Cocoa Beach, Florida is home to one of the most famous tattoo artists in the world — Mark Longenecker. With such an interesting scope of talent, Longenecker has never ceased from chasing that ever-longing drive, that head-to-ground ethos that has lifted him into atmospheric heights.
Mark has never backed down from a challenge.
He has his built his own signature tattoo style for over 30 years, earning him a spot in the top ranks. We had the opportunity to explore his music — which, my friends, holds no boundaries. As a metalhead, I yearn for music with intensity and depth. But on the other hand, we need to lighten up in this world. This is Mark’s goal: to enlighten everyone around him and spread good vibes in this dark world. Longenecker has his own state-of-the-art tattoo shop; he has been on Ink Master multiple times, lasting to the finals! He has also picked up music throughout his career, deejaying some of the biggest reggae tours and sharing the stage with the likes of Pepper, Dirty Heads, Yellowman, Collie Buddz, and more! The music he creates is seamless, extending the life of original music while encapsulating the essence of his creative mind.
How long you’ve been tattooing? And how long you’ve been performing?
- ML: I’ve been deejaying longer than I’ve been tattooing. I’ve been tattooing for close to 30 years, but I started deejaying in college.
What drew you to music?
- I was always in bands in high school. I was always around music with my parents. There’s always instruments in the house and stuff. And when I got to college, I formed a band right away. And then, the rave scene started popping off. That was making me mad, because it was taking people away from the live music scene. I started hating DJs and, then, I became one.
- After [a] party, I bought turntables. I skipped the part where I took a bunch of ecstasy… [I was] excited about it [to] really feel the music. I have been focusing on deejaying ever since.
- I still pick up the guitar and play the drums… different things. But deejaying is the thing that gets me in front of people. So I’ve been doing events every year — Dub Massive and all sorts of Jamaican Me Crazy, different DJ events. I stay active with that.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never listened to it?
- Well, I focus on Caribbean music, dancehall reggae, and good vibes.
You’re also well-known for your signature tattoo style. How do you think the tattoo industry and the music industry parallel each other? And which do you find more challenging?
- Oh, tattooing was my main love and it’s what I’ve dedicated my life to. And it’s always been a challenge. Because I put all my 100% into that. That’s where I’ve had more success. I feel like if I did vice versa and just focus solely on music, I probably could have done just as good in that direction, too.
- But I always say a good thing with the comparison is that if you ask musicians, especially the famous rock stars, who they look up to is artists and especially tattoo artists. I think it’s cool that they look up to tattoo artists. You know, we all want to be rock stars. How amazing it would be to be a rock star… The best life, like the highest level of living. And the one thing that they look up to is tattoo artist.
The artistry within your tracks is exciting. What inspires you in the creative process?
- When I get hyped up for somebody coming into town, I’ll make a mix for them or about them or theme by them. Then, I kind of start promoting that. Hopefully, I can get the gig opening for them. And, you know, that just kind of gets the hype going locally for that band. And so, when I’m mixing, I am trying to get creative and find other stuff. I’m not just mixing music; I look up YouTube videos and try to find examples of people talking. You know, if the band has an interview or a podcast, I listen to the whole thing or just for one little soundbite saying something funny or something to transition between songs and try to get creative that way.
Okay, I am completely captivated by ‘Hip Hop Yoga Mix’!
- I’m so deep in the yoga world now, too. I’m deejaying at yoga festivals when they [need someone] to DJ in that type of environment. And how to make mixes for these kinds of situations of like doing yoga or post-yoga party, you know, so that’s kind of been on my mind a lot now.
I did hear you are teaching yoga, right?
- Yeah, because I was already doing a lot of yoga. I really started at tattoo conventions. I was always doing yoga in the gym, technical methods, and this would catch the peoples’ eye. I always say, you know, if you’re shining your light bright, people will come.
- I feel like there was a yoga teacher inside of me dying to get out! This also connects to the music because deejaying during yoga — you’re guiding people through movement. Dropping in little spiritual gems to keep the people positive about life and motivation. Yoga is about the mind, body, and spirit here, not just focusing on the body, which is a lot of what a lot of people think. That’s what gets you there. But what keeps you there comes [are] the physical benefits and mental benefits.
- Oh and one more thing I want to talk about is the animals, as I don’t eat them. And you know, that’s part of the yoga path. And I think I love them more than humans. So I am looking out for them.
You and your wife are big fundraisers and advocates for wildlife, too?
- We’ve raised money for wildlife and manatees. We’re big into the river; we’re always doing events on the water. It’s our backyard and it is important to preserve our oceans and lagoons.
What’s your philosophy to stay such a go-getter?
- Especially now that I’m older, I think about what I would say to my younger self is, ‘No one is going to come to you; you’re not going to get the lucky break. You really do have to have to get after it if you want that success. If you are around negative people, misery loves company, right? So think about how you’re living your life. If you love getting after, challenging yourself, and surrounding yourself by people that are more successful [than you], you’re gonna do better.’
Let’s talk festivals real quick. I think you’d be great Reggae Rise Up!
- That’s always been on my list — it just makes sense. I’ve tried to reach out… You know, we could do dub yoga events. That would be perfect.
We have no doubt that Mark will get to Reggae Rise Up one day! For more on Mark Longenecker’s music, art, and tattoos, visit the links below. I know we will be seeing more of him at events to come!
Get tatted by Mark Longenecker
- Book an appointment at Endless Summer Tattoo