Monday, January 26, 2009
Mark Henning Interview
The second interview of the month comes from ex corporate whore and newly-resident Berliner, Mark Henning. The intro and discography are ripped off his Myspace page.
London’s Mark-Henning has risen up as one of the international underground's true players - recording for a volley of acclaimed European labels by night and slaving as a corporate whore by day. But now he has freed himself from the 9 to 5 shackles and slog of the city to concentrate on his passion for music full time - ROCK N'ROLL!
Born in 1977 to English and German parents, he has spent most of his life in England, though has never forgotten his German techno roots and has recently relocated to Berlin. Inspired by a whole range of music (from Dan Bell to Dinosaur Jr. to Ed Rush & Optical), Mark-Henning's sound sits somewhere between house and techno, with a healthy dose of futuristic bleeps, funk, darkness, groove and deepness. His releases have found their way into the record boxes of the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Craig Richards, Akufen, Mr C, Laurent Garnier and Richie Hawtin to name just a few. Additionally his tracks have been licensed to recent Fabric and Minus compilations - as well as acheiving airplay on radio stations worldwide.
He has established himself as a player in the scene over the last couple of years, not just through his productions (on labels such as Soma, Cynosure, Trapez, Freude am Tanzen, Foundsound, Einmaleins, Frankie, Morris Audio, Safari Electronique, Mo’s Ferry, Milnor Modern), but also through his world-wide performances - mixing up deep house, techno and everything in between to get dancefloors kicking up a sweat.
Balancing his heavy day job in London with his music wasn't easy, but the hard work over the past few years is beginning to pay off. Mark-Henning is now a sought-after producer and remixer in the underground scene and his DJing has taken him around the world. He's performed in the US, Canada, Japan, Russia, Australia and all over Europe - and now also holds a residency at 'Home' near Frankfurt in Germany. Having released his debut album on the legendary UK label Soma Recorings in the summer of 2008 to great acclaim, he'll now be concentrating on further solo work and new collaborations, as well as touring his live PA.
So, how are you?
MH: Not too bad. I'm a bit stressed. I've been buying some new stuff for my studio and everything's a bit hectic. I need to rearrange things. I'm having to build an extra desk . . . there' are cables and boxes everywhere, but I'm getting some nice stuff. I've just bought a really cool analogue mixing desk (on Craig's List, would you believe), off a well-known female producer in Berlin, - any guesses? . . . and I've just been trying to integrate it into my studio - the options are giving me a headache.
So, how's life in Berlin, anything unexpected?
MH: Berlin's cool, very cold at the moment, minus 20 outside . . .me and my wife have sort of settled in. We know lots of people here but the people we see regularly aren't necessarily those we met when we first arrived. It's been like one long fresher's week at university. The summer was really nice, we did a lot of partying, it's always nice to have the option to be able to go out whenever you want, to see what everyone is doing and get a feel for what's in and what isn't. . . .the vibe of what people are playing out and what people are feeling. Since the summer we haven't been going out that much though. I've been gigging a little bit more and haven't always wanted to be going raving at Panorama Bar, you know?
Sure. Is Panorama Bar an inspirational place?
MH: Definitely. I went there twice when I first got here last April but then for some reason didn't go for a while. But then the other week we went for a Perlon night and, although the music wasn't as good as I'd expected the whole time, I came away inspired. But I've recently been getting my head down and doing a lot of producing but that doesn't always work if you're always going out. If you're gigging and the time you have off you end up going clubbing you can end up wasting a few days during the week sorting your life out when you could be hard at work in the studio.
So what are you working on at the moment?
MH: I've got lots of new stuff in the pipeline. There's a remix on Hypercolour just around the corner, and in terms of EPs I've just signed a couple of tracks to Frankie, that'll be my second release for them about three years after the first one so I'm excited about that. I'm also going to be doing an EP on Hypercolour in the summer, with someone, as yet unconfirmed, to remix. Also an EP on Danish label Tic Tac Toe. I'm just working on tons of tracks at the moment. I've at my busiest in the studio since I moved away from Cambridge I think, because it took a while to get settled, then we were out a lot and I was DJing more . . .did a few remixes in the last year but didn't get around to doing that much new stuff of my own, so it's been really nice to get busy again.
How would you define your sound? I would say that it's quite close to what I would describe as old-style tech-house . . . quite messy, druggy and rolling, reasonably well-rounded, which is one of the reasons I wasn't surprised that you were invited over to play the Absurd party in Los Angeles. I see you as a contemporary of people like Terry Francis and Eddie Richards. What's your take on it?
MH: It's a real mixture. I've really been influenced by the house scene recently . . .going to lots of outdoor parties in the summer which kept the techno to a minimum. I've been buying a lot of house and I've been making a real mixture of stuff, deep house and tech-house but yeah . . . I was really into Mr C's show on Kiss FM when I was younger and that really gave me something to aim at when I moved from drum and bass to techno. I was listening to him, Colin Dale and
Dave Mothersole every week and buying everything they were playing.
Did you ever go to any of the Wiggle parties around that time?
MH: I didn't, no. I was living on the outskirts of London, and I was at university in Birmingham, which was more of a techno town, so I never really got around to going to any, apart from isolated occasions at The End and Fabric. Anyway, at the moment I'm making a real mixture of things, which is maybe why it's proving a little difficult to get stuff signed, it's all still house or techno though. Having said that, the two tunes I've done for Frankie have almost got an electro tinge to them. I like too many different styles, so maybe it'd be better if I stuck to one sound, but I get bored in the studio and playing out sticking to the same agenda.
Was the Absurd party any different to what you're used to playing in Europe?
MH: No, very similar in fact. It was really amazing, one of the best parties I played last year. It was in a warehouse, pitch black . .. literally . . .I was surprised though at how up for it everyone was. They knew exactly what they wanted. I did a remix for Absurd actually, of Tigerskin, which still hasn't come out yet. I guess they're having some issues with their distribution like everyone else. The chance to play at the party came about on the back of the remix. Fantastic party to play, really nice guys as well. I met Eddie Richards for the first time, who was super nice.
Conceptually, I though your album was a little bit more than the sum of it's parts and I remember talking about the track titles when I reviewed it. Anything in this?
MH: Not really, no. The titles are just in jokes between me and my friends. They're normally quite spontaneous things that I come up with while working. I'll often finish a track and then brainstorm something if necessary.
Well that blows my theory that you were constructing some post apocalyptic Dickensian parallel Britain out of the water. I thought that maybe the world portrayed through the titles could have been the reason you went over to Berlin in the first place?
MH: Well, 'Chav Town' for example . . . I probably came up with that as a result of some chavs beating someone up and it getting on the news, nothing special. I was definitely influenced by my surroundings in the UK at that time, but nothing more than that.
What about sales? What for you constitutes a successful piece of work?
MH: I'm not sure of any exact numbers. I know that downloads on Beatport have been doing well but I'm not sure about the physical side. I've had a lot of good feedback about the album which I'm very pleased about. I didn't expect it to really be a huge thing for me as its pretty deep but I'm very happy with what it's got me so far.
What about making a living? Is it possible doing what you do?
MH: It is but it's quite tight. We have a nice, big apartment here in Berlin . . . we definitely could have saved a bit of money getting a smaller place, but I work hard here. I have my studio here at home so I wanted to have a nice amount of space for myself. . . Out here it's definitely easier than in the UK, where we'd struggle a bit, but my wife's got a job, so she's earning and with the general day-to-day costs being lower over here it's ok. I took a huge pay cut when I quit my old job in the city to come over here but at the moment it's still working although I can't save any more, just buy a few bits and pieces for my studio, go out and have fun.
What's your Djing set-up, still Traktor Scratch plus a Technics 1210?
MH: I use Traktor Scratch now full-on with the control vinyl and a Fader Fox midi controller with that. I do bring a bit of vinyl with me, but not much, just a bag wherever I go . . .and I've started doing a live set, which is very basic at the moment, just Ableton with a midi controller. I'm constantly thinking about how to expand that but I haven't come up with the right bit of kit yet. I've had great feedback so far so exactly what kit I use isn't that important at the end of the day.
So you're definitely a digital man?
MH: Yeah, but it makes me really sick how vinyl has gone downhill. I know people like me are adding to the problem but the convenience of just taking one bag on your travels is wonderful. I've got a bad back anyway so I'm not really a fan of having to lug heavy loads around and spending longer in airports.
Where are you going in the next year then?
MH: A lot of the same places I was in last year. Russia, Japan, The US, maybe Australia again. Something in the US is planned for the spring, a little mini-tour, South America maybe and just around Europe again. I'm also playing Fabric for the first time next month - a live set - I can't wait for that.
[Soma 254] Mark-Henning // Fabrique Belgique EP (2008)
[Soma cd69] Mark-Henning // Jupiter Jive LP (2008)
[Soma 249] Mark-Henning // All Star Geek EP (2008)
[Titbit 008] Mark-Henning // Geezer EP (2008)
[Cynosure 026] Mark-Henning // Sick Note EP (2007)
[Einmaleins 026] Mark-Henning // Hot Fork Buffet EP (2007)
[TrapezLtd 052] Mark-Henning // Pokerbot EP (2007)
[Einmaleins 011] Mark-Henning // Curve Ball EP (2006)
[Gastpiel 2-2] Mark-Henning & DNCN // We are Diep (Part 2) (2006)
[Foundsound 007] Mark-Henning // The Dog's Bollocks EP (2006)
[Freude-am-Tanzen 024] Mark-Henning // Yeah But No But EP (2005)
[Frankie 010] Mark-Henning // Final Snatch EP (2005)
[Freude-am-Tanzen 020] Mark-Henning // Business Class EP (2004)
[Minimood 05r] Shu Okuyama // Punkt (2008)
[EQG12040] Chris Fortier // Quote Unquote (2008)
[Adagio 02] Gaetano Parisio // Gomma (2008)
[Gumption 10] Matteo Spedicati // Il Fantasma Di Hobanubi (2007)
[Roman Photo 07] Pheek // Magda Had a Little Troll (2007)
[Luxaflex 14] Mr G // What Kinda (2007)
[Luxaflex 10] Boris Ross // Fusion (2007)
[Immigrant 29] Todd Bodine // Wake Up (2007)
[Clever 015] Gurtz // Doppel (2007)
[Phlegatek 03] bVoice & KHz // Radio Glitch (2006)
[Clever 013] Pheek // Magda Had a Little Troll (2006)
[Multivitamins 005] Den // Ode to DS (2006)
[Clever 012] Den // Ode to DS (2006)
[DOC 010] Aaron Hedges // One More Hour (2006)
[Mo's Ferry 018] Apendics Shuffle // Kick Down (2006)
[Clever 008] JPLS // Z-Program (2006)
[MilnorModern 013] Mark-Henning // Dime Bar (2007)
[MorrisAudioCitySport 035] Mark-Henning // Miss America (2007)
[Safari Electronique 015] Mark-Henning // Isla's Tune (2007)
[Unfoundsound 013] Mark-Henning // Booty Breakfast (2005)
[MilnorModern 005] Mark-Henning // Smlatter (2005)
[Unfoundsound 025] Mark-Henning // Motorrad Da Douch (2006)
[Multivitamins 001] Mark-Henning // Token Node (2006)
[Hippocamp 100] Mark-Henning // Spazz Jazz (2004)
[Fabric 38] MANDY - Fabric 38 CD (2008)
[Alphabet City] Karotte's Kitchen Vol 2 Mix CD (2007)
[TrapezCD 008] Triple R - Trapez Selection 5 Mix CD (2007)
[Minus 043] Magda - She's A Dancing Machine Mix Cd (2006)
[FATCD 001] V/A - Compilation 01