Interview with DJ: Mark Zimmer
-Where you a dj , if yes when did you started as a DJ:
I was a Disco DJ beginning in the early 70's. I started in a band as a sound tech in late 1972, and later became a DJ in between the bands break, in clubs around New York City.
The local band played a gig for a month at a club, and I stayed at that club to become the house DJ in the beginning of 1974.
-Were did you buy your records, and were you member of a DJ record pool ?:
I went to the record companies in New York and asked for Disco promo's to play in my club. It was almost a full time job seeking records and working at night. I went to Rock 'n Soul records, Melody Records, Downstairs Records (down in the subway) a local shop in my hood (Gabby's) and almost any shop that had records...basically in Black neighborhoods.
When the "NY Record Pool" opened inside the infamous "Loft" (99 Prince St.) in SOHO, I was one of the first members.
I became friends with Walter Gibbons at the record shop he worked (Rock'n' Soul in Downtown Brooklyn) and he supplied me with all the hot cuts at the time.
He was looking for someone to fill in for him on a Thursday night, and I became his top choice. It was called the Outside Inn, in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY.
After a few months, I quit. It was too far to travel to.
-In Which Disco’s did you DJ:
I was the house DJ at several clubs in the suburbs of NYC.
Some of the following listed:
-Inner Motions, S.I., N.Y. 1974
-Dr. Feelfunny's Brooklyn, N.Y.
-Outside Inn Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y. also 1974
-Galaxy S.I., N.Y. 1975
-Vegas Disco S.I.N.Y. 1976
-Cathedrals S.I.N.Y. 1977
-Maximus Bklyn, N.Y. 1978
-Tuts Disco S.I.N.Y 1979
-Paramount Disco S.I.N.Y 1980
-Gazebo, Bklyn, N.Y. 1981-1984
-Pastels Nightclub 1984- late 1988
-Did you had a special DJ name ?:
I kept my real name (MARK DJ ZIMMER) which was a very big mistake. I was told in early 1974 to make it more exotic.
It should have been "Marko Remmiz DJ" (Zimmer---backwards) to make it sound more "Latino" like Junior Vazquez did.
-How did you find out about the existance of the disco acetates:
When I first saw my acetates "Cut" right in front of my eyes...it was an exhilirating experience. Walter told me what he was doing at his apartment with his partner, Rich Flores. Rich Flores was great at cutting acetates. I felt very special that I had these records from Melting Pot Sounds. I felt that I was a special part of something big. Something that was beginning to explode. Something that would take over a major portion of my young adult life. It was the addiction to great dance music, and I was proud to be a pioneer in it.
-Did you also go to Sunshine Sound:
I vaguely remember the Sunshine Sound Studio. It was nothing special. Just a room to wait in while your record was getting ready. A few that were made, were from the band that I was a former part of, and I was told to come back later and pick them up...while they were being lathed.
-Which places besides Sunshine Sound and Melting Pot Sounds you bought acetates:
I also had acetates custom made from Angel Sound (NYC). One was Gichy Dan and Beachwood # 9: "On a Day Like Today" and b/w "Laisse Faire" which was put on a 12" acetate. Gichy Dan (Frank Passalaqua) was a friend of mine back in the day, and he gave me his un-released tape to have an acetate cut at Angel Sound. (August Darnell was the Producer of that group...which would later become a branch into KID CREOLE & THE COCONUTS.)
-What were the prices of the acetates in that time:
Acetates were expensive at the time. One 12" would cost at least $10.00 (which in todays dollars...would be easlily doubled.)
-How did this work, was there a list you could chooses from ?:
I can't recall if I ever looked at a list from Sunshine Sound, or Angel Sound. That was illegal, so they shunned promoting copywrited music. I liked to mix a live set of music, and the quality of acetates wasn't up to par with the factory 12" that were just introduced into the marketplace. I was so into mixing, and timing, that "Pre-Mixed" "canned" stuff from Sunshine Sound, wasn't my thing.
-Did you ever consider making your own edit’s and presses them on Acetate ?:
I was the first DJ to come-up with the theory of "BPM" in 1974. I would time my records to a second hand on my watch, and organize my discs according to tempo. I once mentioned my newly discovered "BPM" technique to Walter Gibbons, and he simply dismissed my theory as "Technical Jargon." Soon later... I became involved with my "musical notation" to identify the opening drum "Hook" that would "open-up" a song. I would write, in musical notes, the exact beginning of a song. It would assist me in putting the timing in precise order for flawless intro's. Later on, I used the technique to explode a drum hook at a certain times inside a different song. Many of my records have labels that still have the musical notation on them. If you look at some of my listed records on eBay, you can see the musical notations put on them.
I always wanted to put my own mixes on tape, and later have them put on acetate, but it seemed a waste to do it when I was mixing better live.
I usually never mixed a record back-to-back with the same mix I did before. I always liked to try new mixes, and mix hot new music with other newer cuts. I was afraid if I brought my mixes to be cut onto acetate, that somehow...the mix would be stolen....and some jerk DJ working at a shitty little Disco would end up using MY mix at his club, and tell others HE originated the mix.
There was no way to "copywright" my mix. It would end up being community property without any substantial credit.
I had a nice following of DJ's that knew my talents, and wanted to learn how to mix. I started to tell them about how to study the music, and the most important theory to follow...was to know where the "ONE" was. A couple of DJ's starting out, asked me to show them the ropes. I gave them music theory books, and "How To Read Music" which turned them off. They weren't really interested in the deep thought of music structure, and the foundation of rhythm.....all they wanted was to just spin records like a pro.
Another thing that I regret (besides my name change) is that I was a straight, white, DJ from the suburbs. Something I could never really escape from. I was always myself, knew my limitations, and was never a phony. I lived my life in a quiet, respectful, rather conservative shell. I had a tough childhood, with many obsticles to overcome, and was more interested in bettering myself. I DJ'd my way through college (B.S. in Economics...C.U.N.Y 1982) and stayed to myself after the "Disco-Bubble" burst in the beginning of 1980.
-Are you still DJ íng today:
After a few guest appearances in the 90's, which ended up close to disaster, and my ill-fated attempt to create an old fashioned Disco in West Palm Beach, Fl. in 2005, i finally put to rest, the idea of ever performing again.
It's a different time, and a different world.
Mark is also selling his collection on Ebay (All original pressings !!).
Here is the link to go to Ebay: