An Interview with South African Record Producer and DJ, Mark Stent
Inspired By Music is an interview series that was created to shine a bright spotlight on the music and entertainment industry, creative entrepreneurship, and Africa-based music professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes. The third installment of the series features an interview with South Africa-based record producer, and deejay, Mark Stent.
How did it all start for you in the music industry?
I’ve been involved in music my whole life, my father was a musician. I became a DJ when I was 18 an never looked back. I only went professional after many years in the corporate world and that was 12 years ago.
Is there an interesting story behind your stage name?
My nickname, “The World’s Strongest DJ”, comes from a joke actually. I used to be SA bodybuilding champion and a friend of mines sister started a joke group on Facebook with that name. I guess it stuck 🙂
What does house music mean to you?
When I first heard house music in 1993 I was immediately drawn to it. It’s the one style of music that is universal and versatile – it can cater for all likes and all moods.
I love the fact that it can be fused with other styles to create hybrid sub-genres of house music. For me, house music is literally LIFE: I breathe, live, and sleep it every second of each day, and I love it!
How do you think the listening public has been receiving your work?
I think I have been very blessed in being able to live my dreams, 12 years as a professional in this game has been taxing, but I’m still here. I have had great success on radio over the last couple of years and people seem to be enjoying the stuff I put out.
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Any thoughts on the current state of African music in a digital age?
This digital age has so many facets to it, pros and cons. I love the fact that it’s much more accessible now and that there are so many ways to consume it and that it’s much easier to producer and get your music out there, BUT, in the current age its becoming harder for musicians to make it, as people are not buying music anymore, many are still pirating and the rest are streaming.
With the influence of social media on peoples decisions people are putting more weight on social influence than on actual music, so I think that the state of musicality is decreasing and the quality too.
In essence, if you have a lot of money for marketing and are a social whizz, you have more chance of your music getting out there. What happened to just good music being heard?
How would you say streaming has changed the music industry?
Streaming has advantages and disadvantages: Firstly, It’s great because apps like Apple Music and Spotify cut back on piracy as people are listening to the music legally inside the app.
Again though, as a musician you need to do enormous amounts of streams to make any money at all, which makes its success for the musician boil down to marketing and promotion.
I do like the algorithms for helping you to find new music based on your taste, I think I that way a lot of people are being exposed to new things.
When would you say is the right time for local artists to promote internationally?
According to the bigger labels they say that only when you are doing well in SA will they send your stuff overseas, but I disagree.
Look at Kyle Watson, his music is so international and doesn’t get as much love here as it does internationally. I think it depends on the genre of music you are producing.
For Pop, in general, you will need to have some success at home before you are noticed abroad.
Do you think music branding is important? Why?
These days, music branding is EVERYTHIING. It’s all about an image and what sets you apart from the million other artists out there. It’s also branding that allows and artist to make more income from endorsement and other commercial vendors.
Let’s talk social media. How has social networking benefited your brand?
Social networking has been brilliant for me, allowing me to connect with my followers and supporters, to update them on new information, new projects and even to gather information. It’s literally an imperative tool in my business.
What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked?
That’s a really difficult one, because every project has individual special moments, be it working with collaborator, other artist or learning a new technique.
I think though, [the] one that sticks out for me is working with rapper Rouge. I’ve never worked with someone who just pulled of a recording so flawlessly and so quickly. I think the whole recording lasted about 20 [minutes] and BOOM: hit!
Given the opportunity to rework a 90’s classic song, which would you choose? Why?
There is only one song: Nightcrawlers – ‘Push The Feeling On’. I did an unofficial rework of it a couple of years ago, but to do an official remake/remix would be amazing, it’s my favourite song of all time.
Can you list 3 emerging SA artists we should be listening to? Why?
(1) Kharmatronix, (2) Zee and (3) New Hero Band: I’ve worked with all of them…they have unlimited talent and potential, great attitudes and just good people. They love what they do and it shows in their music
What can we expect from you in the near future?
My new album, entitled ‘SWITCH’, is out soon – some big collaborations with people like: Sketchy Bongo, New Hero Band, Justin Chalice, Basel Grey, Sabrina Alves and more.
I also have a gqom style alias that no one knows about that is doing really well.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Be HUMBLE, work HARD, be PATIENT and keep improving yourself. It takes time to understand and make it in this industry.