Psyked in the City

Exclusive interview with DJ Mark: I knew when I started that I would never give up

Mark Cullinan AKA DJ Mark is easily one of Cape Town’s most known and loved DJs. Praised for his full-on psychedelic style and an ability to blend older and more contemporary sounds, Mark continues to draw a massive crowd no matter wherever he performs.

Interview Psyked in the City

*These questions were compiled by Brandon Menzies.

Psyked:
Hi Mark. First things first; what inspired you to embark on the path to becoming a psytrance DJ? And how did you first become exposed to the festival scene?

Mark:
I’ve always been interested in electronic music; I used to listen to some house when I was still in school. One day I found myself standing on the floor at a mammoth psytrance festival; it was the millennium. I was in awe! I turned to two of my mates and said, “I want to play at these jols,” and I pointed towards the DJ. Two months later, I had a mixer and two discmans, and that’s where it all began.

 

Psyked:
How long did it take for you to land your first gig and where was it? Did you have any expectations at all?

Mark:
The psytance scene is a very tough nut to crack; don’t be fooled by thinking that people come out of nowhere and just start playing. After being a bedroom DJ for a couple of years, I began missioning to play gigs in 2003. I played a few indoors here and there for a few years. I finally got an opportunity to perform at an outdoor many years later – I think it was in 2007. I never really had any expectations but I knew when I started that I would never give up.

Psyked in the City

Psyked:
Do you have any mentors who have inspired you or influenced your brand of psytrance  along the way?

Mark:
Sheez, too many to mention. There have been loads of great producers in the last few decades; if it sounds good I play it.

Psyked:
What record label first assigned you and how did they approach you?

Mark:
The first (proper) label to approach me was Expo Records and I’m still with them now. The ‘mainskiet’ head honcho, Grant Plemming, sent me an email with an offer I couldn’t refuse. But I didn’t tell him that until we met at Rafikis and discussed the ins and outs *laughs.* It’s a great label to play for so I’ve never looked back.

Psyked:
Tell us about  your first big gig. Did you ever expect to reach that stage in your career?

Mark:
I would have to say 2009 Rezonance was my first major gig,. And yes, I did expect to get that far; it was my goal in ‘99  to perform at that New Year’s party. It only took me 10 years. 🙂

Psyked:
What’s it like performing at a large event such as Vortex for the first time with hundreds of people staring at you, waiting for you to shake the earth?

Mark:
I’ve always had a lot of respect for Vortex. As one of the oldest productions, it was an honour to first play for them and it still is today.

Psyked in the City South Africa

Psyked:
Have you ever had an epic fail on stage?

Mark:
I have had one or two in my career but seeing as we are on the subject of Vortex, there’s one that comes to mind. It was Easter Vortex 2012. A DJ who was meant to play after me never rocked up so I ended up playing for three hours and played a track twice by mistake. It had a voice sample in it; by the time it came on, I knew I had played the track already. But I don’t think anyone noticed.

Psyked in the City

Psyked:
Can you recall a specific Vortex party that brings back some really good memories?

Mark:
Vortex has always had a space in my heart so I can’t really specify one particular party. In terms of performing, their parties always hold a great crowd.

Psyked:
Having played at numerous Vortex events in the past, what are your feelings regarding the upcoming Phoenix Festival of Fire?

Mark:
I’m excited for every set I play, whether it be for 50 people or massive crowds. I try to go into sets with no expectations…. But it’s vortex, so it’s going to be good.

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