — and we’re telling you why.

Darcy MacDonald: Was the process of releasing collab tracks one at a time any easier than trying to assemble so many players on a single deadline?

DJ Nu-Mark: I guess it’s always a headache no matter what you do with the stuff, whether it’s me doing it myself with instrumental beats or with MCs or singers, because you’ve just gotta work around everybody’s time schedule, or tour schedule, or everything else in between. So it’s always a challenge and I always expect that, and it doesn’t really bother me much.

DM: When last we spoke (March 2011), you told me that the title of the album, Broken Sunlight, reflected the feeling that a lot of things you’d been going through were “broken.” You mentioned the break-up of Jurassic 5, economic fallout from the state of the music industry, the economy itself, things like that. Is there a little more sunlight these days? Are things a little less broken?

Nu-Mark: I think it’s about the same. I mean, things are still a little broken up in my life, but it’s gotten better. I guess the sunlight part is me, in that title. I’m gonna forge ahead through trying times no matter what. That’s the original meaning of the title. But then there were just so many things relating back — things breaking up in my life, and, you know, the way I break up records to make new records, the way I wanted to break up the series. So everything was pointing to that, and it just made sense for me.

DM: What keeps you excited music-wise these days? So many producers I speak to tell me they only like “old music.”

Nu-Mark: I like Kendrick Lamar, and I like Drayz and Jarobi’s new record.

DM: No way! As in Drayz from DasEFX?

Nu-Mark: Yeah, and Jarobi from Tribe! There’s a ton of music out there right now! Some things just don’t get enough promotion, but that’s just an age-old situation that most artists are facing, so that ain’t nothin’ new. I try to keep as current as possible, whether that be new new artists or new old artists, you know what I mean? But yeah, I try to stay on it man.

DM: Please tell me how you came up with the concept for the needle case USB. Did that come to you in a dream? It’s so cool-looking, man. That thing is amazing.

Nu-Mark: My management and I were talking and we started going through all the marketing of having each release being a 10″ colour vinyl, and all those other parts. So we were like, “We gotta do something cool at the end of this, though. We can’t just say like, ‘Well, okay, and that was it!’” We had to celebrate it, and we started thinking of things that were in the shape of those flash drives everybody uses. The needle was definitely one of them, and it just kind of kind of came about. Originally, we wondered if we could use real DJ-quality needles and a USB, but that wasn’t gonna crack — that’s just a little too much technology for our budget at this point. But it’s good to dream big because good things come out of it.

DM: Last time we spoke, we hardly discussed J5. Do you ever miss those times, or are you just as happy to be out there doing your own thing, making your own way and leaving your mark on things — no pun.

Nu-Mark: (chuckles) Hey, good one! There are times when I’m on the road where I’m like, “God, I really miss the collaborative process, where I don’t have to go fishing for other MCs, or looking for this, or looking for that.” I miss the convenience of having a crew, you know, and collaborating with them.

And I also really enjoy taking a step in a very new direction, because I was always the one who wanted to hide behind my hat in the back. I didn’t really care much for being in that spotlight. And I hadn’t really pictured myself doing what I’m doing now. As a matter of fact, during those years with J5, I never really branched out or did much side production or anything. So it’s a little of both. You get into a mind frame of like, “Well, okay, now I gotta entertain all by myself!” So it’s very different, man. It’s very different. At times I miss it, and other times I’m like, “I can…I’m actually surviving — cool!” ■

DJ Nu-Mark and guests Scott C, Mark the Magnanimous and Artbeat Builders play Escape MTL’s Xmas party at Cabaret Underworld (1403 Ste-Elisabeth) tonight, Friday, Dec. 14, 9 p.m., $20

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