Mark de Clive-Lowe Finds the Essence of His Art on ‘Heritage’


It’s hard to pin down Mark de Clive-Lowe.

Born in New Zealand, where he developed a love for jazz through his father’s big band records before turning his ear to the nascent American hip-hop of Brand Nubian and Native Tongues, de Clive-Lowe moved to London during the late 1990s and built a reputation as a DJ and producer. He’s now based in Los Angeles, where he’s since rediscovered the piano and become a staple of the West Coast jazz scene. Zig-zagging through musical genres, de Clive-Lowe’s heritage is equally mixed: born to a Japanese mother and a New Zealander father who spent 30 years in Japan.

“I grew up primarily in New Zealand, where there were very few mixed-race people around me, especially Asians. So, there was a lack of a sense of belonging and identity,” de Clive-Lowe said. This upbringing was in an archetypally Japanese household, set among the rolling green of New Zealand, hearing traditional folk tales from his mother, while his older brother got him into the languorous piano compositions of Ahmad Jamal. This cultural meandering ultimately expressed itself in de Clive-Lowe’s own music, spawning the fractal freneticism of the broken beat genre he was instrumental in creating during the decade he lived in London.

Read the feature in Downbeat Magazine.

[This piece was published on 18/02/19]