Mark Flash Biography
You know the story. A man spends his life working in the factories with a dream that his son will have more than he had and be able to reap the benefits of his struggling. Along the way, the child gets encouragement from family and friends. Then, just before everything comes together, things fall apart, and the young man must reach within himself to take that next step on his own. If you know this story, then you’ll know the story of Mark Flash.
You see, Flash’s father was a traveling musician, a good one too. As Mark grew up, he became intimate with not only a number of different instruments, but a wide range of musical styles. His influences ranged from the jazz of Return to Forever and Miles Davis, to the funk of the Isley Brothers, James Brown and Brass Construction, to the latin sounds of Tito Puente and Joao Donato. His father’s band eventually came to Detroit looking to get a deal with Motown Records. Problem was, Motown had just left for Los Angeles.
Little Mark and his sister were sent to live with his aunt in Bronx. By then, the seed had been planted. Mark knew where he needed to be. When other kids were running the streets, he was trying to figure out how to get into the clubs. There were DJs in the neighborhood that would let the younger kids who knew what was up hang out with them, watch them practice spinning at home. And, from time to time, some DJs would let Mark handle their records, carry them into the clubs. All this didn’t escape his aunt. In 1980, on his 13th birthday, she bought him his first set of turntables. There, on the corner of Knickerbocker and Madison, was the birth of … DJ Mark Love. Not that it got easy from then on. In fact, Mark taught himself the meaning of struggle as he began the process of spinning at small parties, trying to build himself up, only to have fate knock him back down. He was robbed. It was time for a change. Calling up his parents, he made the move back to Detroit. Joining forces with a more established DJ, Rafael Cerrano, Mark was reborn as DJ Mirage, playing the Freestyle and Electro-Club music that would soon become the sound of Detroit’s southwest side. Mirage and Cerrano would sponsor parties and pass out mix tapes, building themselves up as a force to be reckoned with anywhere.
After parting ways in the mid-80′s, Mark was determined not to stop. He had considerable help. With his brother as partner and his father as major support, Mirage Entertainment was created. Mirage Entertainment was one of the biggest promotion companies in the area, bringing a multitude of artists to the Detroit area. For a number of reasons, it was around this time that Mark Flash came into existence. For one, the way he dressed. Mark was never interested in dressing down. Even when he was casual, he’d wear something to make himself stand out, not as a gimmick, but because he liked it. Second, due to the work required in promotions, he was a busy man. He seemed to be everywhere at once, yet extremely hard to find. Mark Flash was a not a name he chose, but one that was given to him by fans, and it stuck. Then tragedy struck. Flash’s father passed away, and there is no way to describe the impact it had on Mark. Mirage Entertainment folded and Mark Flash disappeared. There was no way he could spin without becoming overwhelmed by memories, and Mark was looking to put some distance between himself and Mark Flash. By becoming Markus Loveless-Truck Driver, he started a whole new life. Only … … driving trucks was no way to honor the musical legacy his father gave to him. Beyond that, the music was something that had been a part of his life as far back as he could remember. And then there was his newborn daughter. How could he not pass on the love of music to her? So Mark Flash came back, this time with a vengeance.
Starting with underground parties and raves, the word began to spread that Mark Flash was a name to be feared if you were a DJ, loved if you were a party or club goer. Thanks to a tip from a longtime friend, DJ Rolando of the techno terrorists, Underground Resistance, Flash began flexing his musicianship as a behind the scenes producer for the house music label, Soul City. This brought him to the attention of the Upstart Records crew where he joined as an artist. Merging house, techno, and funk, Mark Flash is coming back stronger than ever before. As one of the few DJ/ Producers who can legitimately play an instrument and read music, he’s not looking to bore you with pseudo-intellectualism. He wants to make you move. He defines his production style as "…loud and funky."
Mark Flash has since joined forces with Gerald Mitchell and Ray 7 which make up, Los Hermanos. Travelling internationally, he has shown the world that there’s more to him than just the typical DJ. With skills in keyboards and percussion, Mark Flash puts on a unique show utilizing his talents to form a musical hybrid.
As a member of Underground Resistance [UR-078], Flash has taken on multiple projects, from remixes, new releases, mix cd’s, collaborations with other producers, performing at local/ international events as well as charity benefits…just to name a few.
Paying more "dues" than most, Mark Flash is not to be played with. After all he’s been through, he’s not about to back down from the musical game. "Some folks think I’m new, but I’m not. I don’t care what your name is, you coming after me, you better be ready. I get up there, ignite it, and let it burn."
Interview with Mark Flash by Kazuumi Ishii
How’s life in Detroit ? I know this question is becoming superfluous, but still, why did you leave New York behind for Detroit ?
Detroit, like any other major city, has its ups and downs. At this point, Detroit is not doing too well. With the economy in a recession, soaring gas prices, unemployment rising, and not to mention the scandal with our mayor, I would say life in Detroit is a little difficult at the moment.
The reason why I left New York is because my parents were very poor at the time and sent me to New York to live with my aunt for a few years until they were able to get on their feet.
You’ve just released your first 12" single "Brasilia" on Underground Resistance, it shows a very big latin samba influence. Can you explain this and who influenced you ?
My influence came from my father who is of Brasilian descent. He was a traveling musician going from State to State with his band to play at nightclubs and bars all across the country.
… But very experimental, sort of mystic. What is your musical background ? Do you play any instruments ?
My musical background actually started from my father teaching me how to play different types instruments (mostly keyboards and percussions), and also introducing me to a variety of different styles of music such as jazz, soul and rock, to samba, funk and the blues.
In ‘Sao Paulo’ you’ve sampled some parts from ‘Timeline’ by UR-2001. How did your initial idea for that track come about ?
Actually, I have to correct you on that. I didn’t sample any parts from Timeline. That track came about from one of my fathers silly songs he used to wake me up.
"Wake up, wake up, wake up – it’s time to wake up, wake up, wake up." add these words to the melody of that track and you’ll see why it used to piss me off when I was a kid……..
What do you produce with in your studio ? Do you use analogue gear or software ?
Anything to get the sound that I am looking for.
From software (Reason, Fruity Loops, Ableton), analogue (Juno 60, SH-101, ASR-10), to acoustic (congas, bongos, timbales).
Alongside Gerald Mitchell and Raphael Merriweathers, you are part of Los Hermanos. How did you first meet these guys ?
I was introduced into Los Hermanos by my long time friend and manager Cornelius Harris. I’ve met Gerald and Ray a few times at Submerge, back in the day, but didn’t really work together until the summer of 2006.
Los Hermanos have great confidence in one another. We can hear that on the album and see it onstage indeed.
Confidence is one of the key elements to have when you are on stage. Fortunately, we have a family bond that keeps us pretty much relaxed on stage. Sometimes things can go wrong, but I know that Gerald and Ray always have my back and I have theirs. They are like family to me.
What was the driving force to do such an emotional-sounding album ? Especially with regard to the more gospel songs like ‘Message Of Hope’ at the "Traditions & Concepts" album.
First and foremost, God is the driving force behind all of our music. With everything going on in our lives it’s so easy to loose focus. ‘Message Of Hope’ is out way of letting the world know that even though we are going thru our own struggles in life that may seem hopeless, be strong and don’t give up.
The UR guys are well known for their dynamic live performances. Do you think electronic music needs to have a performance element ?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it needs a live performance element. Electronic music has been very successful without it. What I will say is that is adds a different element to the electronic music scene. In my opinion, I would rather see a live electronic band playing, than to see someone on stage with a laptop pressing buttons the whole time. I mean, how do you know if they are just playing a pre programmed track while checking their e-mail ? To me, that’s not very exciting to watch. It’s just my opinion, I mean no disrespect.
How do you play your own equipment live ?
I actually play 2nd keyboard, percussions (electronic hand drum), and in charge of FX, loops, bed tracks, tempo control, mixing, and playlist selection.
A few months ago, you guys celebrated the 4th anniversary of LIQUIDROOM alongside Larry Heard the Chicago house music legend. How did that go ?
Celebrating the 4th anniversary of LIQUIDROOM was amazing !! The fans were magnificent, the sound guys were awesome and to top it off, we had the opportunity to experience the legendary Larry Heard. We always have a great time in Japan.
You have performed at a lot of prestigious clubs / festivals. Which do you prefer – DJing, producing or playing out live ?
I would have to say playing out live because I get to enjoy the experience with my friends.
Do you have any other releases coming out in the future ? Solo releases or further productions with Los Hermanos or other producers ?
Yes, I have a new Mark Flash EP soon to be released from Underground Resistance. In winter 2008, a new Mark Flash album release by summer 2009, doing remixes for other producers like Recloose, Anthony Rother, Shawn Rudiman, Homewreckers, and Paul Randolf just to name a few. Also we are currently working on the next Los Hermanos album.
Besides UR what are some other labels or producers at the front of your record box ?
Bush Records, Africanism, Basement Trax, and Generate, just to name a few. About 20% of the tracks I play are unreleased tracks from various producers. And about 10% are my own tracks I made just for that event…..
Some DJs concentrate on keeping the dancefloor, others prefer to take on the role of an educator. Then there are those who are more the entertainer. There are hundreds or thousands of good DJs out there but only a handful of truly great ones. What do you think makes a great DJ ?
I would say, as long as you really enjoy yourself and bring joy to others on the dance floor then you are a great DJ. Sometimes, I think money and popularity plays a role in measuring who is great or not. I know DJs in my neighborhood who are amazing but unfortunately, the world will probably never know they even exist….
Which DJ do you love watching dance behind the decks ?
Without a doubt Laurent Garnier.
Finally, any plans for the rest of 2008 ?
Yes, I am working with Ray 7 and De’Sean Jones in a new live high tech jazz trio called Satori 3 (fusing together Detroit electro and jazz). Also more remixes, new tracks, scheduling new upcoming gigs and working on the new album.
Mark Flash makes his UR debut with the scorching EP Brasilia
DJ Mark Flash – Brasilia EP [Underground Resistance]
Mark Flash drops a stomping great piece of Detroit party-funk – mashing a South American groove with the emotive UR chords into an unstoppable whole. It reminds me a bit of Los Hermanos/Ican but it then goes a bit further. Supermassive.
- A1. Sao Paulo
- A2. Erzuli
- B1. Cachaca
- B2. Minha Mocambo
Get "Brasilia EP" here:
Mark Flash Selected Discography
- Timbales Calientes, 12"
- Everynite, 12"
- House Ballads Part One, 12"
- Soul Power, 12"
- Brasilia EP, 12"
Underground Resistance (2008)
- DJ Marquis – This Is Now (Mark Flash remix)
This Is Now, Upstart (1999)
- E-Dancer – Banjo (Hi-tech Funk remix)
Banjo, KMS/PIAS (1999)