Thursday, September 29, 2005

They Came From Outer Space

Martian Gang (DJ Real and Shin-Ski)

DJ Real - " Mix" from (2005, independent)

Insight - "Bother Me (Shin-Ski RMX)" from Targeting Zones (2004, Bad News Records)

Time Machine - "Thinking About You (DJ Real RMX)" from unreleased (2005, independent)

Diggin’ Music
: Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions. For starters, introduce yourselves.

DJ Real: Wassup, this is DJ Real. I’m one-half of the production team, the “Martian Gang”. I’m also one of the best DJ’s that you’ve never heard of.

Shin-Ski: Hi, I am Shin-Ski. I am a producer/DJ, and half of a production team called “Martian Gang”. I am also half of a production/performance team called “Levitatorz”, which is me and DJ Ryow a.k.a Smooth Current. I play drums, percussions and samples all in real time on the MPC while he does all of the turntable work when we perform.

DM: What are some of your musical influences?

DJR: As a DJ my first influence was DJ Scratch from EPMD. I was a big fan of theirs and he would tear it up at the end of every track. Other influences are Mista Sinista, Roc Raida, Primo, QBert and Melo-D.

As far as producing I've been influenced by Marley Marl, Primo, J Dilla, Madlib, Insight and Pete Rock. I also should shout Shin-Ski out since he was the first cat I ever saw make beats and got me started.

SS: I grew up listening to many kinds of music from jazz, classic to Hip Hop, soul, funk and house. So every single music genre that I have encountered is my influence I would say. Hip Hop wise, Pete Rock, Beatnuts, ATCQ, Primo, DITC, Wu, Madlib and tons more. But most importantly, all the cats that I am really down with, such as O (DJ Real…I hate calling him DJ Real, so I’ll just call him “O” from now on [laughs]), Insight, Time Machine, DJ Ryow and more that I have personally worked with.

DM: What is your production/DJ equipment of choice?

SS: I use a Roland SP-808 for the main samples and efx, a MPC 2000XL for drums and some chop-ups, and a BOSS DR-202 Dr. Groove for basslines. I do all the recording on Pro Tools LE. I also use two Vestax Pro 2000 turntables and whatever mixer that works fine. Oh and of course, a bunch of wax!

DJR: As far as DJ'ing, I use Tech 1200’s and whatever mixer is not broken at the time. For beats I mainly use the Zoom SampleTrak, but Shin hooked me up with the MPC 2000 so I’ve been messing with that lately. I record into Pro Tools LE, so having a computer as a recorder makes using cheap equipment possible.

DM: DJ Real, as both a DJ and a producer, which is your true passion? Tell us about your progression from being solely a DJ to becoming a producer as well.

DJR: DJ’ing. I’ve always been infatuated with the scratching on records back in the day with groups like Run-D.M.C. and EPMD. I got my first table somewhere around ‘91-‘92. It’s something you hear often, but it really is a natural progression to go from DJ’ing to production. There’s some things that I think DJ’s hear that most people don’t. For example, from mixing acapellas over random beats back in the day, I can usually hear a beat or sample and have an idea of the type of MC or voice that would sound dope over it. Coming from the battle side of things, I was used to trying to make a new beat with two records and a mixer by beat juggling. Using a sampler is so much easier…(laughs). Oh, and don’t sleep, Shin gets busy on the tables too…

DM: So together you’re known as Martian Gang. How did you two meet? Roughly how long ago was this?

SS: We both attended the same school (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth), and I met him through a friend of ours. We both knew each other before I got to know him personally, but I was scared to talk to him (laughs). I think it was around 2000. At the time I was more into production and less into the DJ’ing side. Since I majored in music, I had access to the school’s finest music studio at any time. I would just go into the studio, experiment and produce many different kinds of music just for fun. One day I came up with this ill Hip Hop/breakbeat track and I wanted to have some cuts on it. So I asked O to fill in some cuts for the track. I think we never really finished that track though (laughs). Anyway, he came over to my crib or I went to his…either way I played him a bunch of tracks that I was working on at the time, and he just started sharing ideas that I wouldn’t have come up with. Since then we’ve been a team.

DM: Shin-Ski, you’re also one-half of “Levitatorz” with DJ Ryow a.k.a. Smooth Current. Same questions as before: How and when did you meet DJ Ryow?

SS: I met Ryow in Japan around 2002. I believe around that time we (Martian Gang) just finished the “Miami Vice” joint with Time Machine. I went back to Japan to settle the record deal for this joint, and I was introduced to DJ Ryow who did the remix for it. We just got along so well from the beginning. It was like I found a missing half of me in Japan. After I came back to Japan, I rented an apartment. That apartment happened to be real close to his crib, so we would get together and just talk shit for hours, even days. One day I was like, “Yo, ya wanna make beats with me?” and he was like, “hell yeah”. Since then we’ve been a team.

DM: As a pair you’ve produced for two of Boston’s finest Hip Hop acts. How did you end up hooking up with both Insight and Time Machine respectively?

DJR: I used to be heavily into battling. There was a DJ named Dusty Frasier who used to compete also. He was a good friend of DJ Mekalek so I’d always chat with him. After a battle once, Mek asked me if I would spin at his radio show at URI. In between then, I sent him some remixes me and Shin did. They loved them and would play them every week. Once I finally spun on the show, I met Jaysonic who was the host. Having heard so many beats, he was really interested in working with us.

As far as Sight goes…I had heard of him since “Universal”. When I heard “Updated Software” I was so impressed by the beats that I emailed him. It turns out he had heard my name around and he called me out of the blue. From the first conversation, it was like we knew each other for years. Originally I was gonna do some cuts for his new projects. Once we got together, he heard some of our beats and really wanted to work with us. He gave us a copy of the Electric EP and in a week we did all the interludes, cuts and some arranging.

DM: Shin-Ski, you had the opportunity to produce for The Procussions. How did this come about?

SS: Well this record label in Japan called “Miclife” had a remix competition for their album (Up All Night EP). I wasn’t really interested in this “compete with each other” thing because I believe making beats is not about competing with each other; it is more about competing with myself. Anyway, Miclife asked me to join this competition and since I had nothing better to do at the time, and also loved their rhymes, I did it just for fun. It turned out that the remix I did was picked up by The Procussions. It was a real great moment though, because they were definitely one of my favorite groups at the time.

DM: How does Martian Gang go about making one beat as two people?

DJR: Most of the beats we have done were done while we were roommates in Mass. Since we shared the same equipment, we would always work on each others’ beats or just give advice on a beat one of us started. It was dope because we both have our strengths and I could just leave a beat half-done and Shin would add another sample and a bassline and make it dope or vice versa. Nowadays we send files back and forth through the net.

DM: So, why the group name Martian Gang? Ya’ll happen to be from outer space?

DJR: Shin can answer that best. It used to be his name…

SS: Well this is a real funny story. Since I majored in music I had to take several music courses such as jazz ensembles, chorus and so on. When I had this annual chorus concert around Christmas season in a crazy gothic church, I was on stage with a dark Italian suit and bright red hair. One of the audience members at the chruch, who happened to be my friend, yelled at me “Yo Shin! You look like a gang member from Mars!”. I was kinda embarrassed at first, but then I was like “hmm, that’s kinda ill!”, so I came up with this “Martian Gang”. I really liked the sound of it too. Since I was a foreigner in the states, this gang from outer space concept just hit me. Also, it represents my hope that in the distant future, when people will be able to live on Mars, I want them to be rocking the real good music that we do now-a-days.

DM: Since meeting each other, Shin-Ski has moved back to Japan. Are you able to continue working as a group or are you now producing as separate entities? Explain this situation.

DJR: We try our best to keep working together, but of course it’s far more difficult with Shin being in Japan. The thing is, we’ve compiled so many beats while we were roommates, that some of them are still being released on projects to this day…

Being on our own, we’ve both perfected our own way to make beats and have become very efficient. We plan on linking up soon to knock out an album.

DM: Are there any MC’s out there you wish you had a chance to collaborate with?

DJR: There’s tons. I would like to work with some of the dope MC's that are slept on or don’t get enough credit…like Masta Ace, Devin The Dude, Motion Man, or Ed OG. Oh yeah, and Ghostface…I have this beat I’ve been holding for a minute and no one but Ghost can rock to it…

But I’m not someone who believes in collaborating for the sake of collaborating. If dope music doesn’t come out of it, what’s the point? Take De La Soul for example, every collaboration they have on their albums is dope. They never just throw Busta Rhymes on the hook just because.

SS: Yeah! Tons! Kurious, Al Tariq, Roots Manuva, Masta Ace, MF Doom, Quasimoto, Percee P, the D.I.T.C MC’s, BCC (Buckshot!), and many more. But basically I don’t wanna do cheap collaborations like O says. I am totally with that idea.

DM: Do you remember the first time you heard Hip Hop music? If you do, tell us about it. How about your first album purchase?

DJR: I was very fortunate in that I grew up around a pretty big family. As a real young kid, my uncles and aunts were in their teens and really into Hip Hop so I grew up around it. I remember the first song I knew the lyrics to was “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel. Of course, my family was amused by that and would ask me to kick that rhyme daily. I was the little kid that everyone would get to breakdance for entertainment.

As far as records go, I would always go to the record store with my uncles or even my mom and tell them to buy all the songs I liked. Then I would play them on my mom’s turntable while everyone chilled. As far as the first joint I bought on my own, I would guess it was either an LL, Run-D.M.C. or Kurtis Blow tape.

SS: Well I think it was when I was 13 or 14. It was around the time that Heavy D was real big. Heavy D’s song was on the radio every single day in Japan. I had never heard Hip Hop by that time, so when I first heard it I didn’t quite get it. Then years passed and I started getting into it more. I think it was after hearing Pharcyde’s first album “Bizarre Ride…” that I finally decided to commit my life to Hip Hop.

DM: What music are you currently listening to, Hip Hop or otherwise? What’s your favorite Hip Hop album from 2005?

SS: I listen to any kind of music. Lately I am in love with house music. Other than that I am deeply into jazz music. I also check out Japanese popular music too. Well I never buy those CDs though (laughs). So far the best Hip Hop album of the year is Common’s “Be”. This is it! I just love this album!

DJR: The best album so far this year was Sean Price's “Monkey Barz”, with Edan’s “Beauty and the Beat” and Common’s “Be” right behind. I’m looking forward to Little Brother’s next joint though, I know they’re gonna bring it.

DM: What future music releases are you a part of? What’s next for each of you?

DJR: Up next is Dagha’s album, “Object in Motion”. Me and Shin did about half of the production. I think a lot of people are gonna be impressed by how dope of an MC Dag is. Also, hopefully I’ll also be touring with Dag this year.

I also want to drop some “real” mixtapes soon. No one really does it anymore and I’ve already got quite a few done.

SS: Well, I did several remixes that are coming up within next couple of months. I did a remix for an MC from the UK called Funky DL. Me and Ryow did two remixes for Project Move as Levitatorz. I am also currently working on a project with Insight. This album is going to be real sick! I am releasing an instrumental album with my friends (Ryow and Grooveman Spot). These will definitely come out this year, and several more that are uncertain but may come out too. Also me and Ryow are working on a Levitatorz album.

DM: Martian Gang is currently part of Insight’s Last Arc imprint. Are there plans for a Martian Gang full-length? How about solo albums?

DJR: There will most definitely be a Martian Gang album. We’ll probably release it in Japan first, since we seem to be building up a following out there.

Eventually, I’ll drop my solo album. I want to make sure I take my time with it though, to make sure it’s not just another album. I’d like to do something different. These days, because of technology, “everyone” can make a CD/album. As a DJ, I hear a lot of CDs from cats that are good, but nothing stands out. To make an album worth listening to when everyone and their mom is doing what you do, it has to stand out.

SS: Well I am going to Boston this October to bang out an album as Martian Gang, so wait for that. I am also working on my solo album. I have pretty much all the beats done. I just have to offer MC’s to rip out ill rhymes. I can’t tell you who they are gonna be yet, but they all are real dope MC’s for sure!

DM: Any last comments?

SS: Yo O, wait for another two months. I will be there! And big up and thanks to Slade for the interview!

DJR: Shin, hurry up and cop that ticket over here so we can finish this album! …Oh and thanks for the interview!

DJ Real has supplied us with a mix he compiled for (dope clothes, don't sleep!), along with a few uncut tracks that were used in the mix. These can be downloaded at the top of the interview. The tracklisting for the mix is as follows:

01. DJ Real - Intro (prod. by Insight)
02. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Take You There (Martian Gang RMX)
03. Martian Gang - Martian Gang Theme
04. Time Machine - Thinking About You (DJ Real RMX)
05. Common Sense - I Used to Love H.E.R. (Martian Gang RMX)
06. DJ Real - Funky Guitar
07. Time Machine - Personal Ads (Martian Gang RMX)
08. Insight - Bother Me (Shin-Ski RMX)
09. Dagha - No Labels (DJ Real RMX)
10. Slum Village - Get Dis Money (Martian Gang RMX)
11. DJ Real - Get Up
12. Soloplexus - Farewell/Be Safe (DJ Real RMX)
13. Ahmad Jamal - Poinciana


Post a Comment

<< Home