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MARKEY FUNK - JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

Tuned in to the local Israeli scene, Markey explores early electronic, library grooves, eastern European jazz and heavy psych.

Markey Funk – Jerusalem, Israel

Hello again,
Here is Markey Funk, a Jerusalem based music producer and vinyl collector.
Taken while visiting home about a year ago, here is a personal message from Markey.
Enjoy and come back,

Hello to all Dust & Groove readers.
This interview took place a while back, and since then I’ve been through some major changes in my life as a musician and record collector. First, I’ve finally turned my attention to the local scene and opened an Israeli groove and psych section. I also have a number of Hebrew floor killers in constant rotation.
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My knowledge is still not as deep as in other genres, but I’ve got good mentors to lead me. My musical tastes also expanded to include early electronic music (like BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Mort Garson and Dick Hyman), library groove, psyched-out jazz, heavy psychedelia and teen-age beat from around the globe. Besides that, in spring 2010 I started writing about popular music history for the Jerusalemite urban culture magazine “Af” (www.afknows.com) (Hebrew word for “nose”). In February 2011, Mt. Scopus Radio, where I had two weekly shows for 4 years, stopped broadcasting, so right now I don’t have a proper regular way of sharing tons of music that I discover every given day. But I do take part in the summer seasons of Teder radio-bar (www.teder.fm) and still contribute mixtapes once in two months to Kol HaCampus in Tel-Aviv. Also another great change is that recently I’ve released the first vinyl record of my own music – it’s a 7″ by my sitar-beat side project, called Les Hippies, which was released through Audio Montage Entertainment label and is distributed worldwide by Kudos.
Recently I’ve also completed another special project that hopefully will see the light in a vinyl LP form next summer… and yes, I’ve also started filling the mainstream gaps in my collection, so now sometimes you may also hear me play Donovan, Black Sabbath, Marc Bolan and Hendrix.
In addition to tunes from the records that I mention here, I’ve incorporated two of my newer finds, one of which is by a soviet beat-group, and the other is from my favorite Israeli psych gem – a nice way to complete the puzzle of my musical taste and connect it to my own biography.
Q: your full name, age and where do you live?
A: Markey Funk, 28, Jerusalem, Israel
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: Djing, producing music…
Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling? Do you still have it?
A: Russian bootleg of Beatles’ “White Album”. Got it for my 10th birthday. For the first time it was something related in my mind to the grown-ups’ world, ’cause I thought I had to be as old as my dad in order to have records. I still keep it, ’cause it’s still one of my first influential albums.
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Q: What prompted you to start collecting? what age did you start ?
A: Basically – sampling. Inspired by DJ Shadow and classic Ninja Tune stuff, I started to look for the stuff that I could cut and create my tunes from. On the other side, inspired by Cut Chemist’s “Rare Equations” mix-tape, I realized that all this stuff that I can sample I can also spin as a DJ.
Q: Do you remember the day when you switched from being a record listener to a record collector?
A: Guess that’s when I decided to take a few records from my dad’s collection with me to Israel. Even if some of them we had ripped to mp3.
Q: Take them with you to Israel? where from?
A: From Minsk, Belarus.
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Israeli pressing of Gershon Kingsley’s “Music to Moog By” with completely different front cover artwork, which was happening here from time to time.
Q: So, you were raised in Russia under a communist regime. how did your dad get his records?
A: Well, I was born in Soviet Union, but it fell apart by the time I was 9. :)
As my dad told me, buying eastern European jazz and rock in 70′s wasn’t an easy task – copies showed up at the stores very rarely and in small quantities, so living near the socialist Poland made it a bit easier. But most of the American and British classic rock in my dad’s collection first existed on reel-to-reel tapes and only by the early 90′s he had a chance to buy some of his favorite records (mostly Zeppelin and Beatles), since they were reissued in Russia (without any proper permission or license from the original artists/labels, of course).
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Q: Initial interest in music? were you influenced by your family?
A: Well, music was always playing in our house. Beatles, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jesus Christ Superstar… and since my sister got interested in rock, and later new wave, punk and all the related stuff, this interest got me too… at the age of 6 I went to study piano in a music school in Minsk… dad was taking me to the classical and free-jazz concerts… at the age of 12, after first hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, I understood finally that music is what I wanna do…
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Two records from my dad’s collection that turned me on to jazz – Rudolf Dasek “Dialogues” + Jazz Carriers “Carry On”.
Q: Why vinyl?
A: First there’s romantic reason. The round shape and the spiral structure, that reminds me of the way the whole space is more or less built in… the simplicity of use in DJing… the sound, off course…
Q: Presently, are you focusing on any specific genre in your collection? Are there other factors you consider when buying records- Producer? Pressing years? Artist of the album jackets?
A: Well, I’m into every thing that has groovy or psychedelic feel to it… since Israel is a place where a lot of people from all over the world are coming to. And they always bring their music with them. So, there’s always a way to discover music from somewhere else – eastern Europe, western Europe, Mediterranean area, South America, north Africa, even Japan or Iran. Also, I guess it’s due to my sister’s deep influence, I’m never interested in famous names or major labels. I like the element of surprise in digging. I like discovering great moments on a non-promising looking records. Everything that’s new to me makes me curious, although there’s a number of names, labels and periods of time in certain places that I’m paying attention to.

Q: Do you have a run of a label or artist in your collection where you are either working on or have completed collecting an entire catalogue of output?

A: Well, since discovering Milton Nascimento, I’m buying every record with his name that I happen to find. Even tribute and cover records, ‘cause his writing is so brilliant that it can’t be even ruined by bad production. Thanks to my dad’s influence, I put my hands on every record that has “Polish Jazz” logo on it, as well as every record by the great polish rocker – Czeslaw Niemen. Although, at the end of the day, I never hunt for records to complete any discography or catalogue. You may already realize that I like the element of occasion in digging.

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Q: Do you travel to find records? where? how often?
A: I’ve never made digging travels. But when I go some place I always try to find any store in the area that sells records..
Q: living in Israel, such a tiny country with complicated neighboring countries, how do you really find records? do you go to flea markets? or just record shops?
A: I don’t think that my way of finding records is that much different from any other person in the world. You know, I go to record shops and flea markets, buy records from my fellow dealers or from other collectors, order new stuff through web-stores, and sometimes I just receive them from my friends’ friends, or from my parents’ friends, or even from people that I meet at my gigs. Sometimes I find the records, and sometimes the records find me.
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I always sympathize to irregular kids records and I’m always into creative sleeve design. So this record for me was exactly what it’s called – “Honey on Toast”. Mmmm…Yummy! :)
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Latvian band Zodiac is often compared in its importance to Kraftwerk. This was the first and most successful electronic band in Soviet Union, where the sythesizer music didn’t get enough hype to become a separate scene, like in Germany, France or the States.
Q: Tell me a crazy story over a certain record
A: I have this romanian Prog record by the band Savoy. I remember I bought it alongside near 20 records at the bookstore, where they sell records for one price for everything – no matter what it is. I couldn’t even remember what was there or have I listened to it when I came home. Few years later I found famous “Record Collector’s Dreams” catalogues and in one of them I found a familiar record cover… since I’ve known stories of the artwork being used a few times on different record covers (something that has been happening pretty much in the Soviet Union and eastern european countries), I didn’t really believe I seem to own the particular record mentioned in the catalogue… but later I decided to check anyway. How surprised was I to find out that I do have it for quite a long time!
Q: Love, hate, obseesion, passion, pride, joy, anything else… what would best describe the relation to your collection?
A: Love, not for collecting – for music in general
Q: Can you name some of the stores, trade shows, flea markets, thrift shops you go digging?
A: Black Hole, The 3rd Ear, Off the Record, Hod HaMachat and The 13th Floor (RIP) – in Tel-Aviv. Balance (RIP), Prozack (RIP), Literature Gallery and Trionfo – in Jerusalem.
Q: List 5 rarest 45′s or LPs.
A: Leon Antoine Demo-45, Tribo 45, Lancaster Kiwanis Steel Band LP, Mehr Fooya “To Bemani Wa Mann” (Iranian version of “Tintarella di Luna”), “Musical Offering – Music for ANS Synthesizer”  and records by Esther Jungreiss.
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This one makes me proud. Another record that turned me even more no to Brazilian psychedelia and 70′s underground. Tribo now can be called a supergroup consisting of Joyce, Nana Vasconcelos, Nelson Angelo, Novelli and Toninho Horta – each one a star in his own right. The b-side of this single, “Peba & Pobo” is also included in the famous Odeon compilation “Posicoes”, but I couldn’t find any information about the a-side – “Tapinha”.
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“Musical Offering”, a collection of experimental pieces made by russian composers on light-based synthesizer “ANS”. That one turned me on to experimental analogue electronic sound.

Q: Tell me about a record that’s too weird to believe, even for a die-hard record fiend?

A:  ”You Are a Jew” by Esther Jungreis. She used to be a jewish preacher. I’ve got Hebrew and English versions of this spoken word album, English version of which was recorded live at Madison Square Garden. She’s talking with passion comparable to stereotypical Black baptist preachers!

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I’ve got two versions of Esther Jungreiss’ “You Are a Jew”. Hebrew and this one – in english, performed in Madison Sq. Garden. This is one of the weirdest records in my collection. Female jewish preacher – doesn’t it sound weird enough already? :)
Q: Is there an album/45 you are unsuccessfully trying to find?
A: Akvarium “Treugol’nik” – true russian psychedelic classic. It was never released on record, but on tape. My dream is having an original reel out of the few that were released back in 1981 and having it reissued on vinyl.

Q: Do you have any dirty secrets in your collection? Perhaps a Wall of Shame

A: I think the main wall of shame in my collection is the shocking absence of mainstream in it. I’m known as funk DJ, but I hardly have James Brown or The Meters albums; I’m known as a psych DJ, but, to be honest, I bought my copy of “Surrealistic Pillow” only a few weeks ago; I love jazz, but I hardly have any classic jazz records; I love three of the first Funkadelic albums, but I never tried to buy their original pressings. I always find myself giving up on the classic stuff in order to buy some more obscure records from God knows where that only few people heard of. Only recently I started to pay attention to the big names. And it’s confusing sometimes. People come to me, when I DJ and ask if I have this and that classic tune, but all I have to propose to them is a funk cover of Cream, German covers of Sly Stone or Led Zeppelin and Brazilian covers of Beatles or James Brown. And actually these covers sometimes sound much groovier than the originals! :)

Q: Do you have any digging buddies that you share your spots with or do you go out solo?

A:  I’m never able to get my digging pals out to shop together. We never had a day when both of us had money to spend. :)

Q: Have you ever had a dream or nightmare about digging for records? Can you recall a particularly funny or weird one?

A: I never had a nightmares about digging, but sometimes I have a bizarre nightmare that I forget my record bag somewhere on my way to the show. And I always carry with me some stuff that I’m not sure I could ever find again.

Q: Out of your entire collection, there must be few records that you like going back to at any time. What makes them so special for you?

A: Well, usually these are the records that I was deeply influenced by.
Milton Nascimento e Lo Borges – “Clube da Esquina”. The spread full of pictures kinda puts you in the atmosphere in which this record was made. And faces… it’s like this album really came out of community of people and not just one-two masterminds…
Hell Preachers Inc. – “Psychedelic Underground”. Very special psychedelic image. Kind of style that always drops me back to the classic psychedelic movies. Basically, I’m very into graphic design, I did artwork for all of my releases, pretty often make posters and flyers for my shows and events, so I am constantly having my inspiration from cover art.
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Diving deep to Ultimate Spinach’s “Mind Flower”
Q: What importance do you give to the album art, when digging? Would you buy an album just for it’s cool cover? If so, name one. Where you ever fooled by a great cover with bad music?
A: Since I get a lot of my inspiration from visual things, I can learn a lot from the record cover. That’s why sometimes I buy records because of interesting artwork. Sometimes, indeed, the only good thing about the record is its cover. Like The Clebanoff Strings’ “Like Paganini”.
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I think the best thing about digging is discovery. That’s what makes the digging and the music itself a very exciting thing. Collecting music is not only about owning records, it’s about being able to discover them for others. Every artist that steps into the studio and hits the record button, hopes that his recording will be heard by as many people as possible. Most of those artists find their way to obscurity.We, record diggers, are, probably, the last hope for their creation to reach the listeners’ ears. There’s no use in a 1000 dollar record, if you never play it for other people. Music is created to be heard, and being able to share it with others is a great privilege.

www.markeyfunk.com

www.myspace.com/markeyfunk

http://markeyfunk.bandcamp.com/album/forgot-the-word

http://markeyfunk.bandcamp.com/album/souci-soleil-couchant-7-amdlt001

http://www.kudosrecords.co.uk/release/AMDLT001/Les_Hippies_Souci_Marigold_.html

2 Responses

    1. Very cool. I’m jealous of all the international records that Isreali crate diggers probably find. Mark is clearly legit. I like the message: “Share the music with others.”

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