The life of Mark Ernestus is an adventurous story dedicated to music. He is the founder of the legendary Hard Wax record store, which laid the foundation for Berlin's electronic club music scene in 1989. He played a key role in establishing the Berlin-Detroit nexus, and started creating music as one half of Basic Channel (aka Maurizio), with its immeasurably influential hybrid of Dub and Techno. As Rhythm & Sound, the duo refined this signature sound alongside a range of vocalists - most extensively Tikiman (aka Paul St. Hilaire), besides Reggae legends like Cornell Campbell, Jennifer Lara, Willi Williams, and Sugar Minott. In recent years he remixed Tony Allen, Tortoise, Konono N° 1, and Shangaan Electro. Together with Mark Ainley from Honest Jons records in London he runs the Dug Out label which is dedicated to lost Reggae killers. Ernestus’ DJ sets feature Dub and Reggae, mostly instrumental, from deep roots to militant steppers. His Carhartt Radio mix with Tikiman on the mic as intro man, MC, and singer is loaded with rare gems from legends like Prince Jazzbo, Nitty Gritty, or Ken Boothe - mixed with live effects and treatments, dubwise. We took the chance for a quick chat with both to gain a little insight into their world of sound.
(Mark Ernestus & Tikiman)
How do you select the records you re-release on labels like Dug Out or Basic Replay?
Mark Ernestus: Dug Out is the currently active imprint, Mark Ainley from Honest Jons and me are deciding together. Ideally for me it's stuff that stands out and stands alone, that is killer - regardless if you think you like Reggae or not. And of course the more obscure and odd it is the more fun it is to present it, but it's not a must.
Is there any Reggae record you wanted to re-release and you couldn’t?
Mark Ernestus: A lot.
What does a perfect Dub or Reggae tune need in your eyes?
Mark Ernestus: I wouldn't try to define that. I guess a perfect tune would defy definition.
Do you regular fly to Jamaica to dig for old treasures?
Mark Ernestus: No. Jamaica is not a good place to look for records.
How do you get in touch with studios/labels/producers/artists whose records you want to re-release?
Mark Ernestus: You have to know people.
How are their reactions?
Mark Ernestus: Some are reasonable, some are crazy.
Why you re-release 80s Reggae and Dub?
Mark Ernestus: We're not constrained to 80s stuff but for me it's one of the most interesting periods, the transition from roots to digital.
Can you tell us a bit about your new label Ndagga and it’s content?
Mark Ernestus: That's for the Senegal connection, the Jeri-Jeri project that I'm producing. It's a collaboration with a pool of musicians - mostly percussionists, who play Mbalax. Mbalax is a genre popular in Senegal and the Gambia that I have become increasingly addicted to in recent years. It can be highly complex rhythmically and at the same time mercilessly minimalistic.
On what future projects are you working on?
Mark Ernestus: With the Ndagga stuff I have plenty on my plate for now, especially with the perspective of doing more live shows. It's a killer live project.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio show?
Mark Ernestus: It's a spontaneous selection of some long-time favorites that I felt like giving some exposure.
You been close to the birth of Techno and followed his rise from day scratch: how important is this experience for what you do?
Mark Ernestus: It will always be where I come from as a producer. It defines my primary perspective.
Image #68618 (Tikiman / Photo by Frank Paul)
Tikiman - what’s your favorite Reggae deejay of all time?
Tikiman: There are many like Sugar Minott, Prince Lincoln Thompson & The Royal Rasses, Ijahman Levi..
And who are you listening to these days?
Tikiman: Keith Hudson, Ranking Dread, Midnight, and some unknown various artists playlist.
How would your describe the chemistry between you and Mark when you are working together?
Can you name us 5 things you used to believe!
Tikiman: I never really believe, I've always been a checker, checking and balancing.
What superpower would you like to have?
Tikiman: The power of love!
Can you name us people that should collaborate for a better world?
Tikiman: This is every one's duty.
You are located in Berlin. What are your favorite spots and secrets that you would personally recommend to somebody that comes around for a visit?
Tikiman: There are so many nice places in Berlin - it all depends the person.
Mark Ernestus Discography