Mark Raison – Hey! Mr DJ

Mark Raison – Hey! Mr DJ

This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Hey! Mr DJ

Mark Raison is based in London, UK and describes himself as a Slapdash writer for MonkeyPicks and DJ for anyone who asks. He took some time out recently to talk to Dr. Robert @ Nutsmag.

1. How and when did you get into music and what were you listening to then?

Seeing The Jam play ‘Absolute Beginners’ on Top Of The Pops as a twelve year old was the moment music snapped into place and became an all-encompassing passion. It wasn’t the song as such – which was slightly baffling – but the combination of the music and Paul Weller’s striking image: the sunglasses, the hair, the attitude. There was something extra, a sense that music wasn’t always frivolous entertainment but could be something of worth. That performance opened the door to much: the obvious 60s mod records and – more relevantly and more lasting – to soul music. It was a life changing three minutes.

2. Where was your first DJ slot?

At The Villa in Uxbridge, 1989, where a friend and I put on a weekly night called, unimaginatively, Move On Up. It was a strange mixture of Paul playing disco, Philadelphia International stuff, 70s funk and me playing Northern Soul reissues and cheap originals. It didn’t last long but was enough to give me a taste behind the decks.

3. What was your most memorable DJ spot?

After running Shake! in Bethnal Green every month for five years I called it a day. The night was in some ways the glue that kept a lot of people together and was a brilliant period, totally immersed in R&B and soul and partying. Playing the last few records on the closing night and seeing friends and club regulars dancing wildly (drunkenly) and cheering was unforgettable. Also, all the times I’ve DJ-ed outside the UK have been very memorable. It’s always deeply flattering to be asked to do any gigs but to go to other countries to play records, well, it doesn’t get much better.

4. What so far, has been your worst DJ experience?

Having people take shelter in the DJ booth whilst a gang of marauding rhythm and soul hating locals whacked women and children (maybe not children) across their heads with chairs wasn’t much fun.

5. Your favourite scene DJ’s and why?

Ady Croasdell as he’s guided purely on the quality of music and the interests of the audience and can play something amazing only he has access to next to a five quid record. He’s not about ego or rarity for rarities’ sake. Also, like Ady, Alan Handscombe is generous with his huge knowledge and keen to share. People like Ady, Alan, Jo Wallace, Chris Dale etc – and many others, to be fair – never try to adopt ownership of the records they play. They belong to – and are the result of – the artists, writers, musicians and producers whose talent created them. DJs are simply delivery people.

6. What has shaped your DJ sound and why?

Generally I like to play records that pack a bit of a punch, whether they be hard R&B, horn-stabbing soul or driving instrumentals. As funds are scarce nowadays, it’s meant I have to dig deeper to find more interesting affordable stuff. I can’t justify paying hundreds of pounds for a record anymore, even if it is tempting. Someone in Spain once said after a set that I DJ-ed with my own personality. Not sure what that is but I thought it a nice thing to say and I’ve kept it as a bit of guide ever since.

7. What was your best ever find/discovery?

On the basis of best quality/relative obscurity I couldn’t believe my ears or luck when I bought Grover Pruitt’s ‘Little Girl’ on Salem some years back. It remains fairly unknown yet it always packs the floor and is among my very favourite records. Dancefloor dynamite!

8. Who are your favourite artists?

Curtis Mayfield, both with The Impressions and without; Mavis Staples, both with the Staple Singers and without; Reggie King, both with The Action and without. I’ve such an emotional attachment to all three voices; they regularly bring a lump to my throat.

9. Do you collect specific labels/artists/genres?

I own all Bob Dylan’s albums! But no, as far as DJing goes I adopt a fairly scattergun approach to collecting as my tastes are pretty wide but am gradually, almost inadvertently, building complete sets of Etta James and Lightnin’ Slim 45s and James Brown LPs.

10. Where can folks currently catch your DJ set?

At the Mousetrap on 30th November and then whenever that nice Rob Bailey fella asks me again. I also pop up now and again at Sidewinder plus I do a more varied set for Jukebox 7’s and Idle Fret.

11. What is the record you would most like to own?

Al McCarther’s ‘His True Love For You’ on Two Guitars Records. Such a beautiful, lilting sounding record yet heartbreakingly sad.

12. Please give us a top 10 all time favourites and a current top 5 spins?

Oh crikey, I wouldn’t know where to start with an all-time Top 10 list.

These are my five current spins:

1. Grover Pruitt – Little Girl (Salem)
2. Lonnie Hewitt – You Gotta Git (Fantasy)
3. Big Maybelle – Do Lord (Brunswick)
4. Roosevelt Grier – Since You’ve Been Gone (RIK)
5. Ronnie Milsap – A Thousand Miles From Nowhere (Scepter)

Web Links:

Next Club Spots:
Saturday 30 November 2013 – Mousetrap R&B Allnighter, London

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I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: for rare vintage vinyl.

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November 7, 2013 By : Category : DJs,Front Page,Interviews,Music,RnB Tags:, , ,
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