Wanna get a brief lesson on House and Garage history as told (verbally and musically) by Marc Cotterell? Keep scrolling!
We’re beyond excited to have Marc Cotterell grace Chicago decks this coming week. We’re HUGE fans of his sound and his Plastik People Recordings. In anticipation of his upcoming gig here at Smartbar, we have an exclusive mix from Marc and mini-interview as well. We’ll see you all on the dance floor on Thursday, April 14th!
Marc Cotterell: Smartbar 2016 Mix
Marc Cotterell Interview
So Marc I know you’ve lived in the States for a while now, I didn’t know you even had a brief stint in Cleveland? When exactly did you leave the UK and where else here have you lived?
I traveled to the U.S. for many years to play music, and I fell in love with this country. Each time I returned, I knew I wanted to live here. I’ve traveled a lot in my life and I believe travel is an integral part of life. It’s a must to meet different people & cultures to understand who you are as a human. Some amazing places I’ve been include Varna, Bulgaria and Barcelona, Spain.
I’m curious, given that the whole ’90s and Garage sound has been hot for the past few years, do you remember what the climate was prior to that where you were living? Or in Europe in general?
Where do I start? I will try to narrow it down as I have some huge feelings on what happened & the demise of the House and Garage Scene.
In the early ’90s I started out listening to Happy Hardcore, Jungle and occasionally House Music. Around that time I started playing out and throwing underground parties, I remember around ’95 playing at a party in Cornwall, UK, it was 3am and the DJ before me played a track called, “What’s New” by St. Germain. It totally blew my mind! I had never heard anything like this before, so much soul & emotions all in one track, and I thought, this is my shit right here! I was personally playing more of the U.K. sound at the time, and that track opened up a whole new world to me.
I started then drenching myself in the French Deep House sound. I explored different labels such as FCommuication and Straight Up recordings. I loved influential artists such as DJ Deep, Franck Roger and Playin’ 4 the City. I want to point out that Olivier’s music meant so much to me over the years that he now releases exclusively on my Plastik People label. As I delved into the deep House sound and educated myself, I realized these artists were influenced by artists and labels from the U.S., which led me to Mood II Swing’s iconic track “Do It Your Way.” I was then forever in love with U.S House and Garage music. I realized nothing moved me as much as the raw soulful vibes, the deep emotional vocals, and most importantly, “musically made” House Music. Artists such as M.A.W. were killing it, making music that was so developed and ahead of its time, it’s sadly now far away from what you hear being produced today.
Around that time, ’95 or ’96, House Music found its foothold in the UK, and the scene started to flourish. When 1998/’99 came up, the House scene in the UK was blowing up and started to get picked up by mainstream media and a lot of crossover tracks started to get into the charts. Tracks from Run-DMC and Jason Nevins were merging commercial pop with House and it was huge. It changed the direction of underground House and the mentality that went with it. Personally I think the whole crossover with mainstream was the wrong direction, things haven’t been the same since! After the explosion of mainstream House music in the UK, the U.S. House vibe dropped off and we started hearing more Minimal and Electro House which did absolutely nothing for me. There has always been hardcore fans who remember the heights of the U.S sound in Europe.
Jeremy who runs My Love Is Underground has been flying the flag for years and his label has pushed some amazing music in the last six years, and for that, we need to thank him greatly. He helped push the revival of the U.S House and Garage scene, but we have a long way to go.
I feel with my passion and experience it’s my sole purpose as a househead to keep the sound alive and vibrant. I try to do this via my label, Plastik People & Plastik People collections. My mission is to release new music by respected House and Garage artists, and to push new up and coming producers who love the ’90s sounds. I allow people to learn about the ’90s by releasing old and rare hard to find tracks as part of my collection series which gives everyone the ability to pick up tracks they missed from years gone and/or to educate themselves on the past of House music. Tracks like Donnell Rush’s “Perfect Day for Company” is a fine example of an amazing Garage track that didn’t get the recognition it rightly deserved. (It is now available on Collections Series volume 2). To end with one last example is Workin’ Happily’s “Better Things,” and this track was a classic back in the U.K Garage days and has been now been in the Top 10 classic charts on Traxsource since October 2015 as well as being sold out on vinyl.
Your label (as you yourself as an artist) has been keeping pretty busy. Can you give us a rundown of your latest releases? Congratulations on charting so much!
Thanks very much! I work incredibly hard to keep that original “House sound,” but still keep exposure in the charts, especially through Traxsource. I have to give a shout to Brian and Sheldon at Traxsource, who have had nothing but faith and belief in my music. They have stuck with me and my label over the last few years. Also the guys over at Juno Records, without them the vinyl side of my label wouldn’t be in the hands of my many supporters. I have a lot of new music coming out on both vinyl and digital platforms. It’s all about the music, not the medium.
I’ve got some new releases coming out in 2016. A new EP on Minuendo, which is a collaboration with the talented singer, Doreen Younglove. We put this EP together a few years ago and it means so much to me to finally release it. It will be out on vinyl sometime in April, and digitally later in the year on my own label. I have a new Garage EP coming out on Argentinian label called Onwards Recordings that will be out on vinyl, and digitally later in the year on my label. My good friend DJ Nav and I have an EP coming out later in the year as well. I have a couple of single tracks coming out, one is on Belgium’s Gents & Dandys label, and the other is on the vinyl side of Deepsite, from the UK, and two tracks on Kase Kool. I have an EP coming out digitally on Low Steppa’s label Somma Black, and a remix on King Street. Finally an EP from myself, on my own label, will be released towards the back end of the year, just in time for the Vocal Booth Weekender which I will be headlining this year in Spain, along side CJ Macintosh, Sean McCabe, and LayFar to name a few. It’s a pretty busy schedule for music, which is great.
I’ve always wanted to ask you about your personal production techniques. Can you talk us through the process you go about creating/remixing a track and how long does it take you?
First and foremost, it takes me a long time to write music, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to producing. I was always a DJ, I picked up making music to help push the sound I love. I am heavily influenced by amazing artists like Mood II Swing, Kings Of Tomorrow, Playin’ 4 the City, Aquabassino, Eddie Perez and many others. It can be a daily struggle for me. I like to take inspiration from early House and give it my own take. I need to feel like it comes from my love of the music rather than manufacturing a track. I use Logic, Korg M1, and my extensive vinyl collection for samples and chords. Sometimes I will find a kick-drum on an old House track, sample it, play around with it and then use it on my track. Other times I’ll find some old chord stabs, throw them in the EXS24, manipulate them, develop the chords and move on. It’s a very slow process but works for me, I also love to collaborate with musicians, using live keys, sax and vocalists to give it more of a genuine “from the heart” approach, rather than usual sample packs, which I feel 75% of producers use these days.
We’re super excited to finally have you in Chicago. What do you have in store for us?
Firstly thanks for bringing me back to Chicago. It’s one of my favorite cities in the U.S. I was lucky enough, a few years back to play at SmartBar with the Worthy boys for a Dirtybird night. I hear they have upgraded the sound system to a ‘Funktion One’ which I’m super excited to be playing on, nothing better than hearing bottom heavy, raw underground House, and Garage on a system that moves your body. I’m bringing with me some new unreleased cuts from my own label, as well as a lot of fresh music that’s coming out on 124 recordings and Gents & Dandy. And of course, I always bring those rare and hard to find ’90s sounds that I’ve built my name on over the years. Really looking forward to it.
Marc Cotterell appears in Chicago on Thursday, April 14th at Smartbar with UndergroundHouse.TV’s Spence:Chicago, Ed Nine and 5 Magazine’s Czboogie.