*Download the mix here.
Mark Luva is 21 years old, hyperactive on the social networks and in an infinite number of musical, bass-based projects scattered over the whole coastline of Northern Spain. Many of us have been following his Soundcloud page for years, even though his first official release didn't come out until 2011, when Catalan online label Pendrive put out “Mermelada EP”. On that record, we were introduced to his enormous passion for R&B, which - along with hip-hop, the outlandish Glasgow crunk of Hudson Mohawke and Rustie, and other bass hybrids - has become the main source for his productions. In 2012, Luva picked up the pace even more, engaging in several different projects with many of the new names on the Spanish beats scene. Among those projects is Sweat Taste, a new label, on which Mark intends to release an important part of the material sitting on his hard drive, alongside efforts by other young guns, such as Judah, Save Our Souls, and Arufe.
This hyperactivity, and the incredible interconnections with many of his fellow countrymen operating in the electronic music field, can be explained by Bass Camp, which Red Bull Music Academy organised in Madrid in March of this year. It was there that Mark Luva met his kindred spirits, made friends with them and started to work on his short-term artistic future. In the podcast he's given us, all those friendships, collaborations, contacts and affiliations are reflected in a fine selection of exclusive material by people like Astroboyz, Clip!, Judah, and Vark Mision. The-Dream, Club Cheval, Krystal Klear and Girl Unit complete the tracklist, in addition to, of course, some of the works by this young Spaniard, who might rise to international fame sooner than you'd expect. This is what he had to say for himself in a conversation on Skype.
How and why did you get into this music game?
Around 2004, a friend of mine gave me Hieroglyphics' “3rd Eye Vision”, and when I played “You Never Know”, with that pitched-up Patrice Rushen sample, I said to myself “I want to do this”. Later, when I was 16 or 17, I was really into J Dilla and the Golden Era. J Dilla and Pete Rock were the men at that time.
How do you get from Dilla to Rustie or HudMo? Because it's obvious that those two have been of great influence on your sound.
I discovered HudMo on MySpace, in 2008 or so, I downloaded “Hudson's Heeters” and I was hooked. It was pretty rap-like, tempos at 95 BPM, all the things I was into at the time. But the drums were super charged, and the samples and synths were cut up in a way I had never heard before. That's where I became a fan. Later I went on to the 140 BPM stuff, and here I am.
“Here I am” sounds a bit confusing, coming from you. Digging through your tracks and things, I found around five different names of collectives, projects and crews. Tell me, what came first (Hype, Sweat Taste, H3DO Crew, etc.), and how did the rest come about?
HYPE is me and a couple of friends from Bilbao. We're just a bunch of guys making things: music, video games, graphic design, photos, and we dj. We've known each other for quite some time, but in 2010 we decided to create the brand, in order to make it more powerful, because we were all just doing stuff freestyle, even though we are all connected, with regards to tastes, and we used to hang out together a lot. Sweat Taste is something Vision and I started last year. Musically, HYPE is focused on rap, and we don't work as a label. Sweat Taste, on the other hand, is basically a label with no financial means but with the intention to release music from Spanish producers with talent, doing original things: Judah, Arufe, Save Our Souls, there's quite a few of us already. The H3DO Crew is just for fun, having a laugh. It started at the AraabMUZIK gig in Madrid. Arufe is the CEO.
So what about the Avant track? It's one of the best in the set, in my opinion. There's a lot of names of other Spanish producers between the brackets. How did that “producer's coven” come about?
At Bass Camp, organised by Red Bull Music Academy in March. Judah, Arufe, Save Our Souls, Estrada and I got into the studio to make beats, on the first day and we were just mucking about that whole weekend. The Avant remix started with a rhythm by Save Our Souls, which was good, but something was missing. In the meantime, I was looking for a vocal sample for a track I had almost finished. Suddenly, listening to the a cappella on my headphones, I showed it to Save, and he loved it. It was the discovery of the week [laughs].
The other name I want to know about is Vark Mision, who's in the podcast, and who also made “Augustus Hill”, probably the first ever Spanish rave trap track.
Vark Mision is something complicated. He's a kid from the neighbourhood some friends introduced me to, because he was singing R&B, but it turned out he was also producing tracks, he did some Ballroom tracks that were off the hook. I believe “Augustus Hill” came about because he wanted to do something rap, I think Mitto was going to be on the mic. But an MC is going to have a hard time with that fat synth going all over the place. By the way, Vark Mision is going to release an EP soon on Sweat Taste, with “Augustus Hill” and two other bangers.
Is “Wheelchair Drift”, featured in the podcast, going to be on it as well?
Yes. But I've been very cheeky in this mix, using only the intro of the tune.
Does each project or alias mean a different sound or a different way of producing for you?
Not really, although when you work with MCs, you also have to adapt to them. Making some absurd track for my solo projects is quite different from doing a beat for a rapper, where I have to hold back on a couple of things in order for the MC to do his lyrics.
The set is full of unreleased tracks, either by yourself or by other Spanish producers. On a regular day, do you listen to foreign and Spanish stuff in equal measures?
I think I'm listening to more music from outside Spain, because the Spanish stuff I hear, and I know how this must sound, is mostly from friends and people I know. The set is a bit like that, all my buddies are in it, because I don't see the point of doing a set for a magazine with loads of tunes everybody's playing and hits I would play in clubs. They're two different contexts. That's also what the whole playing unreleased tracks is about, though actually I did that because I want to look cool.
There are a couple of tunes on the tracklist that are “forthcoming on Sweat Taste”. Tell us something about the label's release plans.
We've been thinking about how to start the label all year. I think the first EP will finally come out by the end of the year, most likely Vark Mision's. That will be followed, though I don't know in which order, by releases by Judah, Save Our Souls, rap super group Blandiblú, and my own EP, plus a couple of other things I can't tell you yet, because I don't want to jinx them. The label's editorial line is quite simple: we'll release anything we (Vision and I) like. Our references are labels like Night Slugs, Sound Pellegrino, LuckyMe and Pelican Fly, so we'll be putting out all kinds of club music: Vark Mision and Blandiblú is rap (though the former is instrumental), mine's going to be R&B, Save Our Souls is house... But it's all really good, I believe.
You say that you listen to more foreign than Spanish music, but what do you listen to exactly? What's your drug of choice at the moment?
I haven't listened to anything in particular lately, really. Actually, I haven't been paying much attention to any new releases in the past seven months because I was just focusing completely on making beats, I couldn't stop. There a few things I like a lot, though: Flosstradamus are ace, Jeremih's mixtape, Alizzz, who I think is by far the best producer in Spain, Future, and Drake's “Take Care”, which isn't that new but I still think it's sublime. I'm dying to hear The-Dream's “Love IV”, and the new Ciara.
So you've been producing mainly in the past few months. The other day your latest track "Through" surfaced, but on your Soundcloud it says you uploaded it nine months ago. How do you work? Do you make a track in 20 minutes and then don't finish it until six months later, or does it depend on what you're doing at the time?
Well, I did that particular one in two afternoons and I uploaded it as a private track so I could send it to my friends easily. I play it out in clubs and I think it still sounds good, but because it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the songs I want to put on the EP, I wasn't going to release it officially, so I decided to put it out there as a free download. Normally I take about a week for a track, I'm quite slow when producing. I usually shape the idea in an afternoon, but it takes me one or two weeks to actually finish it.
On a final note, tell us how you made this set and what exactly you want to say with it?
I made it with Ableton Live, because my decks are at the HYPE rehearsal studio. Normally I do my sets in one go and on two turntables, but I felt like trying to do one with Live. What I want to transmit with it is what I said earlier, that there is a lot of talent in Spain (although I left some out). And I added some tunes I like and play out in the clubs.
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