Living

NY Mirror

by

Mark Raskin (music composer/producer/ arranger; event coordinator)

Income $40,000 (1999)

Health Insurance covered by union

Rent $1195/mo. Utilities $130/mo.

Phone $130/mo. Food $450/mo.

Transportation $100/mo.

He was 14, he says, and he and his friend had gone to get ice cream. They were walking home along a train track in Morris Plains, New Jersey. It was a humid night in the beginning of summer. He was wearing a silver pendant around his neck. It was one of those things, a chance in a million, a spark flew from the track, traveled through the air and hit the silver pendant, which became a super conductor. He turned into a big burst of light and flames, shot back five feet horizontally, 40 feet down below the tracks, and was burned beyond description. “It was a big fat miracle that I didn’t die, which they thought I would 12 times,” composer Mark Raskin, 26, says. “The voltage was twice the amount of an electric chair. They thought it would take a year in intensive care. I did it in two months, though I spent the year covered in shark gill oil.”

So when his beautiful girlfriend Denise, who he met last summer before an Orbital concert, gets upset sometimes because they need a bigger apartment and it’s so expensive and she can’t do her yoga—she just moved here from L.A.—Raskin tells her, Look, what’s going to happen is going to happen. You have to decide what you’re going to freak out about.

Raskin, wearing a little earring and boots with metal heels, is talking from his East Village studio apartment with the purple pillowcases and poster of Nastassja Kinski. Sitting in front of his sampler, keyboard, mixing board, DAT player, speakers—”it’s like a little temple here”—he says he mainly makes his living designing music and sound for commercials and films for companies, “getting maybe $5000 for a certain ad, then getting $1000 increments for the last 15 months. You get royalties every time the commercial runs. I belong to Associated Musicians of New York. They take care of me.

“I went to Emerson College in Boston. I made up a major, film scoring. I played guitar in high school. I have a musical ear.”

Raskin has composed a full-length hybrid opera of Russian folk tunes, arias, and trip hop beats. He wears a silver rubber dress—”Girls love it”—while doing real-time live-mixing on stage with a singer in an Egyptian bustier. “My parents didn’t know what I was doing till I did my first show at Joe’s Pub. I think they thought I was in a band or something. When we played at Life we got $750, divided between me, the singer, two dancers.” It’s not a money maker yet. “We’re getting together with this woman who wants to package and market us.”

Raskin is also an entrepreneur. “I’ve started a company with some friends. We coordinate parties in lofts. It’s called Movement. We just threw our first party where we charged money.

“My parents said, ‘You sucker, you don’t throw a party to lose money.’ My father is an investment analyst. My mother used to have a chain of Shoes Plus stores in New Jersey.

“We just wanted to throw a good party. Six of us are involved. We’re all working on good faith with each other. If one puts in $1200, another $600, it’s okay. We’ve all been putting off paying our bills so we can afford to pay for these things. We’re trying to get a business plan written up so we can look for investors. We haven’t become incorporated yet because we don’t know what to do.

“Curtis is sort of like the business manager. I’m the minister of sound. The atmospheric sphinx is Denise. We release a CD at every party. Songs by me and the other guys who play. For Valentine’s Day, the party’s going to be more on the romance side. We’re building this heart. It will pound with hydraulics, or maybe a pump.”

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