The man formerly known as Marcus Intalex talks to Greg Scarth about his move from drum and bass into house and techno, paying tribute to his heroes and why he wants his music to sound like it’s been made by a computer.
It’s rare for artists even to attempt parallel careers in disparate musical genres, let alone achieve success in both simultaneously. After a long and distinguished career in drum and bass, Marcus Kaye – aka Marcus Intalex – has, in the space of just a couple of years, established himself as a consistently exciting house and techno producer under the name Trevino, to widespread acclaim.
Kaye hasn’t turned his back on drum and bass entirely. Intalex remains a going concern, along with the Soul:r and Revolve:r labels, which will be joined by a new house and techno label later this year, just as soon as Marcus decides on a name for it (“It’s full speed ahead, but at my speed. I need to pull my finger out,” he explains).
However, it’s the Trevino project which is not only drawing praise from figures as diverse as Marcel Dettmann, Craig Richards and Martyn, but reigniting Kaye’s own passion for making music, as we discovered when we spoke to him at home in Manchester.
Trevino: Probably more so than ever. The whole Trevino project’s given me a new lease of life. As much as I’ve always loved drum and bass, doing the same thing so long you see it changing so much and you see the sound moving away from what you’re into. More importantly than anything else, rather than me thinking about myself with Trevino it’s music that’s important to me. For me it’s never been about being the biggest name or the most successful producer. It’s always just been about enjoying it, and there have been periods where I’ve not enjoyed it as much as I should have done. I’ve always had a love for house music – my first gig was in ’88 and obviously there was no such thing as drum and bass back then. I’ve just followed it through its many sounds and guises.
I guess once you’ve decided to go one way musically you kind of have to let things go and I guess it was all about the bleeps and the basslines and breaks that got me interested [in drum and bass] back in the early 90s. At the time house music was pretty cheesy, all the big Italian piano-ey things – I hated that, and that was the prevalent sound up in the north – but I’ve always liked house and techno. House was the first thing, but it was the sound of Derrick May and the Detroit guys that got my full attention and I’ve always been interested in that side of things. It was when that sound started to come back, sounding like it did when I was first into it, that I was like, ‘Hold on a minute, this is really exciting.’ Do you know what I mean? People moved away from the sort of dubstep thing to a merge of everything at once, and that’s how I remembered the early 90s to be. As far as DJing goes, that was probably the most exciting time for me. No other life distractions, just being a young 20 year-old, wanting to get into music as much as possible. God, I’m going a bit off track here – you’ll have to excuse me.
No, go for it. It’s really good to hear how excited you are about it all.
Anyway, the revival of that got me interested, so I started to try and make stuff, which brings me to where we are now. What it’s done in terms of enjoyment is that I’m loving doing techno, obviously, but I’m also enjoying doing drum and bass more because I don’t feel like it’s as much of a concern any more. If that’s the only thing you do then you’ve got to be completely on point all the time and the pressure’s always there. What Trevino’s done for Intalex is completely taken all the pressure away to the point where I feel like if people don’t like it it doesn’t bother me any more. I’m just doing it ‘cause I enjoy it. I’m enjoying the studio more than ever. I could literally not DJ and just spend the rest of my life in there, if only you could make a decent living out of it.
I'm enjoying doing drum and bass more because I don’t feel like it’s as much of a concern any more.
It sounds like you feel it’s a bit of a relief to get away from drum and bass for a while?
It is in a way. There’s a thing about drum and bass where some of the music’s pretty fucking incredible – really thoughtful and quite cool – but at the same time the view from people outside drum and bass is that it’s not cool at all, and I completely get that. It gets to the point sometimes where you’re a bit embarrassed saying you’re a drum and bass DJ. People get this impression you play all this fucking hundred-mile-an-hour crap that’s on the radio or played at big festivals. The shit that comes out of there is nothing to do with me and it belittles the love of music that some of us who do this have. I don’t want to feel like I’m not credible. I’ve put the hours in and made the music and played the sets I have because most of it is pretty credible. It just feels like you’re losing all your credibility because you’re playing this music that everybody thinks is shit, even though they don’t get to hear the better side of it.
In terms of self-confidence and enjoyment, I feel like I’m now involved again in a scene that’s moving forward, whereas drum and bass doesn’t feel like that at all – even though some of the music’s still getting better, it’s looked upon as a scene that’s almost dying. That’s a heartbreaker in its own sense. To be back involved and mentioned by peers who I’ve respected for a long time, it’s exciting for me. I guess the drum and bass scene couldn’t get exciting for me again because of the amount of time I’ve been in it and the fact I know it back to front.
I feel quite innocent in the house and techno world because as much as I do know about it there’s a hell of a lot I don’t. It’s almost like starting again, and I think you need that excitement in your life – I had to do this for my own good. I’ve got to put myself in situations where I don’t feel that confident. With drum and bass I can just turn up to a gig, play records, know I’m gonna make people dance, know I’m gonna make people enjoy themselves without even thinking about it. I want to be in a situation where I get nervous again. You can’t just keep doing the same thing all your life and get away with it – you need to challenge yourself. The whole Trevino thing’s been like that and I’m a happier person for it, that’s for sure.
the view from people outside drum and bass is that it’s not cool at all, and I completely get that.
Did you feel like you were coasting with Intalex?
Yeah, without question. It’s a natural thing. I know how to do it – I know what I’m into and I know how to play it. It’s not like I have to… – in fact, I haven’t done for a long time – to practise anything in terms of DJing. I don’t have a mix at home any more. But I do have to put time aside to do it for Trevino. There’s all this fucking music, I’m finding new artists and new music pretty much daily. I turn up at a gig, I’ve got all these tunes on my laptop, I look at it and I know it’s all good but I don’t know what the fuck anything is, literally. I have to mix at home a couple of times out a week just to keep up with it and pick out the tunes that I really do like and the ones that I know are gonna work. In that way I’m enjoying it more as well because I’m more involved in the music again.
You sound like an excited teenager.
I guess after years of not being excited it had to come out that way.