In his video’s opening statement, DJ Mars sums it all up: “I’m not an athlete, but I feel like I’ve been running my entire life.” That idea kicked off the “Where Are You Running To?” collaboration between Mars and New Balance, a collection of testimony and short films documenting how NB plays an important part in the lives of not just athletes, but all those who are constantly running.
NewBalance.com: What does “Where Are You Running To?” mean to you? What were some of your goals for this series as a whole?
DJ Mars: “Where are you running to?” is a phrase that describes my lifestyle. The term isn’t specific to me, it could be applied to anyone who has a busy schedule. For example, the single mother who has to take her children to school and then rush to work. The businessman who travels overseas for a company meeting. Or in my case, the DJ who lives in hotels more often than his own house. All of these people come from different walks of life, but share one common thing – they’re all extremely busy!
The goal was to offer the brand and its consumers a new way of looking at each other. Often thought of as just a running brand, New Balance has a place in all of our lives.
NewBalance.com: What was your first pair of NBs? What about your most memorable pair?
DJ Mars: My first pair of New Balances were probably a pair of 576s. I don’t remember the model number but I do remember the color was navy and grey.
My uncle bought them for me in 1985. I remember him buying them in Holyoke, Massachusetts. They were the most expensive shoes that I owned at the time.
As far as my most memorable pair, ironically, I would have to say my black 710s. There’s a back story to that shoe for me. Back in high school, my friends and I all worked at McDonald’s, and we used to save our money to go shopping in New York. Well, one Christmas we all went to NY and we found them at a store in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Sometime after that, a rapper named Kool G. Rap had on a pair on either his album or video, and we were super excited that we had the shoes before he did. Back then, most kids got their sense of style from the rappers. We were ahead of the curve.
NewBalance.com: What does New Balance as a brand mean to you, and what do you think it means to Hip Hop culture as a whole?
DJ Mars: In the late 80’s and early 90’s New Balance was one of the shoes of choice in the Hip Hop community. Especially when the rappers were dressing preppy. That was the shoe that set them apart from the Run DMC era.
To me New Balance means classic, iconic, simple style. Nothing too over the top or corny. They are who they are, and that’s it. Either you like it or you don’t, and that’s kind of how Hip Hop is. Both of them have an “I’m here to stay” vibe to them.
Original ‘Where Are You Running To’ Concept Video
NewBalance.com: What young artists do you see as the future of Hip Hop?
DJ Mars: As far as the future of Hip Hop, there are a lot of very exciting groups out there. Some of my favorite new ones are Jay Electronica, Killa Mike, Foreign Exchange, The Hall of Justice Crew, Pac Div, and The New Boyz. Those are some of my favorite new MC’s. On any given day you could find me listening to them.
NewBalance.com: How do you handle an unresponsive or negative crowd? Was there ever a time when you temporarily lost an audience, and then switched things up and won them back?
DJ Mars: Sometimes crowds can be very unpredictable. You can walk into a room and have no idea as to what the crowd is into that particular night. There have been times where I decided to go left and the crowd was like, “na brother you better stay right!” Good DJs are ones who can bounce back from that moment. It happens to every single one of us. If a DJ says otherwise, either he doesn’t play out too often or he’s lying.
NewBalance.com: Has Max the dog ever chewed up a pair of your NBs?
DJ Mars: Thank God I had Max go through obedience training before I brought him home. With that being said, he has not sunk his teeth into a pair of New Balance’s. That’s a funny thing, because most dogs tear their owners’ shoes up. Max on the other hand opts for his beef bone.
NewBalance.com: What are your other passions outside of DJing? If for some reason you had to give up DJing, what else would you be doing?
DJ Mars: Outside of DJing, I would definitely say I have a passion for brand development and marketing. In college I always felt as though marketing should have been my major. DJs far and wide are responsible for finding the new cool. Be it records, fashion, club venues, products, or artists, we are a part of the cycle that makes things hot.
I want to approach marketing and brand development the same way I would a new record. By that, I mean find a product that has potential and magnify it for my world to see.
NewBalance.com: You’ve done a lot in your career – toured with Outkast and Usher, founded the World Famous Super Friends, and became a star in the DJ scene. What are some goals you’re still running to?
DJ Mars: I’ve done a lot, but I would definitely say there are a few more things I’d like to scratch off my list. I’m just starting to get into production, I believe that’s the next step for me. I want to tour the world on accord, meaning go because DJ Mars is being booked – not the artist that I work for. And most importantly, have my company be viewed as a resource to reach untapped markets. I appreciate New Balance for having that initial faith in me.
DJ Mars is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, a founder of the World Famous Super Friends, and was a contender on last year’s Smirnoff: Master of the Mix. Be sure to check back here for more on the “Where Are You Running To?” project, and for new videos every week. For more information on DJ Mars, visit his blog at historyofmixtapes.com.