Artist Interview: DJ Markem [Heard It From Nas] Miami 2018

We had the chance to meet up with DJ/Producer Markem, while we were in Miami for Miami Music Week. We met with him in front of the Bayfront Park where the legendary Ultra Music Festival Miami takes place. Read on to learn more about this hometown Miami DJ and his music career.

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We know that you and David Tort run the music label HoTL Records. What made you and David form the label, and what are some major successes that you’ve received from it?

We met 10 years ago in Columbia, he was playing a party in Columbia. He was always a huge inspiration to me as a producer. We met that day and we shared the same taste in music, so the friendship grew from there. I use to be a resident DJ at Space Miami and so was he so we just built that relationship and started working on music together. We realized after a certain time we had so much music together that couldn’t be released on other record labels, that why not try to make our own.

Last year we had a track called “Strangers” that was released on Tiesto’s AFTR:HRS record Label that is a sub label from Spinnin’. It became a huge summer track, and we were in Beatport Top 100 for a year with two million stream on Spotify. That opened the door to many places. It was the biggest accomplishment we’ve had with a track.

 

Do you have any new music/projects that you are working on now?

Talking about “Strangers” we are working on the follow up record to it. The music is done, now just trying to find a vocalist to finish it up. We have a few new remixes that we are working on for our new label. However we aren’t sure on release dates. Sometimes you want to schedule thing but you just have to go with the flow. We have many tracks so over the next 6-7 months you’ll be hearing a lot of them.

We know that you did the massive ‘Strangers’ track on Tiesto’s AFTR:HRS label last year, what was that experience like?

We never thought it was gonna be like that actually. We made the track by the end of 2016 and being honest we never played it before it got released. We played it last year at Miami Music Week and it was sent to a lot of DJ’s as a promo. For us it was weird, we made something that was really different from what the sound was at the time.

Some times as a producer you don’t know if people are gonna like it, you aren’t sure what’s gonna happen. But when people received the promo and they started playing it everywhere and they wanted the full track. You’re like what happened?!

Is this your first time playing in Miami? What do you love most about Miami and the music culture here?

I’ve been living in Miami for 17 years, I moved from Venezuela. I played last year during Miami Music Week it was an incredible time. You feel like family here, for me I’m home, this is my hometown. I have friends that come from all over the world that come here just for a week. Plus all the great parties where you get to listen to a lot of new music for me thats the best part.

I love the mix of cultures. I’ve been living here for the last 17 years. You have a mix of people from Europe, South America, everywhere in the world. That makes this city quite special.

It feels amazing when people ask you where you are from and you’re able to say MIAMI. People are always like wow it’s the party city of the world.

What do you need to have around you and/or a location that you need to be in for you to start your producing process?

I just need to listen to a few tracks that are not related to electronic music to get me some time of inspiration. What you really need is that idea that comes to your mind before producing a track. Because it’s difficult to get that done when you tell yourself you just need to work. Compared to being in the studio and something comes to mind and just going with the flow. I listen to a lot of Alternative Rock, Latin music, and Old Salsa music. That’s why when you listen to our tracks you hear a lot of percussions and Latin rhythm. Its what I listened to when I was little.

 

What is one thing that your fans don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I’m from Venezuela. I make sure to be clear about that when people ask me. Most people think I’m American because I’ve been in Miami for so long. I’m Venezuelan and proud.

How has your music evolved since you first started producing and songwriting?

I started as a club promoter for a Latin club. That was in 2003. EDM wasn’t as big as it is right now. When I started learning how to DJ everyone was like you need to mix Top 40 tracks but that wasn’t what I wanted to play. So I started playing Trance, but I’ve always been a lover of house. I’m playing more Progressive house now, I’m more on the tech side. It’s always evolving.

Who is your biggest music inspiration? Who do you have a lot of respect for?

That’s a tough question! I wouldn’t say one specific person or band or DJ. I’m just a guy who loves all music that is made with some form of love. You can hear tracks and not care for them, but I listen to 1000 demos a month, there are tracks that are just made to be made but you know the ones that are made from the soul. As a producer I would say David Tort, he was one of my biggest inspirations and now he’s my business partner.

I had the chance to tour with David Guetta and Erik Morillo and when I see what they have done in their careers, it is huge and I really respect that. When I started opening for those guys I kind of didn’t believe it. I did two tours for him in Colombia, and it was like when you see someone on the TV or listen to his tracks and then all of a sudden you’re on stage opening for him its surreal. I had to ask myself if I was really handing off the decks to him.

 

What is one song that never gets old for you, no matter how many times you hear it?

Oxia – Domino. Every year I make a different edit of it just to keep it fresh but every time you drop it people are like, “WOW.”

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