First up can you introduce yourself and tell New Zealand about the artist Mark Hardy?
Greetings New Zealand! This is Mark Hardy a.k.a Mr. Flexx Dem Proper representing the twin island of Trinidad and Tobago. I’m a young artist, songwriter, beat maker and budding entertainment consultant. I’m currently on the final year of my law degree externally from the University of London and music is my life!
Who/what are your major musical influences?
I listen to all types of music from dancehall, reggae and soca to jazz, dubstep and hip hop. My biggest influences are 3suns, The Mighty Shadow and Machel Montano (Trinidad and Tobago), Damian Marley, Busy Signal, Spragga Benz and Vybz Kartel (Jamaica)
How did Mark Hardy get into being a DJ/MC?
I started a group when I was a teenager called ‘The Breathless Krew’. We used to do parodies of popular mainstream songs at the time and one summer we did a demo which got the attention of local producer named Ken Holder who started working with us. He was definitely a mentor for us and taught me a lot about the music industry.
Have you been/are you involved in soundsystem culture?
I’m also a big fan of dubplates, I think the craziest dubplate I ever heard was the Michael Jackson Human Nature dubplate that Wyclef Jean and the Refugees Sound have in their dub box.
Can you tell the people a bit about the dancehall and soundsystem culture and scene in Trinidad and Tobago?
The soundsystem culture was really popular in Trinidad and Tobago when I was in secondary school (High School). Almost every month a new soundsystem group would crop up and sound clashes were pretty regular at that time. We’ve had big names like Bass Odyssey, Tony Matterhorn and Mighty Crown come to Trinidad to share the stage with our local soundsystems like Sel Construction, Jugglers, X-caliber, Radioactive and Coppershot just to name a few.
There was a period when the ‘soundbwoy’ culture was dying but as of recent it is beginning to pick back up. In fact David Rodigan is coming to Trinidad in a few weeks so everyone in the soundsystem circle is pretty hype!
So how did you link up with riddim producer The Phoenix?
I met The Phoenix while I was a songwriter and somewhat of an A&R on a music project for a female artist. We became really good friends and after the project I was so impressed with his quality and professionalism that I had to work with him on my own songs. He’s one of the most versatile music producers I’ve ever met, I think he can pretty much do anything!
Your single Turn it up! is on the Jungle X Riddim, have you heard other version on this riddim? What do you think of them?
Big up to all the other artists on the riddim: Maximus Dan, Alison Hinds, Ms. Alysha, Lloyd D Stiff and Lyrikal. I think all the songs are big tunes! Each song on the riddim caters to different listeners, so there is definitely something on the riddim for everyone!
Do you have a favorite kind of riddim to voice on? Old school, digital, militant?
So what’s happening in the near future for Mark Hardy?
I’m pretty excited about a single I’m going to release soon called Gone on the 2nd Chances riddim, which was actually produced by High Stakes Records, who are based in New Zealand. The riddim also features reggae artists like Sizzla, Capleton, Anthony B and Cocoa Tea just to name a few, so New Zealand you can definitely look out for that big riddim coming soon! Big up to High Stakes Records and J-Rod Records for the opportunity!
I’m also getting ready to release my first music video for the single Lyrical Apology in June/July, while in the studio recording some new material to release later in the year
Thanks for interview Hawk i and big up to you and the Nice Up Crew for promoting Caribbean music in New Zealand, much appreciated! Blessings!