Pleasures has always paid massive amounts of respect to music as it’s one of the main inspirations that led to the foundation of the brand. Having already previously collaborated with the likes of Outkast or creating capsules to honor the legacy of New York rapper Big L, Pleasures once again tapped into the past. Paying homage to some of the frontrunners of vinyl mixing, trip hop, turntablism and alternative hip hop, Pleasures teamed up with Mo’ Wax Records and UNKLE for a capsule collection.
Founded by James Lavelle, Mo’ Wax was the musical embodiment of street culture as they collaborated with street artists across all disciplines as they pushed their sound. From OG graffiti artist Futura doing cover art for their records to working with Mark “Gonz” Gonzales, who is known as the godfather of modern street skateboarding, on branded toys, the label was deeply rooted to the streets.
Featured in this lookbook our friend and longtime collaborator of OTH, Malick Touré. As Co-Founder of Ausgang Plaza, a non-for-profit organization that aims to promote and encourage local creatives with a multidisciplinary venue equipped to handle, well, pretty much anything. Concerts, gallery showings, pop-up venue, you name it. As a DJ that’s been mixing for 20+ years, and at the head of one of the biggest hubs in Montreal for up-and-coming music, one could even go as far as to say that Malick is somewhat of music historian with strong roots in vinyl mixing, turntablism and hip hop.
Read on for an exclusive interview with Malick where we discuss his early beginnings as a DJ and the impact that James Lavelle, Mo’Wax and UNKLE had on both himself, and vinyl culture as well.
OTH: You’ve been mixing for around 20 years now, how did you get into mixing vinyls and when was your first encounter with a Mo’ Wax record or James Lavelle?
M: So I started mixing probably 20 years ago in clubs and stuff like that because my dad used to have a club in the ‘80s and ‘90s and I always hung out there when it was closed obviously haha. We used to listen to some vinyls there and we had some at our house, so I slowly started collecting them. I played them a little bit, but wasn’t DJing with them, I would just try stuff. At the time when I started DJing people were mixing with vinyls so it was easier.
OTH: When you first started mixing on vinyl did you have a specific style that you focused more on? Because now over time your style has obviously changed and evolved.
M: Yeah you had to focus on specific things because you can’t buy everything. It takes a long time to have a collection, so I was more focused on hip hop, dance hall and a little bit of R&B, but I was more like a backpack hip hop DJ. I loved Ninja Tune and Mo’ Wax, I mean DJ Shadow was a legend back then so that’s how I got into him and Mo’ Wax. But I mean with time I always wanted to put different styles but you know you buy one record at a time, but to be able to build a set it takes so much time!
OTH: For sure, a lot of time and money. When your father opened this club and you started building your collection was that because he was also a DJ?
M: No, my dad was an entrepreneur. He had a bar in the early 80s, but what happened was back in the days clubs had to have vinyls and to have a big collection it takes time and all that. So all the new top 40 hits and classics, there were just crates at the clubs for DJs to come and use, but they were owned by the clubs. So DJs came with their own vinyls, but the clubs had some too that they’d supply you but they were obviously owned by the clubs. It helped accommodate the DJs’ sets.
OTH: Back then was it kind of a flex if you showed up and you had that one record in your crate?
M: Oh yeah. Back then, a lot of DJs would cover their vinyls so people wouldn’t know what it was. It was a lot more exclusive back then. Even in the Jamaican music culture, you have all the dubplates and stuff, so you had vinyls made for you and had versions of songs that were shouting out your crew or whatever. So let’s say you had “Who Am I” by Beenie Man but it’s a dub version calling out your name and giving you props, like nobody has that but you. So the more you had an exclusive collection, you more you were considered to be a sick DJ.
OTH: I had no idea it was like that back then. Obviously the main reason why we wanted to interview you, especially with your collection of vinyls, is because you know a big part of the history of vinyl mixing and that’s exactly what this collection is all about. Could you give us a little bit more insight for someone who hasn’t heard of UNKLE Records or Mo’ Wax records, why are they so important to the culture of vinyl history.
M: For me it’s always about the people who were in the background of that. DJ Shadow and Ninja Tunes started the Trip Hop movement in the UK and that was so big at that time. It changed and developed a whole different style. It expanded the spectrum of what you were listening to. It made a new current of a new electronic hip hop vibe. If you listen to "Endtroducing.....", it’s all about turntablism. It’s an instrumental with a background vibe. You can compare it to the new Lo-Fi scene, it’s the predecessor of that. And for me, why UNKLE was big was because Futura was in the background of that and he was this OG, huge graffiti legend from back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It was just these super experimental labels that made nerdy music that was still digestible for people. At that time it was really popular for music nerds like me haha.
OTH: So do you think that Mo’ Wax Records has that level of influence to where people were really out hunting for that specific record?
M: Oh yeah for sure. They have classics. You would always be hunting for those depending on your style. I used to look up to all those turntablist DJs, and Shadow was one of them. He did like movie soundtracks and shit, tons of different work and his work ethic and style is very collage oriented and that’s so hip hop.
OTH: Do you remember the first time you heard a Mo’ Wax track?
M: Honestly I don’t remember the first time but I remember the era. It was like wow man. We used to listen to radio shows and shit like that and they used to play Mo’ Wax. Montreal also had Kid Koala as well and he was signed to Ninja Tune. He’s still crazy. But it was all that… the DJ scratch scene that had all the experimental sounds coming out. We’d try to see how using turntables as an instrument was possible.
OTH: So you started off with your fathers vinyls, eventually found the UNKLE and Mo’ Wax records and all that, then years later you started to develop your own style and would ultimately move from vinyl to digital which then led to Ausgang Plaza. So I wanna shift to you now.
M: So when I started mixing, I went from all those genres and then Serato came and it made me able to mix whatever I wanted, so I could mix club shit and all that. It just opened doors for all DJs, it changed the game. That and Traktor. So what was the question haha?
OTH: So basically how did you transition from your vinyl DJing career all the way to Ausgang?
M: So I used to do a lot of events like organized shows and parties as well as mixing, so with time I made some contacts and had some friends who opened a shop and wanted me to be a part of this project. So I got invested in working hardcore, doing voluntary work just to get ownership in Ausgang. I had a bit of experience in venues too, I had worked as a bartender and stuff so that’s pretty much how I got involved here. I was really lucky. I volunteered for like 2 years, it was kind of the deal… work and get part of it.
OTH: How would you say Ausgang has evolved since when it first started in 2015?
M: It really changed. We had a shift because in the beginning it was more contemporary art, parties and stuff, but it changed because we needed to have a better direction and we wanted to cater to the music, art and dance communities a bit more. All the cultural communities. We wanted to be more inclusive and diverse, so we changed a lot. It took time for us to be able to be self-sustainable.
OTH: What’s next for Ausgang and what’s not next for you?
M: Right now we're still doing creative projects and stuff. We have some plans to develop plans outside of the venue but right now we're unsure of everything because it's hard to see what the future holds. For now we have to almost auto-pilot to see how it stabilizes because it’s very fragile right now. There’s more events but less people going out, so we’ve gotta watch out. And myself I’m trying to get a new night to DJ, I’ve been doing gigs here and there but if things were out we’ll see if I get a night.
OTH: How does it work? Do local artists reach out to you to book you guys or do you actively go out and find talents and tell them to come to Ausgang?
M: We do both. I check what’s going on in the scene and I have my colleague who does all the bookings. We get a lot of emails coming in and she manages them and I just check the scene and find people to ask if they want to collaborate, more in a development stage. There’s a lot of collectives that are worth giving the attention that work well and have good work ethics, so we’re trying to bring that back here.