Conversations with an Artist: Marlon Regis - DJ Pelau
We met Marlon almost ten years ago in Los Angeles at a super cool designer collaboration launch event between a fashion brand, its Project Runway designer, and an LA-based electro-synthpop group. We connected over music and good vibes and a friendship was born. As DJ Pelau, Marlon shared music mixes with us, gifting us CD compilations that fuel road trips with his Caribbean heritage, soulful vibes and groovy beats. We've followed his writing and music curation career over the years.
Playing music during COVID helped nurture us through the challenges and we figured we weren't alone. We wanted to celebrate how music brings us the feels and also brings us together. We collaborated with Marlon on a new Mixtape series, DJ Pelau x Poet and/the Bench. Enjoy getting to know more about Marlon and access our music mixes to transport you... The first mixtape is Home / Day.
Describe the moment you realized art (music/writing) fed your soul.
I'm not sure my soul + memory had an actual date connecting. They probably "dated" not even knowing, 'hey, are we on an official date?' LOL! My family has a history of 'artists', creatives + music flowing from before I was born, April 1 – no joke! Mom was an actress in drama/theater circuits; her brother – my uncle, Alexander King, a renowned artist (painter); my older brother, Miles Regis, today an accomplished artist (painter); another uncle Adam/Ken Shurland, RIP, an accomplished drummer in top jazz circles from LA to NY during the Miles Davis, Coltrane, 'Bird' era; cousin Nicholas Brancker was Roberta Flack's musical director, also orchestrator/producer behind soca outfit, Krosfyah, etc. And growing up, by marriage, I always had Boscoe, Geoffrey Holder as part of my family household and surroundings; Trevor Rhone, the Caribbean's most famous/accomplished playwright; and even "steelpan" rebels amongst our blood.
The "arts" was just a part of natural life, artful upbringing I guess. What'd you know, my middle name is (drum roll) ART! But maybe my dad was the greatest influence, together with my brother because music (80% jazz!) played 24/7 in my house by my dad (hence my brother's name, Miles). It's my writing craft that was more a specific point/date in time, which was a special calling from college to today, a development still ongoing. But music was ALWAYS there.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
Life has multiple themes for me. Lots of love, always. Its complexities, the unexplored absolute sensitivity I feel in my bones; the whys to existence; sexual undertones and nuances; the vast diversity of us as humans; (way before BLM), the militancy and stance to ensure fairness; dancing, rhythm themes; and can't ever forget escapism aka fantasy. These themes keep me afloat.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your art?
It's honestly fueled by how I perceive life in a progressive possibility. Envision, pursue and create. All these perceptions, images or concepts mixed in with current, past experiences or futuristic imaginatives. Travel is a big part of that. Listening, absorption. My memory, curiosity and intensity is blessed and unique enough to retain, to extract all positive, negative, pleasurable and painful. The direction follows. For eg, life in America. Do U see what's going on? The ignorance, the racism, the lockdown, the death, despair, the newfound unity, youth awareness, pursuit of justice, a rise in defiance, this definitive shift, yea all that.
How has your craft developed over time?
The music - my ear has gone through such different stages of musical accommodation (& rejection!), it's SO much. The foundation is soul. I don't necessarily mean soul music as in R&B. But that, too, is included. The SOUL of Jazz, R&B, calypso, disco, basslines from steelpan, reggae, pop, the beats of hip-hop, grooves of house, country and this over years, eras, travels n' trends, developed me as a DJ, music curator/programmer, and journalist/blogger to have a path that isn't easy to follow myself.
The writing - the platforms have changed, so I'm in different character depending on the platform. Like a transformative super hero, whether it was my school newspaper back in the day, tons of dif magazines, fast forward to my blog, on social media, a chat group, a Trini chat group (plenty cussin' and "mauvais langue"!), a local publication or international media outlet. Always reinventing myself, always reading, saturating and "listening". Then exporting.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
My mind. Everything else, comes after. Blank paper/canvas/screen, then... Phone, laptop, keyboard and mouse, included. Sounds very cliche, but technology is so vital. Any'ting n' everybody up in dey today haa!
Do you collect anything?
Images in my daily life, in my mind. It doesn't leave. Gift and a curse. Drives me insane at times. I sometimes make out people that I've met once from years ago, from a different city in a different city, 50% of the time I refrain from establishing contact for fear of them calling me crazy LOL! I was told many times - esp by Joy, I should be in the FBI or CIA haa! Well, I collect songs (& sounds), to DJ. That's always a constant. How I go about it, ranges in some bizarre ways to say the least. Never stops. I'm a producer that never officially produced, yet. That's all I'll leave it at.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
My daily prayer. I also look at my daughter's face, videos and pics to just get inspired (sometimes with tears, laughter or deep reflection + curiosity). But simple things inspire me generally. Money, kindness, beauty, you know, simple things. Complex things don't.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic/maker journey?
Plan ahead, envision more and cut down on distractions. Make painful choices, but be a bit more selfish (focused) when it comes to my own goals.
Marlon's words!! They move us. We are so excited to showcase Marlon's music curation talents as a free streaming, non-commercial gift of good vibes– bringing you his soulful grooves, to transport you to moments that allow you to sink in, escape and connect.
Read more about the Mixtape series.
For the love of a good beat,
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey