Publication: Where @ Magazine
Article: Mark Grant / File Under House/Sound Design Vol. 2
Author: Matt Schantz
Reference: Page 19/Volume 4/Issue 3
Mark Grant is a house DJ. From Chicago. Credentials enough for you? How about remixes for Cajmere (aka Green Velvet), Braxton Holmes, and Julius Papp, a significant back catalog of his own production output, and two mix compilations? Grantís funky, soulful blend of house music, ranging from deep to jazzy, to Latin, takes him all over the U.S. and Canada, satisfying house heads everywhere. His latest release ďSound Design / v2Ē (released on Om Records) showcases the Mark Grant sound Ė ďVolume OneĒ was mixed by California house fixture Marques Wyatt, so you know heís in good company. Concerning the electronic dance music scene, particularly house, Mark says, ďHouse music is similar to a long-term stock investment. Its popularity goes up and down, but at the end of the day, itís still there, and it grows, and itís still all good.Ē Word.
Where@: House music (followed shortly thereafter by techno) is the foundation and point of origin for all electronic dance music; what is it about house that drew you into spinning the music? My oldest brother, Jerome initially started experiment with spinning house. A friend of his made a mix tape that I listened to over and over. I would go to bed with the headphones on and wake up to it. I fell in love with House at the point. I canít describe what about it I loved so much, but I knew it was for me.
Where@: Certainly houseís influences are seen in almost every form of electronic dance music. With the current music / club climate leaning towards the sounds of progressive house and trance, how strong does house music seem in 2001? Itís still strong. House music is similar to a long-term stock investment. Its popularity goes up and down, but at the end of the day itís still here and it grows and itís still all good. Iíve seen that in my own city and in other cities around the world. Different derivatives of house or electronic dance music become popular and House takes a hit and then the popularity of these newer styles dies down and then House becomes the thing again.
Where@: When people ask you ďWhat kind of music do you spin?Ē Is there a particular style you lean towards that accurately describes a Mark Grant set? When people ask me what kind of music I spin I usually say House. Just because if I go into further description theyíre going to get confused, especially if theyíre not familiar with electronic dance music. Itís hard for me to define or name my style of house. I dig many styles of what I feel is House. (deep/moody/jazzy/vocals/dubs/latin/sampled/filter house, funked out and so on) I think the factor that make it Mark Grant is putting together those different styles of House and making transition and movements in my set that fit together. Which is best described as tension and release. This is what I went for with Sound Design V2. Incorporating different styles of House and creating tension and release, creating a balance. In my live set, in incorporate partly of fully my realm of House music depending on what, when, and how long Iím playing. If Iím playing a massive party and my set is an hour and a half and Iím playing smack dab in the middle of the party youíre probably going to hear more tension. If Iím spinning at the beginning or end or somewhere in the night leading up to the middle you probably going to hear more release. This requires a lengthy or somewhat lengthy set and experienced listeners and dancers. Thereís nothing better than taking a dance floor on a journey and through different emotions of House and them appreciating it. (Was that a long enough answer, did I actually answer the question).
Where@: Iíd say so, that was a good answer. Have you ever experimented with musical genres radically different from house during the course of your career? Yes, some I donít care to comment on, but Iím sure everyone has their stories. But, generally Iíve always had an appreciation for different music styles, not all of them, but most. Iíve vibed to Rock, Jazz, Motown, Hip Hop, R&B, Drum and Bass, Disco, Latin, Trance ( just kiddin about trance) and so on. There are significant treasure in all those styles of music that relate to House and me. The reason I mentioned earlier about not commenting on some is due to the fact that early resident DJ gigs in Chicago killed my appreciation for some of those treasures for a moment because club owners and the crowd were stuck on stupid musically and I was fighting with them to progress.
Where@: Describe the different satisfaction you get from producing in the studio, vs. playing a live set. Producing in the studio is cool. Itís a very personal experience because my audience is me. I can explore my creativity in different manner than I probably could get away with on the turntables. I could try to fuse reggae and classical or something strange like that. You may not ever hear it, but in some manner, it progresses and develops my creativity. Iíve always loved deejaying, because I love music. Deejaying allows me to extend my creativity on top of the creativity that is already in the songs, through programming and technique. Also, itís a very good feeling to express creativity on the turntables and for an audience to appreciate it.
Where@: Word association time: Give us your brief opinions on the following DJs:
Green Velvet / Cajmere Ė crazy/creative and funny.
Danny Tenaglia Ė inspired and gave me more confidence in my quest to familiarize my Chicago club audience to deep house, after listening to him at my first WMC conference (93, 94, or 95, canít exactly remember what year) after listening to him spin deep/moody house and vocals at a moderate tempo and the audience responding with plenty of energy. This was hard to sell to the Chicago club audience at the time.
Marques Wyatt Ė Dope DJ, great ear for good music, good friend.
Where@: Tell us about the new album, ďSound Design v/2Ē Ė what can people expect to hear when they put it on their stereo? I incorporated different styles of what I know as House on the CD (deep, moody, jazzy vocals, funked, disco, Latin and soul house, plenty of adjectives), or as much as 74 minutes can hold. (check out the Sound Design V2 tour date (www.djmark-grant.com, www.om-records.com, or www.tildawn.com) coming soon your town for the extended effect of the CD) I included brand new songs and some of my favorite classic house records, used acapellas to accent instrumentals and programmed and applied all these elements together on three decks. Iím happy and content with my effort and outcome of Sound Design V2 and Iím certain the consumer will hear it and feel it, and therefore like it, but Iím shooting for loving it.
Where@: The music business is very much just that Ė ďmusicĒ and ďbusinessĒ. Do you have a difficult time reconciling your art with the business side of things, and does the business ever interfere? Yes, Iím sure this is something that every artist or most deal with. I deal with it quite much. But there is always a simple solution for me and that is referring back to the 12 year old Mark Grant nagging mom about a dj set up and the 15 year old Mark Grant using his brother Brianís keyboard, drum machine, microphone and 4 track to create his own versions of the house songs he loved and still loves. The setups are more elaborate today, but I still get that same positive rush of emotions about it, today as I did then, because I love it. But the point still remains, no one is going to take advantage of my love. Balancing these two things keeps me sane.
Where@: What does the second half of 2001 hold for Mark Grant? Of course, finishing the Sound Design V2 tour and finishing some of my latest productions. Continuing to prosper in my personal, creative and business endeavors and continuing to be thankful Iím living what I love. Everyone is not fortunate enough to say that.