New album from the man with music running through his veins
Since the 1980s Marc Mac has been delivered his sophisticated take on urban soul to the planet of dance. Somewhere in the timeline whilst producing music for the likes of Roy Ayers and Terry Callier, Marc started another project called Visioneers. The new album ‘Hipology’ is a cool, funky eclectic mix of breaks, beats, soul and jazz, just as you’d expect from this genius London musician…
Words : Dan Prince
Marc, massive welcome to DMCWORLD dude. An incredible new album ‘Hipology’ swinging our way – some brilliant hand picked guests and musicians featured. When did the idea for this long player begin?
“The idea had been lingering in my head for some time, over a year. Making the recording took some time not because it was a long process but because I really wanted to have the right cross section of music to back up the concept. I’m always writing and sketching ideas but for this one I didn’t want to force it, I just waited for the right track to come along.”
Who were the artists you were really happy to grab into the studio for this release?
“Well I’m pretty happy about all the guests on the record I think these cats really turned up! I already worked with TRAC & Baron on TRAC’s album last year and Roshin (Notes To Self) and I did a collab for a mixtape project, John Robinson & Jimetta put down what I think is the album anthem. Yeah I’m pretty happy.”
What is your personal highlight of the album?
“It’s hard to pick out one specific moment, I always enjoy hearing a piece of music I’ve written played by the session musicians for the first time, I also really enjoyed engineering and recording this album. I suppose the way how “Oil & Water” came together is a highlight, it has that fusion modern hip hop lacks these days; Beats, MC’s and a DJ. DJ Dopey former DMC World Champion cuts up the hook on the track.”
You are quoted as saying that hip hop has been a guiding hand in your life. Can you elaborate…
“Yeah it’s like the force in the Star Wars movies, you move in a certain way because of it. I was brought up listening to Soul and Reggae as a very young kid but Hip Hop was the first music I fell in love with. Throughout my teenage years I travelled to NY because of hip hop, started to collect breaks, jazz and music in general because of hip hop, dressed and even had a mixed up London/Yardie/Yankee way of speaking because of hip hop. As a producer the hip hop influences still push through almost anything I do.”
You have been wowing audiences with your sophisticated take on urban soul since the late 80s. Who then were your early influences musically, that set you down this road?
“I’ve always liked the producer/arrangers like Charles Stepney, Richard Evans, Roy Ayers and the Mizell Brothers and then there’s the whole electronic and sample based influences like Marley Marl, Ced Gee, Pete Rock, Premier and techno producer Mad Mike. The record that made me actually want to make music was’ Planet Rock’ and I had a real push from Jazzy Jeff’s ‘Touch Of Jazz’. Hip Hop put me in battle mode as an early producer and that attitude got me into producing Jungle because of the wildstyle way of programming break beats.”
Just for fun – let’s look ahead to the next album. Who would be your dream collaborations?
“Just for fun.. Q-Tip and Nas would be dope. I’ve worked with Roy Ayers on 4hero’s album ‘Creating Patterns’ but I think he would be cool on a Visioneers record also with the late Minnie Riperton singing the hooks. You did say dream, right? Well Marvin Gaye would be super dope too.”
You signed to Gilles Peterson’s Talking Loud Records in the late 90s – what did you love about his label that made you sign?
“It was a very forward thinking label with Omar, Young Disciples and at that time they just signed Ronnie Size and Masters at Work so I knew they had a very open minded. That signing worked out great for us and Giles and Paul Martin gave us so much space to develop the 4hero sound.”
Where were the early clubs that saw you jumping around back in the day?
“I never really jumped around, I was always probably deck watching or leaned up against a wall. From a very early age I had a sound system and then went on to form 4hero and Reinforced records so I ended up playing out practically every weekend, not much time for personal raving. I did however make the effort to see most of the US acts coming over for shows. I seen Beastie Boys to Juice Crew, Mantronix to Public Enemy live.”
What are the 10 most influential records in your life and why…?
“This question is too big, so I’ll try to keep it simple. And off the top of my head…”
Minnie Riperton – Come to My Garden – Just a magical album arranged by the great Charles Stepney. The album didn’t sell when it originally came out in the late 60’s and took generations after to realise classic this is.
BDP – Criminal Minded – The first hip hop album where I wanted to listen to the MC more than the beats although the beats were truly heavy also.
Ultramagnetic MC’s – Critical Beatdown – My fave Hip Hop group of the 80’s and 90’s never let me down with this. Standard issue for any hip hop soldier.
Horace Silver – Total Response – One of my fave Jazz albums. I came across this while searching for breaks and from that point on I realised that I just wanted to collect and enjoy Jazz without looking for samples. Check the lyrics on this one, for ya mind and soul.
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Afro Blue – When you’ve finished with the Horace Silver album put this one on and sit back. Class.
Various RARE – 1987 RCA Rare groove album compiled by Dez Parkes and the Underground Family. This came out during the massive rare groove scene that kicked off in London and went global. One of the best comps I have; this taught me so much about US Soul and Funk music. The individual albums from each artist on this comp could be in my top 10.
The Soul Sonic Force – Planet Rock – Although I learnt a little Tenor Horn and Guitar in school I never thought about actually wanting to make music until I heard this. Then I bought a drum machine.
Universal Robot Band – Barely Breaking Even – This record sums up the word ‘Boogie’ to me. Leroy Burgess is Boogie. Big childhood classic dance track, remember hearing this blasted on my first trip to Notting Hill Carnival.
Bob Marley – Natty dread – For a kid in a Jamaican household Sundays went like this: Sunday School, Rice and Peas and then Bob Marley music. This is my fave Bob Marley Record not too much UK/US overproduction going on here, just roots.
Jay Dee – Donuts – The art of sampling. Love all the sample flips the techniques from time stretching to note shifting. This album is like the handbook for the new beatmaker.
You have produced music over the years for some amazing artists. Who were you most proudest to work with and why?
“Jill Scott was great we did “Another Day/Gotta get up” which we both put on our own albums. I love when artist can see past the demo and allow the producer to expand. Terry Callier is a wonderful spirit, he turned up on foot to our Diollis Hill studio alone (no entourage) with a guitar strapped to his back. We talked music for 5 minutes and then he headed for the vocal booth.”
If you hadn’t have become a musician, what other career path do you think you would have chosen?
“A record shop owner or a second hand vintage games console dealer.”
What has been the proudest moment of your career to date?
“Getting the Mercury Prize Nomination and MOBO in the same year was cool but not as cool as becoming a father twice.”
“Kool Herc. Claude Young, Pogo, Bizniz, Cutmaster Swift, Fabio, 45 King, MAW and Mike Allen.”
Guilty pleasure record?
Chris Brown & Elmo – See The Signs (Sesame Street)
And finally – what are your next plans studio wise?
“Well I think it’s about time for new 4hero music, I def don’t want such a big gap before another Visioneers album so I may follow up with more 7” pressings and I got a lot more electronic music projects to drop.”