Surrey on the Loop: Baselines, Crossfades, and Everything In Between. Part 4/4
He’s a part of the DJ Crew “The Freshest”, production duo “Live Evil”, and a rep for “DJ City”. A music connoisseur and fashion designer by day, and a highly reputable, multi-genre DJ by night. Vancouver born and Surrey raised DJ Marvel tells us more about his professional evolution in Part 4/4 of our local DJ Highlight Series. Michael Henry (professionally known as DJ Marvel), was born in North Vancouver and lived in East Vancouver for a few years prior to moving to the Surrey in 1986 with his family.
Music has always been a large part of his life from a very young age, so it was almost inevitable that he would evolve in the music industry and make a career out of it. “Growing up, my parents had a solid record collection and always had music playing in the house. I took some piano classes & even played the Tenor Sax at Bonaccord Elementary School.
Around the same time in Grade 6 I started listening to 2 Live Crew, & Public Enemy and used to drive to Bellingham on the weekends to stock up on Cassette Singles of whatever the popular songs were at the time.” Marvel recalls a time in grade 7 when one of his friends threw a birthday party, and he got asked to bring his own home stereo set-up and play a mixture of whatever cassettes and CD’s he had. “[I was] not doing any mixing, just selecting songs but I guess that was my first taste of playing music for people.”
He started his record-collection not long after that -whether he bought them himself, or “borrowed” them from his parents collection, but it wasn’t until his grade 12 year where he got his first set of turntables (Technics 1200), which he split between his high school friend. With the shared turntable, one of his parents’ home-stereo turntables, and a Radio Shack Mixer, Marvel had pieced together his first full dj set-up. He lived in the Guildford area for all of his school years and graduated from Johnston Heights Secondary in 1997. “Surrey is where it all began for me and I’m proud of where I come from.”
From the high school years onwards, he looked to Four Color Zack, Miles Medina, Jazzy Jeff & A-Trak for inspiration, and he spent countless hours of practice in the bedroom behind closed doors, before he started stepping out into the scene and showcasing the evolution of his craft. First, he began DJing for friends’ house parties and second, local warehouse parties.
From there, “My first club gigs were In Kits at The Urban Well where I would play sets between comedians. I did this for a while, and then one day my dad showed me that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines [were] hiring DJs, and I got hired to DJ for them.” At 19-years-old, DJ Marvel had the exciting opportunity to travel all over the world mastering his craft of DJing with a widely diverse demographic.
“It definitely opened my eyes to different cultures and playing for a wide range of people [with different ages and cultures].” He worked for the Cruise Line for 3 years, and once back in Surrey, he began a residency as the in-house DJ at The Mirage Club in Surrey where he played up to 4 nights a week. The evolution continued from there.
While working at Mirage, Marvel began doing guest DJ sets at a ‘legendary party’ called Get Up Get Down that took place in downtown Vancouver at the Tokyo Lounge. Then came the initiation of his DJ Crew, The Freshest, which later launched the Good Life Sundays party brand, which has become Vancouver’s longest running club night.
“Around 2006 I started traveling more for DJing playing in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and building relationships with DJs around the country. After that I started playing more shows in The States and have played NY, LA, SF, Miami, Seattle, Texas, and all spots in between.”
With all the evolution in his craft over the years, he now considers himself as an ‘open-format’ DJ that likes to work with different music genres while always incorporating aspects of hip-hop style, scratching, clever transitions, and “most importantly, [a] good flow”. “My ideal set-up is 2 technics 1200 Turntables and 1 Pioneer S9 mixer.
The S9 is an incredible mixer and has become an integral part of how I sound and DJ.” And how many albums does he currently have in that collection of his? “I sold and purged a lot of records when I moved downtown, but I still have about 1k records on hand.”
Nowadays, DJ Marvel holds down several DJ residencies in Vancouver while managing to travel quite a bit. He is constantly creating original music, edits, and remixes, while also acting as a representative for the World’s largest record pool – DJ City.
And for those who want to learn more, where does DJ Marvel recommend heading for some great DJ instruction? “Table Tutors in Burnaby! They have a great infrastructure, curriculum, and even a few great instructors from Surrey (shout out to Wundrkut, & G-Nius)!” “I feel that music is one of the greatest forms of self expression and that when you tell your true and honest story, that is when you make the strongest connection with fans that will stick with you your whole career.
Once one person has that voice it can touch people in a very positive way and inspire change.” DJ Marvel has definitely found his voice, and we are grateful for that. He has impacted the local music culture and beyond, while staying true to his roots- and will continue to make waves in the scene wherever he goes. And that deserves a playback. Want to find DJ Marvel playing in the city? Find him at Parlour on Thursdays, Gran Reserva on Fridays, Fortune Sound Club on Saturdays and Republic on Sundays.
Check out DJ Marvel’s personal social media channels mixed with his other collaborations and clothing brand here: