Markee Ledge Interview
MM: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the new album? Many people in the dance music world are saying that albums are becoming less and less relevant in a singles-driven market, what are your thoughts on that?
ML: The inspiration comes from many places, from my life, from inspirational people like Malcolm X, Mandela, Gandhi, I have great respect for people who stand up for what they believe in, they walk the path for all of us.
With ‘Elevate’ I’d been going through a period of re-evaluation, you might say, and so I just tried to get back to what I love about music and being creative, collaborating with people, so I started doing some deep vocal dub stuff and enjoying that, it grew from there really. I started writing with Jodie Elms, and she was doing sessions for me, and we wrote some great deep stuff, I’m so proud of. Youngsta and Seven picked up on what I was doing and it grew from there, I loved Alys Be’s voice, I could hear the emotiveness so I asked her if she would like to do some stuff together and that kind of then led onto doing more 808-type 125bpm stuff I'm doing now, which is very dubby and deep also, there’s a theme running through it all, an emotion/feeling I’m trying to express.
I come from a different era when the album is very important, everybody’s doing singles now, so I thought I’ll do an album, that’s a bit different ;)
What an album does is give you more room to experiment, to try some different things and move into unknown territories. Many artists in dance music produce in 2 or more genres; it’s a bit hidden.
I’ve written drum and bass (the 90's), breaks & electro (the 00's), dubstep (10’s), downtempo, and eclectic, through my music career under different alias’, it makes life more interesting, and music is definitely of that time and place.
I think an album is like a collection of singles really, mine is anyway, there are no fillers on there, every track has a reason for being. I’m planning on releasing singles afterwards to reinforce the album and do remixes, and then onto the next album ;).
MM: As you know electronic music has finally caught on in a big way over here in the states, why do you think it took so long. Do you plan on gigging over here this year in support of the album?
ML: I’ve no idea why it took so long, but the US had Hip-hop which has been a massive musical force, which we love, but didn’t have a scene in the UK, we had our own scene, and that’s why all this music develops. we were listening to drum and bass / jungle while listening to Notorious BIG at home, and for example, Busta Rhymes’ Woo-Hah, big Hip-hop track, but we needed a dnb remix for the UK! So there’s alway an extra layer of underground in the UK that makes it exciting and experimental.
Yes, I plan to come to the states with our show. We’ve been working on it, and I want it to be tight. Combining my new album with some classics from the back catalogue.
I think it’s about educating people to understand who ‘markee ledge’ is, I’ve been hiding in the shadows and behind alias’ for years, but now I can step out and say yeah I wrote that, or yeah you know that track from back in the day, that was me, but check out my new tracks ……. It’s cutting edge now, so it’s probably going to take a few years to catch up with Markee Ledge, out on the edge, but the vocals give it longevity and its place in time.
MM: What’s your favorite club / city to play in the US?
ML: It’s been a while but have always enjoyed playing in Miami, we played a show in San Francisco back in 2002 and Coachella was great, I’d love to get back there again. As the scene is the US has expanded so much, I’m excited to come over and play some fresh underground UK vibes.
MM: As a producer and a DJ, what is your favorite way to perform your material… is it still the good old fashioned DJ set or do you mess with a live performance as well.
ML: I like DJ’ing, but I do tend to play a lot of my stuff, and then I like to have the vocals live, and then I start playing keyboard! So I think we’ve hit our tight format for the moment Markee Ledge, MC Jakes, & Alys Be.
MM: What are your weapons of choice in the studio and on tour?
ML: My modular is bad and unique to me ;) so love that, and the studio electronics ‘red eye’ is just a monster, BoomStar synth as well, I do like the analogue synths.
When on tour with Kosheen, then the guitar is the perfect tour instrument, play it anywhere, write anywhere, perform anywhere, get a bit of busking cash on the way to the gig! whatever it takes man!
MM: How would you describe your music to a deaf person?
ML: I would Put them in front of a bass bin and hit them with an 808 bass kick in the chest, followed by some cheese rumble and some gully bass. Say no more.
The New Album
The Markee Ledge/Kosheen album, which has been three years in the making, features guest producers including Seven, Leon Switch, dubs peek a and Rinse FM’s DJ Youngsta, plus guest vocalists Alys Be, Susie Ledge and Jodie Elms. The release of ‘Elevate’ is preceded by the single ‘Make Your Move’ feat. Alys B.
Following five studio albums as Kosheen, the band’s songwriter and producer, Markee Ledge, took advantage of the group’s hiatus in recording new material to develop his Kosheen project, combining customary big vocal tracks interspersed with deep underground electronic sounds.
The 17-track album, which presents a deeper and dubby perspective of the UK electronic music soundtrack, features nine vocal tracks including two tracks presented as Kosheen remixes: ‘Picture Perfect’ and ‘Purity’ both feature singer / songwriter Susie Ledge. Other vocal highlights include lead album track ‘Talk Is Cheap’ and ‘Saturn’ both featuring Alys Be, the latter also comes in a deeper remix form courtesy of DJ Youngsta.
Kosheen, one of the UK’s most successful live electronic music acts, came to prominence with the groundbreaking album ‘Resist’ in 2001 following crossover releases ‘Hide U’, ‘Catch’ and ‘Hungry’. The album charted at No. 8 in the UK and went on to sell half a million copies, making it the most successful drum & bass album at that time. Further releases followed including the highly successful follow-up ‘Kokopelli’ featuring the single ‘All In My Head’, and albums ‘Damage’, ‘Independence’ and ‘Solitude’.
‘Elevate’ takes the Kosheen template and twists it into the current underground musical narrative. “I knew I had a bunch of very powerful songs in the bag, and I was digging the real deep sound coming from London and Rinse FM,” Markee explains. “I wanted to reach out to the producers I was feeling and make fresh music and recapture that vibe we had on ‘Resist’ - a real current sound but with soulful, powerful songs.”