Money Mark is Mark Ramos Nishita, a keyboardist whose funky vintage riffs earned him the unofficial title of the fourth Beastie Boy. While working as a handyman, Nishita accepted a job repairing the Beastie Boys' Silverlake, California home; soon, he became a pivotal member of the group's Grand Royal Posse, and performed on both 1992's Check Your Head and 1994's Ill Communication.
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Recorded at his home studio, Money Mark's solo debut Mark's Keyboard Repair -- a loose, addictive collection of funky organ bits performed on vintage equipment -- appeared in 1995 as a set of three ten-inch records issued on the Los Angeles-based label Love Kit. Although the small pressing sold out almost instantly, the first record in the series found its way to Britain and the offices of Mo'Wax founder James Lavelle, who flew to L.A. to meet with Nishita; a deal was made, and Mark's Keyboard Repair was re-released in late 1995.
Money Mark -- the man and the myth who single or rather double handedly transformed Beastie Boys from one hit wonders and one miss blunders into transcendent musicians with his textured keyboards and heavy yet light songscapes on their comeback LPs Check Your Head and The In Sound From Way Out (not to mention all of their other recent LPs and tours) -- has returned with a brand new collection of 12 startling instrumentals which run the gamut from his trade mark jazzy funk to traditional Hispanic...and of course everything in between. Yes, Money Mark, the stealthy hired gun of alt rock, whose unique touch has sneaked into a host of well known numbers such as Beck's "Where It's At," the former Lakers ball boy who prefers sneakers with not three but four stripes and the avant-garde but accessible artist who already has two quirky but hardly gimmicky solo successes under his belt, is back. Back in the house. Back in the mix. Back in the saddle. And back in the news.
There's an animated cartoon that Fox has picked up called Da Mob. I did the main theme, the title cut, and the ending theme. Fox liked it, but they thought it needed another element, so I suggested some old school rapper. I suggested, actually, Kool Moe Dee. So, I did like a little duet with Kool Moe Dee about a month ago.
OH MAN. I WONDER WHAT GRADE HE GAVE YOU.
He gave me high marks. He did. It was funny. He was funny. He's a gentleman. And he's got 50 character voices that he does.
ANYWAY, WHAT ELSE HAPPENED RECENTLY?
Besides finishing the instrumental record, I returned from Paris after being there for two weeks with Femi Kuti and playing keyboards on his new record. This is in April of 2001. And there was an exchange happening. Essentially, I mean, I would have paid my own way to do that gig. That was an amazing experience. I mean, I'll never forget doing that.
DID YOU PLAY LIVE WITH HIM?
No, I didn't have a chance, because I was out of town when he was here. But I imagine it'll happen, probably. I hope so. And then the release of the Blow movie was in March.
AND IS YOUR STUFF ON THE SOUNDTRACK?
No, it's not on the soundtrack; it's in the movie. It's fully credited, though... Um, before that, there was the Deltron 3030 record which I did some work on and the Handsome Boy Modeling School record, I don't know if you've heard of that.
OH, THAT'S WITH THE AUTOMATOR AND PRINCE PAUL?
Automator, yeah, yeah, there's a track called "Sunshine" I did with them on that one. Before that Handsome Boy thing, I did a track for Santana's Supernatural record.
OH, I DIDN'T KNOW YOU WERE ON THAT!
I wrote a song with Eagle Eye Cherry. I didn't choreograph the whole meeting of the minds for the song -- it started as a demo that the Dust Brothers and I created. And then, uh, Arista -- who knows? Maybe it was Clive himself -- just thought Eagle Eye would be a good vocalist. I think Don Cherry and Carlos were like friends.
THAT'S COOL MAN. SHORT OF WORKING WITH EL CHICANO, THAT KIND OF BRINGS IT ALL BACK HOME.
Yeah, I got my first um, well, I don't have it. Not that it's even significant from my point of view. But for my mom? My mom has the diamond plaque! The diamond plaque is like after you pass 20 million copies sold. I've never been on a record that passed 20 million copies....
OK, SO THAT'S WHEN YOU SOLD OUT. GOOD.
Anyway, I said yes to iMac computers. Which I use -- those computers --so, um...
Yeah, it is pretty interesting. What happened was, um, who is the guy?
Yeah, Steve Jobs was introducing a new line, the titanium PowerBook and the new iMacs in Tokyo, and as he walked onto the stage, he or somebody -- I think it was him -- decided to use the song "Push The Button" as he came out. His speech and the whole event was streamed live on the internet. So in that case, he was using one of my songs, essentially without asking me. So we worked out this deal, and now he wants to use the song for six months to sell iMac computers.
ARE THEY SHOWING HERE?
Yeah, like I was in a hotel recently with my kids and they were watching Discovery Channel, and the commercial came on. It was cool. I guess it was going so well that they decided to renew it for another six months. Yeah, um, now we're in '98. I put Push The Button out in '98. And toured in '98. Did the arena stuff. I opened up for the Beasties in Madison Square Garden -- that was a blast. And then, we all played "Benny and The Jets." And Biz did the vocal. I'm probably the only other person to play "Benny and The Jets" besides Elton John. In Madison Square Garden. On a Casio keyboard, too!
DID YOU TAKE PIANO LESSONS OR SOMETHING?
I tried to take piano lessons, and then I just figured out the song "Benny and the Jets" -- that's why I thought, "Wow, now I'm playing it in Madison Square Garden." But I learned how to play that song on a piano in the rec room of my high school. Like during lunchtime.
YOU'VE APPEARED ON A LOT OF STUFF THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT BE AWARE OF...
That's right. You wouldn't know. Well, it's like I play keyboards on the "Where It's At" song on Beck's record. Beck also played keyboards, but I do play the organ on the thing. And like the "So Whatcha Want" organ thing -- that was the biggest thing that I really never got credit for. There's a bunch of other stuff as well including tracks for Iggy Pop, a track with Trick Daddy on the South Park soundtrack etc.
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