Rarely do you find a musician so humble and skilled as Cape Town based emcee and producer, Marc Handler. Having grown up in two opposite ends of the planet he brings a unique flow and sense of style to SA with some LA underground flair. New to the scene he is progressing rapidly and doesn’t seem to be holding back, even if he is using a ‘vintage’ laptop, his trusty Akai MPK49 does a lot more than simply compensate. We sat down with Marc at his hometown lair in SeaPoint, to understand a little more behind the scenes and drink beer over a beat or two.
Denton: To kick this off tell us how you got into making beats and how long have you been producing?
Marc: I have been producing for probably about a yeah and half now. And I think I’ve always had music in me, like I’ve always had melodies playing in my head all day. I think it was always needed that I make beats, that I do something with it. I played guitar, and bass a bit and drums and this and that and I was in a band when I was younger, and I was really into a lot of punk music and you know growing up in LA there’s so much musical influence.
D: So what kind of influences outside of HipHop would you say fuel your passion for music at the moment?
M: I think just melody in general, and I can’t classify that to any kind of music. I really like the way HipHop borrows from every kind of genre and its constantly evolving which is exciting. HipHop has the potential to take from every genre and not just be a certain tempo, and its just going to grow and evolve and really its exciting like that. But I think all genres inspired me in some way or another like old Rock, Punk Rock, Jazz, some R&B; any great artist. Its not about the genre its about the individual.
D: You seem to have a very signature styled approach to your process, often making a solid beat in one sitting and swiftly moving onto the next, is there any reasoning behind this?
M: I’m very much inspiration based. I’ll sit down and get in a bit of a zone and put one melody down and try put another melody on top of it that’ll sound really good and some drums, and I’m always excited for the newness. I love 90s HipHop but I always want to hear whats new and whats current, and whats pushing the boundaries, or like what sounds really good and its coming from 17 / 18 / 19 year olds. So for me with music I kinda have a short attention span, which is a good and a bad thing. We all have the shortest attention span these days, its all about the little 30 second sound-bites and I think thats applied to music. I listen to something for 10 / 20 seconds and I’ll kinda know whether I like it or not. And sometimes I’ll be wrong. Sometimes if I give it another listen I will learn to like it and appreciate it for what it is. So I think the same applies for my music, I’m either feeling it or I’m not. And I might feel it for 4 or 5 hours and feel that its somewhat finished and then not really want to touch it again. And even though at another listening, I’ll be like ‘I could do this or I could do that’, the next time I sit down and do something I’d rather just start fresh and create something new.
D: The local scene seems very isolated and distant from whats happening out in Europe and the States – whats your take on this, and do you see it changing anytime soon?
M: This is a difficult question. I think because I lived half my life in LA and half my life here, but I grew up in LA I come from a different perceiving point. I think SA’s got so much potential talent and a lot of it doesn’t come to the surface because of economic problems, people don’t have the money to advance their talent and then certain people do have the money, and maybe their talent is not as good or whatever the case is, but I think there is huge potential and its only going to grow in SA and I think its going to get bigger and bigger.
D: Are there any local artists you would be down to collaborate with?
M: The one track I made with Petit Noir who is already doing his own thing, and is already pretty recognised overseas and plays huge concerts and festivals in the States. And he’s really got his own style, and when I have worked with him its been really awesome. Theres a guy Sol Pros who lives in my neighbourhood who really got me on the beat making tip, like I always wanted to do it, but he kinda gave me a half hour of his time to show me how to start if off. He’s been doing stuff for a while, he makes really cool shit.
D: Your beats have a very sombre and cool vibe too them, borderline melancholic – is there a particularly mood you want your listeners to feel or is it something deeper you expressing?
M: Its not necessarily about the emotion or particular mood, everybody is open to their own perception based on how they’re feeling at the time. For me its all about beauty, creating something beautiful and I think thats what all art is. Thats what artists are out here to do, to create beauty in this world. So for me its really about the melody. I don’t start a song and go for a particular theme or emotion, I maybe subconsciously do depending on my mood, but its really just about creating something thats really beautiful, just really good to the ear, and hooks you in. I like things that are catchy, but catchy maybe in a melancholic way or maybe in an emotional way, but I’m not trying to create any particular emotion, just trying to make something that will make you feel. And I think beautiful art makes people feel.
D: So are there any future projects in the pipelines?
M: Just to really keep making music. Should be doing more stuff with Petit Noir and I got couple friends in the States that Ive worked on stuff with. Definitely collaborations are on the table.