The term "party-rocking" has taken quite a beating in recent years, after artists like LMFAO turned it into something downright terrifying. But prior to its corruption, "party-rocking" meant a DJ mixing genres, like moving from hip-hop to disco to house with the only goal to ensure that everyone has a good time. Making a name for themselves as traditional party rockers, Canadian crew The Freshest, comprised of Seko, Kutcorners, Rico Uno and Marvel, gained notoriety with frequent airplay on Vancouver's No. 1 radio station, The Beat 94.5, and by playing acclaimed parties such as The Rub. This year, they created the series The Freshest Live Sets, which explores the use of new technology like Akai MPDs and Korg R3s to create and blend raw rap and R&B sounds.
Member DJ Marvel, who began his DJ career in high school, and is known for his knowledge of hip-hop, recently relocated from Vancouver to NYC. He has done guest remixes for Mick Boogie and Terry Urban's Press Play Show, and will soon tour the U.S. and Canada with member Kutcorners for The Freshest Live Sets series. We recently caught up with Marvel about hip-hop radio, his favorite part of being in the crew, and his previous career on a cruise ship. He plays Nineteen-90 NOW! Friday at 330 Ritch with local DJ King Most.
How have you seen hip-hop radio in Vancouver evolve since you starting DJing in '98?
Back in '98, all of the music that got me excited came through a handful of college radio shows. Since then we had a mainstream hip-hop station, which started great but later changed their format. After that, things reverted back to college radio shows like Crimes & Treasons, who just celebrated their 10-year anniversary.
We heard you used to work on a cruise ship. How did that evolve into becoming a full-time DJ?
You heard right, back in the early 2000s I DJ'd for Royal Caribbean. Before that I had been doing house parties and small club gigs. The cruises allowed me to play for hundreds of drunken vacationers, and taught me a lot about reading the crowd and playing the right records at the right time. Traveling the world was great and inspired me to persue DJing more seriously, and it has grown into a career.
What prompted your recent move from Vancouver to New York City?
This summer my girlfriend got an offer to relocate to New York. Together we decided it would be a great career move for both of us. Musically it's been incredibly inspiring, and I have grown a lot in the short time I have been there. Growing up on Nas, Mobb Deep, and Wu-Tang -- what kid didn't want to live in New York? In a way I am living out a dream.
How often do you see members of The Freshest now?
In person, I see Seko and Rico Uno quite regularly when I travel back to Vancouver. I see Kutcorners a little less, as he is now based in New Zealand, working for Serato. We all stay connected and work on tracks and mixes over the Internet, which is cool. The four of us will be reuniting Nov. 24 in Brooklyn when we play The Rub.
What's the most satisfying aspect of being in the crew?
I would say the most satisfying aspect of being in The Freshest is that we have built up our brand so that people know they will be getting quality product, whether it's mixes, party sets, or production.
What's the coolest thing you guys have done together?
Last New Year's Eve we played a heartwarming outdoor event for the city of Vancouver that was catered towards children. There were thousands of kids on all sides of us, with an ice rink behind the DJ booth and a full dance party in front.
Which superhero group does your crew identify with the most?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because we don't take ourselves too seriously but can get the job done.
Next: DJ Marvel shares a jam we can expect to hear this Friday.