Behind the Sound: Mark Little
Meet the 25-year-old DJ, Musician, and Producer - Widely Considered to be One of the Most Diverse Figures in the Southeastern Connecticut Music Scene.
By Bridney C.
Describing himself as a “sonic storyteller,” music producer and DJ Mark Little has his distinctive sound that is worth mentioning on the Sweet Scoop blog. Staying true to his preferred genre of sampling and working with old school hip-hop and low-fi beats, he has had the privilege to work alongside artists such as Twayne The Kidd, Demery, and Cancerspice.
Mark believes strongly in self-expression, describing it as an outlet that could not be easily duplicated or re-created by other artists. His creation of long-lasting art and his commitment to helping others achieve creative fulfillment is what makes this music producer-DJ dynamic a force to be reckoned with.
The 25-year-old is currently working on two projects, one short beat tape that will be released early spring and a solo project that has been in the pre-production stage for two and a half years. Both projects will feature independent artists, with production handled by Mark.
"I try to work with other artists and gravitate towards artists who challenge themselves. Plus, I go for artists that make the similar music I like to do so it makes the process easier," says Mark.
Residing in Mystic, Connecticut, Mark has lived in the nutmeg state for about 15 years and grew up as a "Navy Kid." He also lived in Georgia, Florida, Washington State, and Italy, although he considers Connecticut his home.
"I made the most friends here, lived here the longest, and grew up from elementary to college at this point in my life," says Mark. He has always been heavily involved in the arts, including playing the trumpet as a child and being mentored by his older sibling, who used to play music for him that would further develop his musical taste.
Mark also considers skateboarding to be a big part of his life, and some of the music he enjoys today came from watching skate videos. As a child, he also loved listening to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtracks.
In the 7th grade, he realized he wanted to make music when he first started listening to rap. He discovered his favorite artists, whose music he describes as being "mind-blowing" such as J Dilla, Madlib, MF DOOM, to name a few. Mark says Madlib is his biggest inspiration and loves how he collaborates with other artists such as MF DOOM, Freddie Gibbs, and Lootpack.
"I had no idea there was a side of hip-hop that was beloved like that, let alone make music like that. Like this is allowed? They don't have to follow the 'rules?' There are others that are super inspiring to me, but when I discovered those three, that made me want to take music seriously."
He is a self-taught music producer who first started experimenting with beats at the age of 13. After learning how to use the DAW connected to his beat machine, he watched YouTube videos and enlisted help from his friends, who helped him create his earliest beats.
His instrumental album "FIENDS" was released ten months ago on March 27th, 2020, during the quarantine that Mark says was taking a toll on him. He decided to release his album as a way for listeners to hear something refreshingly positive and enjoy something different. He created his beats for the project on an Akai MPK Mini.
He worked on "FIENDS" for a year and a half, starting in early 2018 and commencing in late 2019. He divided his time working on the album while attending college and preferred to work on it late at night after finishing his homework. Some of the beats that appeared on "FIENDS" were tracks that did not make the final cut for his two previous albums.
The cover art, designed by Mark, pays homage to hip-hop rapper Earl Sweatshirt's "Doris" album cover. He took the photo with a self-timer and did the editing in Photoshop and Illustrator.
Aiming to create a simple album cover, Mark says he also wanted to put together something eye-catching. He designed all of his previous album covers. He also edits his videos that coincide with his beats.
"For me, what was most rewarding part was that I was finally starting to make the music I wanted to. The progression of my beats from DOUGIEWORLD to Alternative Black Boy was a pretty dramatic, big difference sound-wise. Alternative Black Boy was the first time I felt like I was focusing on a specific sound than just mixing everything. So I applied that mindset with FIENDS."
One of his songs in particular, "Sick Sad Honey" featuring close friend and Boston-based singer, Cancerspice, appeared on his first LP, 2018's "DOUGIEWORLD." He became inspired by singer-songwriter SZA and studied the production on her debut album, Ctrl.
After being "blown away" by her album, he spent a few weeks creating a beat that had a similar sound. He carefully added on new beats over time instead of completing it in one sitting. After finishing it, he contacted Cancerspice.
After a month of working on the song together, "Sick Sad Honey" was completed, leaving Mark "truly blown away" by her vocals. He wanted the main focus of his album to be about diversity by collaborating with other artists. By including at least one R&B song on the album, he says it made the project whole.
"Making music helps my mental a lot. I do not do it to be the cool guy or chase clout. I do it because it is therapeutic and fun for me and if people mess with it, man, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The fact that y'all take time to listen to my music means a lot to me," says Mark.
To hear and see more from Mark Little, be sure to follow him on Instagram @mrklittle