Mark Ramos Nishita is a man who likes tacos and enjoys hanging out with Mike D, Ad Rock and MCA. In fact he is often referred to as the fourth Beastie Boy. He is Money Mark. SkinnyFest recently had the opportunity to catch up with Mark as he cruised around the streets of New York.
So is it true that you met The Beastie Boys when you were fixing their garden gate?
""Keep the fairytale alive! I was working as a carpenter in LA, I'd get jobs, get the cash, that's how I met [The Beasties].""
As unassuming as it may sound, this chance meeting turned out to be the real birth of Money Mark. After becoming a part of the infamous 'Grand Royale Posse', playing keyboards on 1992's 'Check Your Head' and 'Ill Communication' two years later, he released a set of three records titled 'Mark's Keyboard Repair' on the Los Angeles based label Love Kit. Fortune would make sure that one of these found it's way onto the desk of James Lavelle, founder of Mo' Wax, who flew straight out to LA and ""kinda twisted my armÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦ I wasn't really looking for a record deal."" MoWax then re-released ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œMarks Keyboard Repair' later that same year. From the low-fi keyboard funk of MKR and a lifelong alliance with producer Mario C, a prolific career soon beckoned.
Perhaps one of the most innovative musicians around today, Mark uses anything and everything to create new sounds and is famed for inventing his own instruments. ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Recently somebody showed me how to make some balloon drums ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ you stretch the balloon over a bowl or something. I have put some guitar pickups in my piano, that sounded pretty cool."" The rationale for this way of thinking is explained easily by his love of jazz; ""I've been listening to some old Miles Davis, rocking out, I like Miles Davis as the rock dude. I like all Miles Davis records, when they're making crazy sounds, really going for it, let loose man, I love that shit!ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
A recent flurry of field recordings to increase his own vault of crazy sounds has turned up some interesting results; ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“I tried to record some, y'know, brake pads on a bus. They make a squeaky noise 'neawwwwahhhh!' I put them on my computer so I can slow them down, speed them up, I have way too much time on my hands."" However, despite this penchant for the recorded sample, Mark's forthcoming album is not going to feature any, except perhaps one. ""When I was in Brazil finishing my record, this guy, holding a machete, was walking down the street sharpening knives, it made a loud noise, I used that sample.""
Although modestly suggesting he's ""a pretty slow guy, I have to say, I put out things very periodically, not regularly,"" when he's not contributing to his own library of outlandish noises, rest assured he is working hard on somebody elses. With a huge list of collaborations under his belt, including Iggy Pop, Handsome Boy Modeling School and Beck, it appears no name is too big. Most recently Mark appeared on the latest Yeah Yeah Yeah's LP and with Yoko Ono in LA last summer, ""She wanted me to play bass guitar and keyboardsÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦that was really great.""
Performing at T on the Fringe for the second year running, following on from last year's triumphant tour with Kid Koala, this year he doesn't have any such surprises planned; ""I think I'm going to be playing solo, just by myselfÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦but I'll have my electronic friends with me."" And though Mark says ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“he'll mostly only be playing instruments,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â this does not necessarily rule anything out and could also include the kitchen sink.