Long before Markee rewrote the rulebook, whilst he presented Kosheen to the world, on a how a band could blur musical boundaries and gain respect from peers and fans alike, group creator, producer and songwriter Markee Ledge was making up his own rules as he began his notable musical journey.
Born in Glasgow and raised on a diet of Cocteau Twins, Everything But The Girl, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and a healthy portion of dub reggae, including Scientist, Lee Scratch Perry and King Tubby, Markee started writing songs on his guitar in his bedroom from his early teens.
Markee always gravitated towards new sounds and as a teenager was attracted to the Sub Club where the Slam boys were helping to usher in the new era of house and techno. Hearing this new clubbing soundtrack greatly affected his desire to produce electronic-based music tracks.
A move to Bristol exposed Markee to the emerging styles of ragga, breakbeat and hardcore techno. Conscious of these fresh new sounds and local talent, he started jungle club night Ruffneck Ting with his Ledge crew.
He also started producing under the name Substance and this is where he met his long-term collaborator, Darren Beale aka Decoder. The duo pursued a tech drum & bass soundtrack with their next label venture, Breakbeat Culture, as well as running labels Tech Itch and the Breakbeat Culture record shop and parties.
At the same time, Bristol came into its own with the ascent of Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead, as well as groundbreaking drum & bass DJs like Roni Size, Krust & Die. Decoder & Substance released some seminal music in this so-called ‘golden era’ of drum & bass.
Markee pursued his interest songwriting and forming a band. “Although I had got into production through technology and was happy making instrumental music, I still wanted to switch up the tempos, get back to writing songs and do the band thing.” He began searching for vocalists and in 1999 found singer Sian and Markee created Kosheen.
Kosheen signed to independent Moksha Recordings the same year and released three singles, which generated grass roots support. The band began recording their debut album ‘Resist’ the following year, which was signed and released by BMG Records in 2001. In the meantime the single ‘Hide U’ had blown up in the clubs before crossing over to the UK charts at No. 7.
Upon release, ‘Resist’ charted at No. 8 and with the release of two subsequent singles, ‘Catch’ and ‘Hungry, it sold half a million copies, making it the most successful drum & bass album at that time.
After touring extensively, Kosheen had become a successful live act and festival favourite. By 2002 the band had recorded enough new material for their second album ‘Kokopellii’ and many tracks were written with live audiences in mind. The album charted at No. 6 in the UK and first single ‘All In My Head’ hit No.7.
Their third album, ‘Damage’, was released on Universal in Germany and Moksha in the UK, while their fourth and fifth albums, ‘Independence’ and ‘Solitude’, came out on their own label.
Through all this, Markee has remained the central figure, writing the music and songs as well as producing / engineering the albums and overseeing the project.
Since Kosheen have taken a break from recording in 2011, Markee has continued writing new material and collaborating with other producers and vocalists. Markee Ledge’s new album ‘Elevate’ was initiated from these sessions.
“I knew I had a bunch of very powerful songs in the bag and I was really digging the real deep sound coming from London and Rinse FM,” he explains. “I wanted to reach out to the producers I was feeling and make fresh music and recapture that vibe we had on ‘Resist’ – a real current sound but with soulful, powerful songs.”
Featuring a selection of guest writers/singers including Alys Be, Susie Ledge, and Jodie Elms, Markee’s solo album also features guest producers like Seven, Leon Switch, dubspeeka and Rinse FM’s DJ Youngsta, whose fresh take on underground music has added inspiration to the project.
Markee’s ‘Elevate’ album continues the Kosheen vibe with big vocal fronted tracks, however he’s placed a greater emphasis on cutting edge, instrumental productions to satisfy the current UK underground music scene’s desire for deeper sounds.