Who’s Jack spoke to Manchester based rap outfit Murkage at this year’s Parklife Weekender, their tune Paperweight is featured on pop up radio station Reebok Radio which launched at the festival on the weekend.
Early on Sunday afternoon, at Platts Field, two hooded monks enter from either side of the main stage, orange smoke billowing from the end of two lit flares. Without warning, Murkage fly onstage accompanied by a guttural bassline that pulls in half of the festival like a tractor beam.
The crowd collects, not only for their tight, yet grandiose and epic tunes, but because they’re intrigued by the notion of Murkage itself. The band is part of a collective called the Murkage Cartel which consists of a huge number of people stemming from a wide range of creative disciplines including film making, photography and music.
When I meet them backstage it’s clear immediately that there is a strong creative drive and a certain innovation at play in what they are trying to achieve, especially when it comes to dispelling the stereotypes and expectations surrounding modern rap and grime music.
WHO’S JACK: How did Murkage come about?
GAIKA: Dave said to me he wanted to bring back garage. He had a brainwave, he’s a genius, and then he started doing his night. People started to gravitate towards it so we created this whole group of creative people. The Murkage Cartel. We started getting demand to go and play shows so we made a record and the first record we made we got cussed. By the second record the papers were like “this is the best thing to come out of Manchester in the last 15 years”. Then everything kinda went from there.
WJ: What does the name mean to you?
G: It means different things to different people. I didn’t come up with it, David did, but to me Murkage is about breaking down old ideas and coming with new ones. Our thing is about freedom of mind and soul and spirit, so that’s what Murkage means to me. A part of that is rejecting all the fucking bullshit materialism swag shit. That’s why we dress like this.
WJ: You’re distinguished from other acts straight away in the way that you’re styled.
DAVE: For me a big part of it is, and people don’t have to do this, but right now I think it’s important to reject the role that society foists on you. You’re young and you’re pure and then as you grow up society foists a role on you depending on your social standing and your economic standing and fuck that. We’re MCs but it doesn’t matter, we can do whatever we want. Whatever we wanna do we just do, there’s no comfort zone.
WJ: What sort of stuff did you listen to growing up? I can hear some Beastie Boys in there but what else?
D: Yeah Beastie Boys, Wu Tang, Nas, a lot of punk records like Black Flag and shit like that.
RANEN: The Clash, Black Sabbath and then Wiley and Dizzee Rascal.
D: I grew up in East London so I listened to a lot of pirate radio stuff like Deja.
R: The one thing that links us all is garage. Even though we’re not really that, it’s the one thing that links us all together. We all loved it at different times.
WJ: It’s great that you mention Black Sabbath because I can hear those roots coming through in your stuff.
R: Definitely. It’s down to the epicness. When a band like that comes in to make a record they think epically. You can tell by the intros and when we do it it’s exactly the same we think on that sort of level.
D: I mean if you look at our drummer, we picked him. He’s a metal drummer. We could have picked some slick soul drummer – No. We picked a guy that hits the fuck out of the drums. When we’re looking at our stage show, we’re really looking at stadium bands, we’re looking at Queen, we’re looking at Metallica, shit like that.
WJ: What about Dizzee? Has his popularity influenced you?
D: Boy In The Corner, that record is responsible for so much. He is someone, that as an MC his stage show is always sick. I remember when he won the Mercury. I was in the queue at HMV back when people used to buy CDs. And I saw this guy, who was like a banker or something or an office guy in a suit, and he had the yellow cover. Buying Boy In The Corner. He gave us a window in to the futility of it all but also the hope of what was possible.
WJ: Are you big Reebok fans?
D: Back in the day, for me, it was all about Reebok Workouts and these guys were Reebok Classics. If you’re on your moves, it’s about workouts, those things are durable. (Laughs) I don’t think that’s gonna make it to the Reebok website but still.
You can listen to Paperweight on Reebok Radio here.