Meat Katie aka Mark Pember hates flying. LOATHES it. You can hear the venom in his voice as he speaks about it. “I’ve done over 60 flights this year, and I still HATE it. White-knuckle ride for me all the way. It’s the take off and landings I hate the most”. Yet why would he agree to do an album and subsequent tour of Australia, knowing that the only way to get here is to fly? “I don’t know… it was stupid”, he laughs, “I love DJing and stuff, love it when I get there… it’s just the flying!” he says exasperatedly. Pember was out here recently promoting the album “Destination Australia 02”, and we spoke in between sniffles as we both had the flu that seemed to wipe out everybody.
Pember got into the dance music scene in the early 90s. “I used to be in bands,” he says of his beginnings. “I started off in bands, and a friend introduced me to samplers, and the first thing I did was sample drums and bass. This was the early days of bigbeat, and it just sounded more dancey, more clubby than the stuff I did previously.” His first foray into dance production was Ceasefire on Wall Of Sound. Pember says, “I split with my partner, and he decided to continue with wall of sound with the name, and I decided to continue with a new project.” That new project was the darker sound of Meat Katie, and for those who wanted to know, the name comes from a film about sex.
Pember has been at the forefront of breakbeat since it moved from being cheesy Fat Boy Slim style breaks to what we know as ‘new school breaks’. The scene has exploded in recent years, and considering Pember once said, “I’m not convinced that Breaks is going to do what Garage or Trance has done. I think it will be a cult scene, healthy but not mainstream” I wondered if his position had changed. “It’s a difficult one, because when I said that I genuinely meant it”, he muses. “It is particularly big in Australia. There are certain acts that I think may break through to the mainstream, but as a scene it’s going to be rooted in the underground – the same as drum and bass. There may be the odd track or two or the artist that goes overground… hearing some of the new stuff, like Plump DJs and some of the Stanton Warriors stuff, I can see the accessibility more so than I did maybe a year ago. But for me, and my own sound, no, I don’t think I’ll ever break into that market. I’d love to, but it’s not realistic for me.”
The recent Destination release is the second in the series, but not many people heard the first mix, done by H Foundation. “There was a problem in that they had only released the Fabric H Foundation Mix two weeks before, so I think EQ had a few issues in that everyone was mentioning the Fabric CD and not the Destination CD,” Pember explains. “And that’s a real shame those guys at EQ are really good and it’s a bit of a shitty thing to happen. But I jumped at the chance of doing it, and I’m a big fan of playing out here and my records seem to be selling well, and I thought this would be a great way to set the record straight as actually what it is that I’m about. By doing a domestic CD I’m hoping people understand my vibe a little better. It’s breakbeat based, but I like to touch on different styles as well, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do this.”
Pember’s previous works, such as his track ‘the Hum’ with Lee Coombs, are often dark and tribal, but this mix CD is a lot “lighter”, showing that there’s a lot more to Meat Katie than meets the eye. “I guess it’s how people perceive it. I’m not a moody person, ya know!” he laughs. “Sometimes my music can be mood based, which may lead people to think I’m always like that, but my taste is very broad. I like funky music… I’m not a big fan of cheese, but I do like stuff with a bit of a groove.” This mix CD certainly shows this, as it moves from DJ Shadow to Meat Katie to Matrix versus Goldtrix.
Hum is also the title of his successful club, which is coming up to its 2nd birthday in November. “It’s moved to a new venue, a place called the Fortress, and it’s like two story down basement warehouse venue, and we’ve got a license til 6 in the morning, which is quite a late license for the UK. We keep it quite cheap as well…” Pember says of the club. “We do it sporadically now, every 6 to 8 weeks. Thing is, we get other work – good paying work – elsewhere, and we have families and actually have to make a living as well”, he laughs.
His other project is the label Whole 9 Yards, which has recently released the new Elite Force album. “I’m actually taking a bit of time off, as I have another child on the way which is due in January and I need a little home time,” Pember explains. “I spend a lot of my time running the label, and this will be a great opportunity to put it on the backburner for a little while, to concentrate on the things I need to do.” I wondered if Pember thought it was difficult being a father and working in the music industry. “I think it’s hard having a family and doing ANY job, really” he laughs. “You’ve got a lot of responsibility and all that. I wish I was there a bit more on the weekends… I spend the week producing and running the label, and come the weekends I go out and DJ, and try and grab moments being at home, but now I’m really making an effort to make some quality time. It’s difficult because you’ve gotta make money as well, make ends meet”.
Pember missed Adelaide on this tour, but is sure to return to Australia, most likely after his break in January. “Do you know what? I would love to come to Adelaide,” he says. “It’s a real shame I didn’t have an Adelaide date this time –I’ve been here 4 times now and I’ve never been there! I’m going to harass my agent next time I’m down,” he laughs. In the mean time, get a copy of the Destination Australia 02 CD and prepare for a funky ride through some great breakbeat!