There are a handful of artists whose vision and sound tends to align with our own so well we couldn't have dreamt it up any better. One of those people happens to be Toronto's Mark Penner, known musically as Cyclist, which is why we were so overjoyed to have the chance to go tandem with him for a brand new feature. With a more than impressive track record which includes a winning remix on DFA and more for the likes of Shindu, Anoraak and Rogue Vogue, a handful of highly successful originals, two sizzling monthly's in his home city, and an overall affinity for producing tracks brimming with an infectious funk vibe — it's really no wonder he's got our, and many others, attention.
Over the past week we got together with Mark, between his international wanderings and analog daydreams, to get the details on what's been happening in his world. Catch our interview below full of highlights surrounding his new label with Karl Kling of RAC, some recent mixing of work and play down in Mexico, and the inspirations of funky music. Of course, we couldn't leave you without some jams to enjoy, so Mark has put together a gem-filled mix for us as well, which will surely have you moving and grooving in no time.
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1 • BB&Q — Imagination (DJ Vas Rework) 2 • Memoryman — I'm Ready For You 3 • Cyclist & Maiko — Shine (Anoraak Remix) 4 • Michael The Lion — 909s and Herb 5 • Kalle, Magnus & Daniel — Kryss Mitt Hjerte 6 • Eddie C — O Ye 7 • Soft Rocks — Talking Jungle (Justin Vandervolgen remix) 8 • Cyclist — Meta 9 • Band Of Skulls — Hoochie Coochie (Lindstrom Instrumental) 10 • Justin Faust — Spellbound 11 • James Curd & Luke Million Featuring Nah Man! — Say The Words To You 12 • Dez Andres — Seasons So Long 13 • Seven Davis Jr. — One 14 • Ten Walls — Walking With Elephants 15 • DJ Reverend P — Angels In Africa
Caveman Sound: Thanks for chatting with us Mark, can you tell us a bit about the mix you've put together?
Cyclist: This mix is mostly tunes I’ve been playing out a lot in the last month or 2… some old, some new, some old but new to me.
CS: We know you to be an absolute connoisseur of disco. What started your passion for it, and what do you find interesting about the more ‘modern disco’ style?
C: I’ve always been drawn to funky music… soul, funk and 70’s jazz fusion. I played in band that was basically a disco jazz band but we called it funk because at the time disco was still a bad word. Our goal was always to get people to dance and I saw how effective the feel of live musicians playing dance music is at making people move. That’s what keeps me exploring old school disco… it was the last era where there was a lot of dance music being made with budgets big enough to hire full bands… heck, full orchestras!
What interests me in modern disco is hearing what people are coming up with now that we’ve been through 3 decades of other music. Every producer’s collection of influences is unique and it’s interesting hearing the combinations.
CS: Tell us about your monthly in Toronto, Beam Me Up, which I believe recently had it’s 2-year anniversary. What sort of vibe does it generate?
C: Beam Me Up is insanely fun! I do it with a duo named A Digital Needle who are true disco aficionados. The party forces me to dig deep into disco… one so I can keep up with ADN but also because our crowd expects it. They want to hear new gems unearthed and brought forth on a great sounding system. And they reward us by dancing their asses off!
CS: Okay, let’s talk about your new label MANI / PEDI, which you started with Karl Kling of RAC. How did that get started, and what’s the concept behind it?
C: It’s an open and ever evolving concept haha. We wanted a place to feel free to release anything we make or dig that may not fit other label moulds that well. I’m really interested to see what it evolves into.
CS: You just played a few shows and spent some R&R time down in Mexico. What was your favorite part of the trip musically, and otherwise?
C: I love how passionate Mexicans are about music and it seems that the Nu Disco scene especially is really thriving there. The shows were great… really cool venues and great vibe at each. Can’t really beat playing a tiki bar with the ocean crashing on the beach right behind you.
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CS: You've toured North America extensively, and beyond - favorite place to play?
C: Honestly, Beam Me Up is my favourite party to play… nothing beats the vibe! Favourite city I’ve played is Barcelona… I’d really like to spend some time there.
CS: What's one track you couldn't play a set without?
C: Oh tracks come in and out of my crates… some last longer than others. I recently went back and dug out all my favourites from a few years ago and my next DJ set was 10 times as fun… mixing old favourites with new favourites. It was a lesson to make sure the tracks that really work a dance floor always stay readily available. One such track is Ray Mang - Orchestral Manoeuvres - an example of a perfect disco re-work.
CS: You’ve put out two stellar releases with singer Maiko Watson now. First Shine and more recently Sunrise, clearly you two work well together. Can you speak to that relationship and it’s successes a bit?
C: I met Maiko many years ago when she hired me to engineer and mix her solo album “Sweet Vibration” (check it out, it’s good). We spent a good 2 years slowly working on it and became friends. I’m a really big fan of not only her voice but her songwriting too so a collaboration was a no brainer. We have a chill comfort working together and we plan to kept collaborating. We have more in the works!
CS: Your music is the soundtrack to what city?
C: Probably LA for a good percentage of it.
CS: Lastly, any new releases or the like coming up?
C: I’m just wrapping up a remix for Homebreakin’ Records… a song by Neighbour featuring Piper Davis on vocals. And my first MANI/PEDI 12” is coming out soon. A couple of space disco tunes with remixes by Brioski and Alexander Robotnick. Actually, one of the tunes, “Meta”, is featured in the mix.
An enormous thank you to Mark for joining us for a chat. Now hit play on that excellent mix if you haven't yet, and be sure to get connected with Cyclist via the links below!