"THE MUSIC WILL SEE US THROUGH"
ON A HIGHER PLAIN WITH DJ MARQUES WYATT
Words by Carl Noone Jr.
Marques Wyatt has unwittingly become
the holy messenger of today's House music
scene, and with his suave and demure demeanor,
has become an iconoclastic figure in the
history of American nightlife. Currently
on tour in support of his latest mix effort,
Horizons, Marques is poised to take over
the helm as House music's new spiritual
A LITTLE HISTORY
Beginning in the mid 80's, Marques Wyatt
introduced L.A. to the bustling beats
of New York City with the help of Frankie
Knuckles, Larry Levan, David Morales,
and others who regularly played at his
warehouse parties. From 'Mac's Garage'
to 'Brass' (where he introduced L.A. to
live acts such as The Brand New Heavies,
Digable Planets, and Jamiroquai); from
'Does Your Momma Know?' to the current
hot night in L.A., 'DEEP: Where House
Lives', Marques Wyatt has been there all
In 2000, Marques released his third single
as an artist, "For Those That Like
To Get Down", on San Francisco's
OM Records label, which quickly became
a worldwide dance floor anthem and introduced
his working philosophy to the global dance
community. 2002 saw the release of the
full-length CD, For Those That Like To
Get Down and a mix CD entitled Sound Design
Volume 1(both on OM Records), which showcased
his talent as a writer, producer and DJ
and helped to cement him as an international
Om Records recently released his latest
mix effort, entitled Horizons.
A soulful mix chock full of ethnic flavors
and spiritual aromas, it is the latest
presentation of Wyatt's sound and exposes
the general public to the warming sensation
Finally on the other end of my phone,
and the tape machine rolling, I proceed
with my onslaught of questions and comments
for Mr. Wyatt, who openly accepts the
unexpected phone call.
"Both of them happen quite naturally,
so the music that I choose is really the
music that my spirit chooses', Marques
tells me, when I ask about his own personal
connection between his music and his spirituality.
" It's not something I'm very conscious
of. I either like a song or I don't. I
don't think why. And the same thing for
my spirituality; I gravitated towards
certain beliefs that appeal to my life
and my spirit. I don't get into certain
denominations and whatnot. I just know
that we are ALL spiritual beings; I just
believe in a higher deity that definitely
exists in all of us", he adds, infusing
a touch of his own personal philosophy.
The topic soon turns to Miami and the
annual Winter Music Conference, which
over the years, has become a pilgrimage
for DJs and fans alike. "What makes
Miami in March so special to you?"
I ask, trying to get inside his head.
"It's a gathering of enthusiasts
from around the world, all in one place.
It's a rare opportunity, for us, being
traveling DJs, to have a place to meet,
and for all of our friends to meet. You
know what I mean? I have friends coming
in from Vancouver who are looking forward
to meeting other friends of mine. This
would never happen if it weren't for Miami
and the Conference. We will all be able
to sit down and have dinner together,
regardless of the music. It's a lot about
community as well."
When the subject comes up about the long-rumored
move to Las Vegas by the organizers of
WMC, Marques interjects; "There's
a tropical feel to Miami that's synonymous
with the music we've come to enjoy. Where
in Vegas are we going to get that?; have
outdoor parties like that? On the strip?
It would change the whole demographic
of it and I would definitely have to bow
out at that point."
I ask about the annual OM Records party,
which has become legendary during WMC.
(This past year's was held at Opium Gardens,
a major step-up from previous year's parties
held at the cramped Washington Street
Mecca known as Goddess) A bit of excitement
enters his tone; "It is definitely
one of my favorite venues in Miami. I
love the whole open-air thing. I'm just
proud to be part. It was getting too crazy,
a little out of hand, so we are definitely
proud to get Opium Gardens this year."
(Again, I turn the page, and change the
subject. This time around, let's talk
business, shall we?)"Is your relationship
with guys like Gunnar and Chris at OM
Records strictly "company"?"
I ask, delving into a little more personal
"No, not at all", he answers.
"I've got to say that the OM situation
has always been like a family. It really
is. We are fortunate to have this camaraderie.
There is a climate in the office where
I feel I can talk to anyone about various
aspects of my project, and they always
make themselves available. I feel like
things are worked on together and my opinions
are greatly valued."
Then the obvious topic of "Technology"
comes into the conversation. With the
advent of file-sharing killing the music
industry, especially the dance sector,
it was only appropriate that we dive in
head first to get to the bottom of Marques'
stance on the issue. Being an ardent supporter
of vinyl, and being a DJ for years, I
wondered aloud if the domination of CDs
and MP3s was a factor for him.
"I don't see myself doing the "Final
Scratch thing" because there is a
certain connection I feel with my records
and CDs. I do bring a CD book everywhere
I go, but I always have vinyl with me.
I just like to look back when I'm playing
and see it there. There is a certain comfort
in it, and it's also what attracted me
to the art. It reminds me of these long
expeditions I would go on to look for
vinyl, and I think some of these new DJs
coming up will be cheated out of that
certain kind of fun."
"I'd be a fool say that there's
not a possibility that vinyl could become
extinct, and even with myself, I bring
less and less records. Even if they are
my records that I transferred to CD, I
am still using a lot of CDs. You also
have to understand that for us guys that
are traveling, the whole CD casing has
been a blessing. And some of the clubs
have shoddy decks that skip, and when
they have 2 CD players, you really don't
have to deal with that. It's always good
to have that option. I will always bring
a bag of records with me, but there are
those rare occasions when I will use just
CDs because some people don't take their
set-up as serious as we do. So it's really
good to have that back-up with a CD."
A DJ of his caliber must painstakingly
choose, from a tidal wave of music, which
tracks make it to the dance floor and
which ones get left behind. Some are so
good, they wind up on a mix CD somewhere,
which begs the immortal question; "What
do you look for in a song?"
"Honestly, it could be anything;
the strings; the bass; but in the end,
it's also musicianship that pulls me in.
It's the substance, really, of the track
that entices my spirit. There is something
that I always say as far as records that
I gravitate towards; those are the ones
that when I'm listening to them, I can't
help but dance to. I'm dancing without
even realizing it. There is something
that happens to me, and I'm sure it happens
to others, that lets me to know it's for
me. It's been the same blueprint for me
even before I started DJ-ing. There are
some people that try to gauge what the
crowd might like. I ask, "Don't YOU
feel it?" Don't forget about that
part of it. As an artist, what we have
to offer is our own personal taste which
sets us apart. Sometimes you just have
to let the chips fall where they may because
sometimes the people might not connect
with what you trying to say, you know
what I mean? That's all part of being
an artist. I consider myself and many
of my peers "artists" because
of the way they present their art and
the way they live through their art. In
a true organic sense, it's what appeals
to them, as artists, which sets them apart.
That is our challenge as artists to thread
these songs together and create something.
Maybe a record we like might not appeal
to the crowd the way you hoped it would,
so that might entail you putting something
else with it to make it work. THAT is
Marques Wyatt has met that challenge
with flying colors.
Be sure to catch him on tour throughout
May 29th - Horizons Tour Date - The Paramount,
Santa Fe, NM (TBC)
May 30th - Mission Rock for PEACH, San
June 4th - Detroit Bar for Bristol Sessions,
Huntington Beach, CA
June 11th - Remedy @ DNA, San Francisco,
June 12th - Horizons Tour Date - Ohm,
June 15th - Knitting Factory for BPM,
Los Angles, CA
June 17th - Horizons Tour Date - Zubar,
June 18th - Horizons Tour Date - Exit
IN for Ritual, Nashville, TN
June 26th - Horizons Tour Date - Miami,
FL (venue TBC)
July 1st - SoundBar, Chicago, IL
July 3rd - King King, Los Angeles, CA