Versatility is something most producers will have a certain degree of. To the point where they can cross widely different genres and still receive broad critical acclaim is incredibly rare however. Enter Marcus Kaye, known as Marcus Intalex in the Drum & Bass world, and in the last few years as Trevino in the world of House & Techno. With a career spanning back to the early 2000s as a D&B producer, Kaye’s Trevino project provided something of a reinvigoration for the Manchester based artist, as he was able to approach new genres without worrying about expectations.
The enthusiasm for new sounds is easy to hear in his productions as well, covering everything from dark, foreboding techno to anthemic, rave-influenced House music.
With a gig at Fabric scheduled in for the 31st May, we decided to catch up with Kaye to discuss the show, plans for a Trevino album, and searching for DJs in the Hacienda.
So I’ve been listening to your remix for Last Magpie this morning which is released soon I believe – how did that come about? Is remixing something you find easy or are you quite selective about what you will work on?
Its something I enjoy, I don’t necessarily find it easy but you just get given pieces of a jigsaw. What I usually do is before I agree to do the remix I’ll listen to the tune to see if there’s anything in there that I think I could touch.
I’ll go through the separate sounds that they send me and pick some out that I like, have one listen to the original and then forget it ever happened – forget the vibe of the tune, then I basically just start writing a track with the pieces they’ve given me. I’m just having fun with other people’s sounds more than anything, I’m not trying to make it a better version just put my stamp on it – if there’s sounds I’d like to play with I’ll just have a jam in the studio. It’s just nice to mess around with other people’s stuff - It gives it a bit of a different angle, a bit more fun almost.
With the Trevino project you’ve covered a pretty wide breadth of styles – releasing on everything from Klockworks, known for serious, long-playing techno to the more playful, ravey stuff released on [NakedLunch] & 3024. How do you feel about the process of finding ones sound? Is this a process you think any producer ever really escapes?
It’s part of my thinking that maybe I have a sound, but it’s quite varied. I’m not exactly sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing anymore - I can’t work it out. Especially with the gigs, you can turn up at some and its like a proper house gig and then the week after its a techno gig. Sometimes I don’t know before I go to these things what I’m getting booked for.
Its something I’m thinking about a lot at the moment because I have so much music. I’m starting a new label and I’m thinking of starting it with an album just to get some of this music out the way… I’ve made a couple of tracks which I’m not even sure I’m going to put my name to them. They have a lot of potential but the sound is so far removed from say the Klockworks things – it’s just going to confuse people even more. Maybe its time for another alias…
I don’t mind people knowing behind the scenes its all Marcus Intalex to a certain extent, but maybe there needs to be a specific name for a specific sound. It’s something I’m going to speak to a lot of people about over the next few weeks and really get some opinions on.
I think very few artists are singular about the style they want to make but maybe it needs to be presented in that way sometimes, as people seem to get confused very easily.
Well yeah, there’s just so much good music coming from all angles in the House & Techno world, I get excited by quite a lot of it so I don’t want to just make one kind of tune. The Trevino thing was freedom for me, I did’t have to worry about fitting in. With D&B it always had to fit – there were all these stipulations about what it had to be and how it had to sound. I think Trevino gave me that lease of life where I didn’t have to think about it that much, but now I’m starting to have to a little bit.
Is the label the the same project that was mentioned in that Attack article a few years ago?
Yeah, I mean it’s been in the works for a long time and I’ve been trying to work out who the best distributor is, I want to keep it separate from the Soul:r stuff . I’ve also started to find it a bit difficult to A&R my own music - there’s all these questions and rather than confront them, what I’ve done is just gone ‘yeah I’ll sort that out later’. I’ve gone in the studio instead and started making more music to confuse myself even more you know what I mean (laughs).
It’s got to the point now where I’ve just made a decision and something will happen in the next three months at the most, finally.
And Soul:r & Revolve:r are continuing as well right?
Still continuing with Soul:r yeah, I’m not sure what I’ll do with Revolve:r. Maybe that could become something a bit more experimental, I’ve not really thought about it to be fair. Soul:r and the new label will be the priority that’s for sure. I’ve got probably half a dozen tracks signed for Soul:r, then the new DRS album so there’s things afoot that’s for sure. There’s just so much to do, at some point I just need to do it you know what I mean, maybe take some time out from writing music to make sure it all comes out.
The other thing in that Attack interview you mentioned how the Trevino project brought back the feeling of being excited, and even a little nervous at gigs rather than just ‘coasting’. After a few years of the project do you still feel the same energy you did then?
Yeah a little bit, there are gigs that are slightly more of a test. There’s nowhere were I play as Intalex that concerns me in the slightest. Just through doing it so many times it’s just a case of turning up and playing music. With the Trevino thing though I still get a little nervous pre-gig but tend to find as soon as I start I’m pretty much up for it… I have always played longer sets with D&B ,or at least wanted to, so having to do longer as Trevino is something I’m well prepared for.
Do you still remember some of the first nights you went to? What was your first exposure to House & Techno?
I think it was in ‘86 - ‘87, we started our own night. I’m from a small town called Burnley and we were influenced by what was going on in Manchester, just UK-wise with this explosion of House music. Stuff you’d hear and read about, but we weren’t really old enough to be doing it. So we started our own events and played back in 88. We’d been to the Hacienda once or twice, and played in a local club that had a little bit of House music and just jumped on the revolution as soon as it started almost! The Hacienda played a massive part in all of it, and subsequent things in Manchester afterwards. Manchester was at the forefront of that core beginning of House music, and the Hacienda rightfully gets name-checked for that. I guess without sounding overly cheesy, that’s kind of where I got my education from musically.
I went to a New Order gig in ‘87 and New Order were great… In fact they weren’t that great they were pretty shit live, but it was the buzz of being there at the Hacienda and the DJ came on afterwards and played House music for about an hour. I couldn’t find him, I couldn’t see where he was. He was up on the balcony in some little room but you could only see him from on the stage. I spent about an hour trying to work out where this music was coming from! It was the first night I’d ever been to where the DJ wasn’t talking, back in the day they’d play a tune and grab the mic almost like a radio DJ. That was the first night I’d ever been to where they didn’t and it pretty much blew my mind.
I’ve followed House & Techno since then to an extent - there was just a period in the early ’90s where it got overly cheesy, with this whole Italian House – big pianos everywhere and it just fucking drove me nuts. I backlashed against it and got into the breaks and the basslines that were coming out of Sheffield and London and stuff. It was a different kind of sound completely and that’s how I followed into D&B almost. I think the breaks excited me more than the 4/4 stuff because it was a lot fresher and rougher, not overly well produced but full of futuristic ideas, where as House music had gone all hands in the air.
I don’t like happy music that much, I like it a bit moodier, and a bit darker. I guess I always was more into Techno than House to an extent, especially the Detroit stuff. Something more thoughtful, more emotive that made you think a bit more than just fucking turning up at a club, take a pill and put your hands in the air for four hours. I moved away from House because of that and Manchester did get like that because of people like Sasha who was fucking massive, but it was just too euphoric for my liking.
Problem was between 91-96 there were very few clubs that supported the more london sound in Manchester. There was a lot of violence in the clubs, a lot of gang problems which spilled over into club politics and club owners were afraid of putting that kind of music on for fear of what kind of people it might bring. So it died in Manchester, it was criminal really. The Hardcore scene before it turned into Jungle was pretty much non-existent. I worked in a record shop during that period and we would sell fucking hundreds of these tunes, people loved it! It’s quite surprising how it didn’t die because there was really very few places if nowhere to go and listen to it, it’s pretty crazy.
I guess the House scene began to rationalise itself around then and become more formulaic, where as the break based stuff was just taking off and people approached it with a fresher perspective.
It had a bit more of that ‘this is the future’ sound to it and I’ve always been excited by futuristic sounding music. You look back at when that Chicago thing broke, and especially in Detroit – that was electronic music that was so futuristic. I’d never heard anything like it, but as time went on especially in the UK it did start to get more cheesy and based around people taking pills. I know these tunes are made for people taking pills – super emotive and super hands in the air, everyones rushing their tits off and I’m like this is shit! (laughs). It’s just not for me. People used to come up to me and be like ‘you got any E tunes Marcus’ and like I know what they are but I’m not fucking playing them, I’m not here for that it’s not my thing.
I’d go to London once every couple of months, I was only 20 or 21 - the scene down there was completely different. I’d go to hear what they’re doing and check the record shops down there because there was all these white label tunes coming from London, and they’d very rarely make it up north, they’d all sell out before they got there. The north south divide was almost like a split in the music as well. Two completely different scenes, Sasha and Graeme Park and all these Hacienda DJs were massive up north but rarely got any gigs down south, and you’d never see the likes of Grooverider and Fabio in Manchester. It was just a mad musical split, and typically I’m the person that lives up north and likes the sound from down south!
Have you ever been tempted to leave the area?
I like London to visit, it just fucking wears me out! I’m as happy leaving London as I am arriving there - it was never in the equation I don’t think. It never really appealed to me that much. I like Manchester, it’s a good size and there’s a lot going on here. I’ve always felt an affinity to it and I’m pretty sure I always will.
I think being in a place where you can have space away from music is just as important as being around it otherwise it just tires you out.
It completely does. I mean for years it’s just music coming from all angles and you end up stopping loving the music you’re supposed to love.
During some of the period of doing D&B it was a full-on 24/7 job and it was driving me nuts to be fair. If the music gets to a point where it’s disappointing you and that’s your career, that’s your love - it affects your mindset, it affects your moods, it affects everything. I guess a wiser Marcus now plays a different game almost.
Talking about London and stuff, you’re playing at Fabric on May 31st, I imagine you must have played the club quite a few times now over your career. Can you remember the first gig you had there?
That’s for sure! I played before Andy C it was probably about 2000ish? I enjoyed it, I thought it was a good place to play music. The hospitality there and the way they look after you was pretty special and it always has been. That was the first thing I noticed – dead welcoming. They had people there just to work with the DJs which was pretty much before anyone had every done that and it really struck a chord with me. Even though I was nervous as a motherfucker, i was comfortable , thinking this is fucking cool, these guys are nice.
Can you tell us a little bit about whats next in terms of your release plans?
I’ve got an idea where I’m going to do two Trevino albums, and split them down the middle so one comes out as the first release on the new label – nine tracks. And then another nine tracks either late in the year or early next year. I’ve decided which are the nine, I’ve got the name for the label, I’ve got the design, I’ve pretty much got the distribution in place. Just a couple of touches to the music over the next couple of weeks and then I think I’m just going to go with it. Apart from a few remixes I’ve done there hasn’t really been a 12” for six or twelve months.
There’s plenty of music, that’s not the issue, I’m trying to slow down but I really enjoy the writing process, there something quite therapeutic about it. In terms of organising myself… I don’t know what I’ve been doing to be fucking fair! (laughs) I’m just gonna try and get more music out there.
Is the label something you’re going to use for your own productions mainly or do you have other artists in mind as well?
Yeah, there’ll be myself and I’m starting to write a bit of music with Endian. He’s really good man, he’s good fun to work with. Then I don’t know, it’s not a global domination project to take over the world, it’s more a vehicle to put more of my own stuff out when I feel like. There’s no real set in stone plan, we’ll just see where it goes.