#GEORGESUNDAYS with Neck of the Woods : A chat with MC SLAVE

Mark ‘MC Slave’ Williams is the man behind George Sundays LoggCabin Radio. Mark is one of New Zealand’s leading DJs, MCs, actors, voice artists and video directors. Known for being the MC for Fat Freddy’s Drop, he also directed many music videos for not only Freddy’s, but Tiki Tane, Ladi6 and Bulletproof. For a man who has his fingers in many pies and widespread success, we caught up with Mark to ask him about how he manages it all, how it all came together and some of the highlights of his career.

Photo by Steve Dykes

Photo by Steve Dykes

Many young NZ creatives these days are juggling multiple roles and pursuing more that one career path at once. You have been doing this for a long time, what would be your advice to them?

Keep on keeping on! Try and do what you love! The world is full of people who give up dreams or plans after the first hurdle. You’ll always take the knocks but to have longevity you have to pick yourself up and keep going. There is definitely something to be said for focusing on one path and doing one thing real well but having multiples roles keeps things interesting and most of all keeps you employed and busy.

What is the best advice you have been given?

If you’re having issues or problems, that is because you are too worried, the question you ask yourself is “What are you doing to do / or can you do about it?” - Nicole, Fat Freddy’s Manager…If the answer is nothing or you can’t ... don’t worry about it ... don’t sweat it! ...don’t let your enemies have free rent in your headspace (can’t remember where it is from but I like it!)

In the 80’s you were part of rap duo MCOJ and Rhythm Slave. What was the rap scene like back then?

Well I’m not sure it was a scene, now there is a scene but when we were playing and touring which we did a lot, in fact more than most, it was all so young. People were seeing MCs and DJs for the very first time. Now people take it for granted. I feel like we introduced the concept to many people around NZ, particularly in smaller towns. People couldn’t fathom an MC and a DJ on stage. They were like “Where are the guitars?”. By the mid 90’s we had a scene, but it took more than a minute.

Above:  MC OJ and Rhythm Slave 1990

Looking at the local rap scene today, who do you rate?

So many! The YGB Family is a great collective that to me seems to inspire and motivate each other regularly and they are supportive of each other's projects and evolutions.

When did you move from music to video and film work? 

That was a happy accident. I was always into film and acting but Mo Show was the start of it of course. Armed with Mini DV cameras we travelled the world and managed to talk our way into some pretty amazing and outrageous places. We won best TV entertainment series in 2002 for Mo Show.

In the early 2000’s you co-directed the MO Show, which lead you to travel worldwide to interviewing musicians and exploring with Otis Frizzell. What were some of the highlights of working on the show?

So many but the highlights were our trips to NYC, our trip to Jamaica where we met many of our reggae superheroes. Meeting Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry on the set of a Bond film. She gave me the glad eye and I’m standing by it.

If you were to relaunch and film the series again, who would be the top of your list to visit/feature?

I’d like to return to a few of the spots we visited on the early series to see what’s changed and cross-reference it. But Mexico, South America, China and India would be places I’d like to explore for something brand new.

You have directed a huge amount of the biggest local music videos. What was your first music video you ever directed?

Wandering Eye for Fat Freddy’s Drop. We had the best crew and team working on it. It was Freddy’s first proper video too. As it was my first music video, I put everything I had into it, worked on it for months, and we pulled every resource and favour I could because I knew there were plenty of more established directors who would have liked to have done it ... I couldn’t fuck it up! We won Best Music Video at the Music Awards 2006.

Above: Mark's first music video, Wandering Eye for Fat Freddy's Drop

You are the MC and Videographer for Fat Freddy’s Drop - How did this opportunity originally come about?

That followed on from Mo Show and the music video. I was asked to help on a doc about the Freddy’s for Maori TV in Europe, and then the bros asked me to bust a rap when I was in the wings. They were and still are my favourite band. Much to my enjoyment, I’ve been there ever since. 

How do you find working for other musicians in the video department? Being A musician yourself...

Well ... I like people to be comfortable but still challenge them a little. Some artists aren’t suited to playing a role or effectively ‘acting’. Others embrace it. It's about understanding the artist and what they want to express and feel comfortable with.

Asides from Logg Cabin Radio on George Sundays, what do you like to get up to on Sunday?

To be honest, hanging with the boys up at the radio on Sundays is one of my favourite things to do. Listening to the tunes and being turned on to new music on Sundays at George is super fun, and if I’m not there, these days I’ll be enjoying summer (barbie, swimming, beach) with the family while still listening to the radio all day!