will-lynn
7th June 2013

Interview: Jurassic 5

Will Lynn catches up with the J5 producer on origins, arguments and 99 cent downloads
Interview: Jurassic 5
Nu-Mark (far left)

Despite the vicious beasts their name inevitably conjures up in the minds of most, Jurassic 5 are a group notorious for their laid-back beats and smooth MCing.  I spoke to the architect of many of these beats, DJ/Producer DJ Nu-Mark (real name Mark Potsic). I spent the afternoon leading up to speaking to Potsic slipping in and out of terrifying daydreams in which I fumbled my words and made a prize donut of myself.  Really I should have been revising.  However the moment came and I was greeted with the most chilled Californian I have ever spoken to, who immediately put me at ease by tha0nking me for calling and referring to me as ‘my man’.

The group formed in 1993 and Potsic seemed keen to reflect on the early days.  ‘When we started in the early 90’s, there were two groups originally. A group called Unity Committee, which was comprised of Chali 2na, Cut Chemist and Mark 7even.  There was another group called Rebels of Rhythm, which was Akil and Shaunie Mac who passed away.  I met both groups rehearsing for a gig called Rat Race, which invited MCs and a live funk band on stage.  So J5 is kinda like two groups as one plus me.  I was the DJ of that live event and I met them there.  We stated rehearsing together and experimenting’.

J5 were a product of the West Coast scene, notable for legends of the genre such as Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.  I ask Potsic if they were a major influence on him and the group – ‘For me personally, how I cut my teeth and got my start in the music business was DJing house parties,’ he explains, his smooth Californian accent becoming more noticeable as he reminisces, ‘And if you didn’t play NWA or West Coast hip hop in general people would stop dancing.  People would come right up to the booth and tell you whether you were doing your thing or not.’  Making reference to the group, he remembers the influence being less musical.  ‘As a group as a whole I think it did have some influence, not so much as how we wanted to sound, but what was out there, what was relevant in the streets and what the competition was like.  It was just embedded in the culture here on the West Coast,’ he recollects, a smile filtering into his voice.

We go on to discuss the extended discography of J5, from their early EP’s to their fully-fledged LP’s.  Potsic is quick to select a favourite. ‘Power in Numbers! Well the EP was really special too, as it was our first real go at it,’ he admits, citing the lack of stress the group was under in the Power in Numbers era as the main reason behind its enjoyable construction.  He shows his 90s tendencies by using the slightly retro turn of phrase ‘finding the groove’ to describe the group’s harmony.

Harmony is not always the case when it comes to the music industry, especially with groups.  When I ask Potsic about J5’s inner relations, he immediately laughs off the idea of proper disagreements.  ‘There are always disagreements.  We were like brothers.  It’s actually really healthy.  It’s like six men bringing up a child, the music was our baby.’ So if you’re unconvinced by the idea of polygamistic gay adoption, Jurassic’s music surely shows the benefits.  Potsic appears to think very fondly of his past band mates and current friends, and I become more curious as to why they split and ended something so fruitful.  ‘I think you just reach that time when you want to move on to something else’ he softly muses.  ‘Not everybody wanted to do something different, but a good amount did’.

Jurassic 5 embodied an era when technology was starting to have an affect on society, but nowhere near to the extent of contemporary times.  There were no stars breaking through Youtube or Facebook and much less facile communication.  Potsic seems unhappy with the change and describes to me what has been altered from an insider’s perspective – ‘It doesn’t even share the same complexion as when we started,’ he laments, ‘It’s much tougher now to earn money.  Even when deals are being struck at major labels they’re doing things called 360 deals, where they give you a lump sum up front, but take money from your shows, which really doesn’t have anything to do with the label. It’s gotten a lot trickier. That said, it’s easier to market with the advances of technology, like Youtube.  The 99 cent download hurt us a lot.’ He speaks of a short-term memory loss syndrome among today’s music buying population. ‘Now you have to stay in people’s faces or they forget you.  You have to consistently give them little after little.’

The band is performing at Parklife and various other festivals this coming summer.  I was unaware of their history with regards to UK shows, but Potsic quickly confirms that the UK was a second home to the group.  ‘Oh yeah we played there. We owe a lot of our success and notoriety to the UK.  You embraced us first, gave us our first gold record.  People thought we were British’ he laughs.

Regardless of the stupidity involved in this assumption, it bodes well for Parklife.  The group connects well with the British and the summer weather is certainly suited to a J5 soundtrack.  Potsic is unaware of fellow performers at the festival, simply because they are performing all over the place, and there are too many line-ups to memorize.  However, he does cite Hudson Mohawke, a young Scottish DJ who worked on Kanye West’s Cruel Summer, as one to keep an eye out for.

Although J5 are not officially reforming, you can see them at Parklife and get new, free music at unclenu.


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