The festival season is in full swing both at home and abroad, with The Big Chill (4-7 August) and Sziget (8-15 August) creating the ultimate start to the eighth month. One man who is certainly making the most of his air miles, with an imminent mini tour of Australia, and having recently returned from what Time Out has described as perhaps the summers most beautiful festival, Soundwave Festival (July 21-24, Petrcane, Croatia), is of course Mr Thing.
Not only is he without a doubt amongst my favourite DJs, but he has been given the ultimate compliment amongst his peers by been named as a favourite DJ amongst DJs. I have seen and heard Mr.Thing on the wheels of steel several times, but having returned from Soundwave 2011 myself, with ringside and backstage access, as I stood in the main stage DJ booth watching him spinning on one turntable as Yungun took to the stage, in that moment I really understood for the first time why he is amongst the best in the world.
In fact he has been crowned DMC Team World Champ (1999) alongside the Scratch Perverts, DMC UK Champ (2000) and DMC World 3rd Place (2000) – not bad at all for the boy from Kent who still gets spun out by other major players in the game even knowing his name. This is epitomised by the moment at the famous BBE party with DJ Premier and Marley Marl, which is amongst Mr. Things career highlights, when Premier came up to me and said, are you Mr Thing? I was like are you serious?!? I couldn’t believe it, he knew who I was. That is typical of the man who is one of the most talented, yet humble and who has been described as the nicest guy in music!
I immediately saw what makes him so endearing, as one sunny afternoon we sat swapped tips on the best digging spots, how one prepares for a DJ battle, his many projects including his collaborations with Yungun, and of course the recommendation that sparked my curiosity enough to hop on a plane out to Croatia to see if all the Soundwave hype was justified. All I will say is, DO believe the hype on all counts! And who better to tell us a thing or two about what makes him a frequent headliner from club to festival stage.
It was back in 86 when he first heard Westwood with special guests in session Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (he still has the show somewhere on two Maxell cassettes), which provided the inspiration for him to want to become a DJ. By 87 he was djing in youth clubs and his first paid gig, earning him the grand total of £30, was at his local town hall in Kent in 1989 where as he puts it, someone bizarrely booked him for a hip hop set.
Fast forward a decade or two, he has since played all over the world and either shared decks with or met several of his DJ heroes including Jazzy Jeff twice. It was amazing. I feel really lucky to have met some of them, and the only person that I haven’t met, that a really truly would like to still meet, is Pete Rock he is literally the only one now.
How does this formidable DJ force whose trophy cabinet must be bursting at he hinges remain so grounded and cool? I don’t know. I guess still think that I am just really lucky to be playing, and I am just happy that I am playing and I just love music and want to play it. I have been doing it a long time and I still enjoy it. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it. So the fact that I make other people happy and that other people like it is nice for me, but I am just happy that I am still able to do it and people still want to come [and hear me].
His fans, myself included travel far and wide to hear him spin and he was again a headliner at this years Soundwave festival Croatia with Yungun, who he has been collaborating with for sometime on several projects but how did this collaborative partnership come about? I’ve known Yungun for a very long time and we met through Harry Love. We always talked about doing some music and we did Dancing Shoes together first, then I did a bunch of stuff on the Essance LP, he came to host for me at my gigs, and I’ve been djing for him ever since. Were good friends outside of everything too, so we know each other pretty well.
Other than one turntable acrobatics, Soundwave crowds treated to, Some brand new stuff from Yunguns forthcoming Middle Man LP, as well as some stuff from our upcoming mixtape Jack The World, where we took the idea of doing tunes over other instrumentals a step further and didn’t just limit ourselves to Hip Hop either, we got some Reggae, Broken Beat, Soul / Rare Groove and everything on there.
Their performance rocked the main stage and then some, leaving some time between his four sets throughout the weekend to enjoy his fellow headliners, but who was the DJs favourite DJ looking forward to seeing amongst this year’s line up? There’s a lot of people , Roots Manuva, Kidkanevil always smash it up, Kutmah was really good when I deejayed with him recently Fatima, has done some tunes I really love at the moment – there’s so many!
As somewhat of a fixture on the Soundwave line up, who better to give those hoping to get a piece of the Soundwave 2012 action some key tips than Mr Thing. Make sure you’ve got the right money [which is of course is Croatian Kuna]… I foolishly thought it was Euros and spent a lot of my time with either no drinks or queuing up to change money, Im still not sure what the right currency is, [Again, that would be Croatian Kuna] and bring a hat, it gets HOT there!
As such an influential name on the scene amongst his peers as well as fans, what advise would he give to anyone coming up that might look at him and think just as he did back in 86, that is what I want to do? “The most important thing that I would say is, it is not a race and it is not a quick thing to get noticed. I got it together at my own pace and was never in a hurry to get gigs in London, it just happened naturally and I was quite glad it did because I had already built up a good reputation round in Kent and people started to know me during the early into the 90s.
Get your music together, get your collection together and spend time practising. I still practise as much as I can. If I have show or a radio show, I still put two or three hours practise in, to keep myself sharp.
Having been what they call in the business a DJ widow for virtually all of my twenties, it is fair to say that I have a certain ear and can discern when someone has mad skills on the wheels of steel, and without a doubt, Marc Mr.Thing Bowles is definitely the Real Deal. Having been fortunate enough to get up close and personal with so many artists and DJs in my career so far, I absolutely agree that he is one of the nicest guys in the music game.
Catch Mr.Thing on “Thing Thursdays” his weekly mixshow on: http://www.ustream.com/thefunhouse, Thursday nights from 9-12AM GMT with DJ MK, Harry Love and Inka Hero.
By: Thuto Mali
Random Mr.Thing Facts: Did You Know
- The name Mr Thing is inspired by Thing (the hand) from the Adams Family, because like his name sake, he does everything. It also comes from the Fantastic Four and his love of Mr Sinister from the X Men during the mid 90s.
- Mr Thing composed the music for the Mars Planets ad campaign.
- He was an original founding member of Scratch Perverts, alongside 1st Rate, Tony Vegas, DJ Renegade, Harry Love, Plus1 & Killa Kela.
- Marc is also a member of the Extended Players alongside – DJ Shortee Blitz, Harry Love, DJ MK and Inka Hero.