Soundtrack To My Life: Murkage Dave

From Stevie Wonder and MJ to Richie Dan and C Biz, this is the soundtrack Murkage Dave's life.

murkage dave

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murkage dave

Born and raised in East London's Leytonstone, DJ/promoter-turned-singer Murkage Dave has been a student of the game from his early days of listening to Deja Vu and Rinse FM. His love of garage transitioned into him DJing during his teens and then turning this passion into a career, when he began putting on parties in Manchester during his time at university.

From running club events, Dave then leveled up and formed a collective, Murkage Cartel, with the likes of Madam X coming through the ranks and going on to do big things in the industry. However, the creative soon felt the need to return back to his hometown in order to take things back to the roots. In London, Dave rapidly got back in the thick of things and he eventually landed a residency at the infamous—and now closed—East London venue, Visions. The heat Dave garnered from DJing at the place to be put him on the radar of Mike Skinner of The Streets, and the two soon linked up for their night, TONGA, promoting events across the world with their collective wealth of music knowledge. But throughout his time of promoting and DJing club events, Dave always felt that creating his own music was his true calling and, recently, he made this a reality with the release of his debut solo LP, Murkage Dave Changed My Life.

Complex caught up with the Manchester scene legend shortly after his headline show at The Sebright Arms to get the soundtrack to his life, which ranges from DJ selections to inspirations for inside the booth.


Michael Jackson — "Dangerous"

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As a young boy, what was the first track you heard that resonated with you?

The first cassette I remember having, was one that my friend borrowed to me. It was Jungle Mania 2, a compilation from back in the day. It was a double cassette and it had this green cover. We also had Michael Jackson's Dangerous album on repeat—my dad always used to play that CD in the car and now, whenever I feel a bit anxious, I just put that project on. The title track is amazing.

Masterstepz f/ Richie Dan — "R U Ready"

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Your song "Magic Mission Deja Rinse" is really smartly flipped, so out of those stations, which one was your favourite and what song was on replay during that period?

They were the four that I could consistently get. I would just flick through the stations and whichever one I landed on, would be the one I remained with. At that point, I was looking for 2-step, but a lot of the stations were playing house and garage—which I did like, but that was more 4/4. It was the channel that had the 2-step that I would stay on and tape.

There were so many tunes I was feeling at that time, but the guy who I was really into was Richie Dan; he did like a yard stylee over 2-step garage, and I remember he was the first artist that I met in real life. It was at a community centre in Hackney, where I used to attend music workshops, and I remember meeting Richie Dan there and him having a cockney accent—which totally threw me off, as I had assumed he would have a yardie accent. The one that he did with Masterstepz was my absolute tune!

Roni Size, Reprazent — "Brown Paper Bag"

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The natural progression from being a big fan of music, is playing it yourselfso when you started to DJ, what was the first vinyl you had and couldn't get enough of?

I had a mate that lived in Loughton—we just used to sit in his garage drinking Bacardi Breezers [laughs]—and I remember playing Roni Size's "Brown Paper Bag" over and over. That was the first vinyl that I properly took in.

C Biz — "The Game's Mine"

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With DJing, the main purpose of spinning tracks is to get the crowd hype. What's that one track you used to play that got the crowd buzzing?

"The Game's Mine" by C Biz was killing it during my time DJing at Visions. The first time I played the track in the rave, it went off!

Murkage Dave — "Keep Up The Bad Work"

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As we navigate through manhood, we all make mistakes—a lot of them, too—so if you could go back to your younger self, what track would you show yourself as a word of advice?

"Keep Up The Bad Work", off the album, was definitely made for that reason. The concept of the record is that I bump into my younger self and give myself advice: what I'm saying on it is that, even though we make a lot of mistakes as youth, it doesn't matter because that's how you learn and eventually get to a place where you no longer make those same mistakes.

"Niggas Need Each Other"what was the inspiration behind the track?

It started off from my group chat with my boys and, one day, my brother just put "niggas need each other" in the group and the phrase really resonated with me. Then everyone was like that's got to be a thing, so it inspired me to make the track.

House Of Pharaohs — "RWM (Run With Me)"

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I like how you mix the older generation with Manga and the new generation with the Sam Wise ad-libs. What was the track that put Sam Wise on your radar?

I saw House of Pharaohs at a cook-out that SBTV did a couple years ago and, from there, we had interactions over the years. Then when my single "You Always Ring Me When I'm Busy" came out, Sam Wise posted it and showed support. Then shortly after that, I brought him into the studio to work on a tape I was doing with Mike Skinner. What struck me about his artistry, was the attention he was paying to the ad-libs, was the same amount that he was giving to his actual verses. Then when I had "Niggas Need Each Other' with Manga's verse on it, I wanted to give it that extra sauce, and Sam's name just kept coming up in my mind. So I brought him in and all the stuff he said on the record topped of the track nicely.

Buju Banton — "Not An Easy Road"

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DJing must help you find out about a lot of the up-and-coming talent in the UK. A big faux pas in the business is people coming up to you with requests, but in what situation would you have no problem with a fan requesting a track from you?

To be fair, requests are always a good gauge to see what the people are feeling in the club. I just don't like it when people get forceful with it, or if they're asking for it when it's not the right time to drop the song. But if it's a tune that I think would blend in well with the track that I'm playing, I'll just put that on next.

When you're going through it in your personal life, what records are you putting on?

Jill Scott's Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. A lot of the times, it's just a record that sounds familiar to bring me back to foundations. Jagged Edge's J.E. Heartbreak or Donell Jones' Where I Want To Be will also get me back in my zone, or sometimes I'll put on Buju Banton's "Not An Easy Road"—that song has some powers!

Chris Rice — "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"

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Listening to the album, I get a really spiritual vibe. Did you grow up in a religious household and, if so, do you have a gospel song that fires up the soul?

My mum and dad are Methodist, which is a very theological sect of Christianity. My dad has a shelf of books that break down the different verses of the bible; it was like the Christian version of Rap Genius [laughs]. When I was growing up, I didn't like the control aspect of it—it's one of the reasons I originally left London, as I felt very stifled—but I took a lot of lessons from the Bible which I still use till this day. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" is a hymn that I really loved growing up.

Stevie Wonder — "Too High"

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With the album closer and title track, it really gives me goosebumps. In it, you talk about changing the lives of many, but what song would you say changed your life?

"Car Bomb". That's the song that set off the whole album process. The track was inspired by the '70s era of Stevie Wonder. He was one of the only artists on Motown, other than Marvin Gaye, who wrote his own songs. Innervisions was the album that I listened to the most from him.

Stream 'Murkage Dave Saved My Life' in full below.

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