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Mars Kestrel is a musician and music-producer based in NYC

music projects

A selection of recent songs produced by Mars Kestrel
MarsKestrel ·


Videos featuring Mars Kestrel's music


Mars Kestrel has been involved with the following bands over the years:
rap & pop
composition & keyboard
late 80's | Oxford UK
Evil Dream Frogadogs
experimental goth
guest appearances & jam sessions
early 90's | Oxford UK
Back To Basics
experimental hip hop & dance
composition & production
early 90's | Oxford UK
early 90's | Oxford UK
experimental progressive rock
composition, production & guitar
early 90's | Oxford UK
The Black Stars
experimental progressive rock
composition, production & guitar
early 90's | Oxford UK
Otis & I
keyboard & samples
mid 90's | Oxford UK
progressive rock
1996 - 1998 | London UK
indie / pop
composition, arrangement & guitar
1998 - 2000 | London UK
Hidden Screws
experimental pop & electronica
production & arrangement
1999 - 2000 | London UK
UK hip hop
composition & production
1999 | Oxford UK
Big Speakers
UK hip hop
composition, production, guitar & bass
1999 - 2006 | Oxford UK
Big Speakers in London 2005
Field Avenue
Folk & Acoustic
composition & guitar
early 2000's | Oxford UK
Voodoo Policeman
experimental jazz & funk
mid-2000's | Oxford UK
Rick Powers Band
classic rock
2006 | Palo Alto USA
ERS / Rainmkers
composition, production & guitar
2013 - 2017 | New York USA
spotify facebook instagram
Rainmkers in NYC 2015
Crab Costume
indie electronica
composition & production
2014 - present | NYC & Oxford UK spotify bandcamp twitter
Crab Costume 2021
heavy psychadelic shoegaze
arrangement & keyboard
2018 | New York USA
The Nunchuks
production, arrangement & bass
2018 - present | New York USA
instagram spotify
The Master Elemanzer
horrorcore / high-magic
composition & production
2017 - present | NYC & Oxford UK


Growing up as a pianist in Oxford UK focusing on classical and jazz renditions and taking the full set of 8 practical musicianship grades and 5 theory grades with the ABRSM, Mars later picked up guitar, bass and drums as part of a quest to understand the common components of most bands.

While at school Mars was a principal founder of the young-oxford-bands-society and wrote a letter to prince charles asking for some money for a drum kit (which was duly obliged). Mars was the member of many bands during his formative years in the early 90's in Oxford ranging from grunge, classic rock and folk-rock to experimental bombastic alternative indie hip hop. During this time Mars saved enough to buy a 4-track tape-recorder and began producing; primarily creating trip hop and alternative electronica as well as some whimsical 60's throwback singer songwriter stuff.

Aged 18, Mars moved to London to read Physics at Imperial College all the while experimenting as a drummer in a progressive rock band and a couple of other side projects; he took a job in a bookshop on King's Road in London playing on an old upright piano balanced in the rafters of the roof and was paid in books; he also worked in a wine shop for the more customary payment of cash - eventually saving enough to acquire a hardware sampler. This was a turning point in Mars's production career as the sampler enabled the creation of way more complex arrangements (despite the limited sample time due available in those days due to memory restrictions). Mars spent much of his time creating electronic beats and soundscapes often resorting to sampling his acoustic guitar, or in one case the loud hiss of cold water being poured into an extremely hot pan. Such compositions were shared with long-time Oxford friend and collaborator MC Tomohawk who in turn played them to his friend from college AJ (also known as Asher Dust).

The Big Speakers were then formed - Oxford's then latest and greatest hip hop outfit! - featuring none other than Mars, Tomohawk, AJ and Sourface (longtime friend, partner in crime and hip hop nut). This four-piece found considerable success in the thriving Oxford music-scene performing to large crowds of regulars at such places as The Cellar, The Venue and The Bully, featuring favourable write-ups from the local music press and performing at festivals such as the Cowley Road carnival and TruckFest. Big Speakers branched out to perform many shows in London and the south of England, and signed a management contract. A close-encounter with a major record-label ended abruptly when a fur-coat adorning A & R man (name witheld) showed interest but then disappeared overnight. Perhaps the highlight of their career was the entering and winning of a contest to support the well known band Dodgy at Burnley Bands in the Park 2000, performing in front of a rapturous crowd of 6,000 revelers. Burgeoning London-based indie radio-station XFM played several of Mars's compositions on the Clair Sturgess show, where she actually picked a Mars / Tomohawk creation as one of her best unsigned acts of the year. After their management contract fell through the band were later joined by four other musicians, effectively doubling in size - MC Fragger, the politically conscious rapper (check out his website here, Tusa the skillfull rhyme-smith, BrassBandJunglist the funky percussionist and Danerous Hands the scratching maestro. Further gigs, recording, and write-ups ensued with gigs in Bristol and Brighton as well as Oxford and London. They self-recorded and released a 10-track album which was peddled fairly successfully at gigs.

Here's a review taken from a performance at The Cellar on 3rd June 2005:

Even though they’re an MC down tonight, Big Speakers still barely squeeze their 7-strong personnel and equipment into the Cellar. The instrumentation blends a wide range of styles – hip hop, soul, jazz, funk and even ska – by way of synth, guitar, bass, scratching and sample sounds, while MCs Tomohawk and Soulface’s aggressive Gravediggaz/Wu Tang Clan-like vocals both meld nicely and contrast sharply with the more laid-back Fragger and soulful yet underused AJ. Always tight despite their size, tracks like Lately, Apologies, Overpaid Slave and Apocolypse Rising are catchy and memorable, though still have heartfelt and provocative lyrics.

In some ways it would be a shame to deny a larger audience the intimacy and immediacy of Big Speakers experiences like tonight’s; however, their conviction, and how much they care about both the music and their message, will be palpable however large the audience is. It’s such a delight and so refreshing to come across an act not frightened to mix genres, be outspoken and experiment. Kirsten Etheridge - NightShift magazine June 2005

Here's a review of Big Speakers 10-track self-released album a month later:

‘Big Speakers’
(Own Label)
Big Speakers logo
The idea of hip hop from Oxford – hell, predominantly white hip hop from Oxford at that – should be anathema to the whole socalled urban schtik, but anyone who caught Big Speakers rip up the Cellar at the Punt back in May will testify to their authenticity.
Of course Big Speakers in their continually expanding form have been around the local scene for a few years now, earning themselves a clutch of Nightshift Demo Of The Month awards in the process, but 2005 finds the collective fully formed (four MCs plus vocalist AJ, decks, samples, drums and guitars), this is their first full-length CD, part album part collection of recent demos.
The vibe is predominantly old school rap with a softer trip hop underbelly and diversions into ragga, jazz and soul. The five-vocal frontline gives Big Speakers plenty of scope for variety and they play their hand well, the lead switching from Sourface’s lispy Frank Black delivery to AJ’s softer, Horace Andy-leaning offerings.
The beats and backing are rarely punishing, giving this 10-track album a more laid-back feel than their contorting live show. “This is an Englishman’s rap”, they offer on `Wake Up’, with its echoes of Credit To The Nation and you realise that this is a different beast entirely to its American cousin. Funny and sad that it’s only in the last couple of years that the Brits themselves have started to take their homegrown rappers seriously, years after the French, Italians and even Israelis. Big Speakers, like the best of their British counterparts, know that the best way to sound true is to rap about what they know – in this case, anything from feelings on the Iraq war and the potentially imminent death of Maggie Thatcher, to simpler love songs. Once in a while, like on the stoner tilt of `Science’, they can be a bit stilted, but such moments are rare and for the most part there’s a warm fluidity as they switch leads. London-centric snobbery might make it harder for Big Speakers to be taken seriously outside of Oxford but with successful gigs around the rest of the country already under their belt, they’re already proving they can lead an unlikely revolution. Dale Kattack - NightShift magazine July 2005

In 2006 Kestrel took a work opportunity to fly to Silicon Valley where he briefly joined the Rick Powers band in Palo Alto (who still appear to be active to this day) and in 2008, the Kestrel flew to Tokyo Japan also on work assignment (where unfortunately there wasn't time to indulge in music). In 2009 Kestrel migrated to NYC and discovered Ableton (shout out to Taylor) and started afresh with music production in earnest. Using the nearby headquarters of Flux Studios as a resource, Mars took it upon himself to learn the art of mixing to enable his productions to be heard at their full potential. This was and still is a never-ending journey but one which provides much fulfillment.

Mars spent a couple of years in electro-punk outfit ERS / Rainmkers (Rainmkers on Spotify) as producer and performer and played in Brooklyn's Knitting Factory on several occasions along with Webster Hall, many different dive bar locations in and around the North East and at a rather large rock festival in Michigan whose name escapes me.

At the same time Mars has been working with Asher Dust under the moniker Crab-Costume making experimental indie electronica. They have been played on-air by Dubmission in Pittsburgh recently among other places. Check out their latest news and listen to their stuff at

Mars is also working with hip hop and grunge artist Pittsburgh Slim and co-produced and mixed his latest 2 albums and is currently working on the next - you can check out Pittsburgh Slim on Spotify here. Slim and Kestrel have named their collaboration the Nunchuks (check out The Nunchuks on Instagram).

Mars has also reignited his connection with Big Speakers bandmates Sourface, Asher Dust and Tomohawk for an exciting project that is in the pipeline (I wish I could say more - but watch this space!).

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