We caught up with Toronto-based Dj/Producer Marcus Visionary, who has been representing Jungle/DNB for over 2 decades. We chat about his upbringing, his new project Visionary Hi Fi and the importance of showcasing the roots of Drum & Bass.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! What are you up to?
I just got back from a winter tour in Europe so I’ve been getting some needed rest over the past week.Now it’s time to get my studio computer running again as my old one passed away two days before my tour. Other than that I’m busy getting a load of releases ready for Liondub International and Inner City Dance. I’ve also been planning some Jungle & U.K Garage events in Toronto.
To give our readers some background, please tell us where you are from, a little about your childhood and past musical inspirations.
I’m from Toronto Canada. I grew up just outside of the city in Scarborough. Music was all around the house as we sponsored most of my family to come live in Canada from Guyana. I grew up on loads of Reggae, Soca, Soul, Funk and even Rock music. My Dad & cousins were all into music and my cousin would DJ our family parties. I got my start Dj’ing very young as he would select the music for me and I would play it. Essentially I got my start in music from my family’s basement parties. When I was 15, my sister’s friend came to one of the parties and introduced me to a company called “Non Chalant”. I started playing Hip Hop, RnB, Reggae & Soca at clubs in Toronto soon after that.
Do you remember the moment when you discovered Jungle/DNB?
As a kid I loved music but obviously I was too young to go out. I would listen to a lot of community/University radio. I used to listen to Dave Kingston’s reggae show on 88.1 CKLN as well as the “Masterplan” on CIUT and Ron Nelsons Fantastic Voyage Hip Hop show on CKLN. The show that changed my life though was called Radio London on 88.1 [which was] hosted by a British Ex Pat named Malik X. He used to play a lot of Soul and Rare Groove at the beginning but soon started playing what he would call “Ragga Techno’ and early hardcore records. He used to get white labels sent over from his family. What got me hooked was the way he presented the music. I had never heard that U.K pirate radio style hosting before. He had a great way of making you interested in a record by using British slang. I got hooked on early Rebel MC, Shut up & Dance, the early Warp bleep music. It was an exciting time for me musically.
In this fast paced world of digital downloads, controllers, and sub genres of sub genres, how important is it to stay in touch with the roots of Jungle/DnB?
With the internet, things move so fast now a days. Music has less staying power. I remember some tracks would be played by big DJ’s for up to a year in the 90’s. Now everyone is so caught up in playing new material that there is not much time to create ‘BIG’ tracks that everyone is playing. It’s also because every label or camp is playing a different sound. In the 90’s people were playing music across the board but once something hit, you would hear everyone supporting that track. It’s very important for me to show people the roots of the music. I don’t necessarily play a lot of old school but I play a lot of current music with heavy Jungle influences and also there are a lot of current remixes of old school music. I strongly support the new wave of Jungle in 2015. There is a ton of great music and artists out there right now in Jungle/DnB. The scene is extremely healthy in every sub genre. It really feels like something new is brewing in the Jungle.
I understand that you have new project, Visionary Hi Fi. How did that come about?
I started Visionary Hi Fi to create a live performance for festivals, club nights or just intimate small parties. I’ve been a champion of vocal Jungle since 2005 and because of that MC’s were simply hosting my sets. I wanted to create something that helped to celebrate the MC’s and singers that I’ve been working with over the years. Visionary Hi Fi is a sound system performance taking things back to the days of Reggae sound system but instead we mainly play current Ragga Jungle. Essentially I will play a vocal version then I will switch to an instrumental version for the MC’s and singers to toast on. The sound is equipped with Sound FX and communication between all of the artists is crucial. I had the honor of launching Visionary Hi Fi on Kool London on February 10th with the help of Navigator MC, David Boomah & Yush.
As a solo artist, you have worked with an impressive list of Dancehall, Roots and Reggae (Johnny Osborune Gregory Isaacs & Bunny General) as well as in DNB (L Double, Benny Page & Mutt, just to name a few). How is this different from your other projects?
I’m fascinated with sound system culture. I’ve always wanted to have a Jungle sound system and this is exactly that. We do exactly what a Reggae sound system would do but we play Jungle. This gives me an opportunity to highlight the singers and MC’s as well. Income in the music industry is generated by live performance now [because] digital sales don’t really amount to very much. It’s interesting how things have come full circle and now we’re back to the roots and the original tradition of live performance.
Are there any plans for a tour?
I’m hoping that eventually we’ll be able to take Visionary Hi Fi on tour. I’m currently planning my U.K/European tour for August 2015 so if anyone out there is interested in a Visionary Hi Fi session please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
How can our readers find out more about yourself and Visionary Hi Fi?
The best place to find out about what I’m up to is by locking into my Visionary mix show on KoolLondon the second and last Tuesday of every month from 2-4 EST and 7-9 GMT. You can also listen back via Mixcloud
Big shouts and thank you to all of my supporters and lovers of Jungle music. Big up my label mates, Liondub International, Lush at Inner City Dance, Curtis Lynch at Necessary Bass, Benny Page at High Culture, Shy FX & the Digital Soundboy Family, Serial Killaz, Chopstick Dubplate, Irish Moss, Tania @ UMC, Gin Saya my U.S agent, Michael SP, Canadian agent. Kool London Fam, Rieo Sky. Jungle to the World 2015!
Canadian Bookings: email@example.com
U.S Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org