By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
How does an inspired and original Miami act land a record deal with one of the N.Y./L.A. power axis companies without either going to New York or Los Angeles?
Well, that's not entirely true. Should they hook up with some well-connected hot-shot management team that will go in their place to the power centers, they might get lucky. Or, of course, they can send their tape, along with gazillions of others, to the bigwigs themselves, cross their fingers, wish upon a star, and pray for the best. But they better not hold their breath.
Or, perhaps, they can do what the visionary folks at Murk did -- shirk the majors and form their own record company.
But that takes courage.
Courage and pop music seldom mix.
Ralph Falcon and Oscar Gaeton are the men behind Miami's Murk Records, the hippest and by far most adventurous label to come along since Luke Skyywalker. The two are not only the brains and capital behind the venture, they're the sound and vision as well. In other words, they record the records they release on the label they run. Then they watch 'em fly.
The story begins, as so many encouraging stories do, as a leap of faith. In this case, one born of frustration. The duo had been sculpting sound for years with nary a hint of recognition. Looking for a way into the biz and out of Nowhereville, it was decided that in order to establish a reputation, they'd first have to somehow legitimize themselves. Knocking on doors, tape in hand, simply wasn't cool. A record of their very own was.
In March the big idea that was Murk became reality. The company's first release, "You Got Me," by an act called Intruder (actually Falcon and Gaeton), was a sampledelic groove thang laced with nuance and lust and all the other various and sundry ingredients that make a good record great. And, with the help of some legendary local DJs -- among them Acosta, Diaz, Knapp, Menendez, and Padilla -- "You Got Me" became a dancefloor staple. Quite a feet feat for a couple of new jacks.
Sparked by that first offering's out-of-the-box success, Falcon and Gaeton jumped back into the studio and let loose just weeks later "Together," a track that would come to mark them as Miami's sole purveyors of deep house. Like "You Got Me," the tag team was responsible for the music, but this time they tagged the act Interceptor and featured the voice of a soulful young man named Mark Michael. If Murk's debut was about the sweat of machines, "Together" was its antithesis -- sparse, fluid, and lofty. Sure, it pumped with the requisite thump of the beat box, but it also wailed with the hurt and the hope of the human. And, like it's predecessor, it moved the crowd in a big way.
Murk was on its way. A month later Falcon and Gaeton were back in the fray with "Some Lovin'" by Liberty City, another deep, dark, hypnohouse number, and this time they let a siren named Bebe Dozier do the aural gesticulating. It would prove to be (thus far) Murk's biggest hit. Hot on the heels of "Some Lovin'," the two bounced with yet one more slab of sonic brilliance, "Reach for Me," by, believe it or not, the Funky Green Dogs from Outer Space. It, too, would prove to pack some proper punch.
For all intents and purposes, it would appear that Murk has more faith in Miami than Miami has in Murk, and there have been numerous occasions when the two have been tempted to relocate to money-makin' Manhattan. But Falcon and Gaeton remain steadfast, confident in their work, and determined to show their critics and detractors precisely what's up. In Italy and the U.K., where Murk has one major reputation, the two have been invited to spin, all expenses paid plus. And in fickle, elitist, ultracosmopolitan New York, Murk is on the lips of some very heavy hitters, and there's talk of some big league liaison in the near future. But in some ways they can't even get arrested in their hometown.
Nonetheless it's in Miami, the town they love, that they stay, plying their trade, counting their blessings, and keeping the faith. And was it not that very same true-blue American can-do spirit that built this city in the first place?