Mark Sherry is a Tech Trance legend. An experienced and renowned DJ and producer for the last 20 years, Mark is on a one man mission to bring back the ‘old’ Tech Trance sound, reinvented for a new audience. He is such an easy-going and approachable person that when we started chatting backstage at the Together Festival recently, he was more than happy to have an interview right there and then:
TranceFixxed: Hi Mark, thanks for agreeing to this at short notice. You’re going to be on stage here at the Together Festival shortly – what can we expect?
Mark: I’m really looking forward to it, it’s good to be back in Wales again. I’m only on for one hour tonight, so I’m just gonna try and smash out all my new bits! I’ll try and cram as much as I can into 60 minutes. A few new originals, new remixes, a few bootlegs – we’ll see how it goes!
TranceFixxed: Speaking of new stuff, you’ve got a very special performance coming up, spanning the whole 20 years you’ve been producing. When is that?
Mark: Yeah, it’s my 20th anniversary of DJing this year so I’m doing am open-to-close 6 hour set at Toika in Toronto, Canada on Friday 13th June. I’ve been preparing so long for this, a full 6 months of preparation. I’ve basically been going through my whole record collection, my vinyl collection and my CD collection. I’ve been borrowing old CD singles from my friends, trying to dig through as much old / classic music as I can. Basically, from the early 1990s right up until the present day, so it’s been a really big job but I’m really looking forward to it. Will be an emotional one!!
TranceFixxed: Are you going to try and play your set in chronological order or are you going to mix it up a bit?
Mark: I’ve been thinking about this – should I start at the early 1990s and bring it up to the present day or should I chop around and mix the years – but I think it will be a chronological set. It will be an open-to-close set. When you walk into a club at 10pm, I will be on for the next 6 hours, so there’s no warm up DJs, there’s nobody else on, it’s just myself for the whole night. So I think I will start off at 1990 and play like a few mellow and more Progressive tracks like Gat Decor – Passion, a few real old school classics, then move onto the harder stuff. Then eventually picking up the pace, I’ll probably go into the 140 gear for the end bringing it back up to present day. Yeah, I think it’s going to be chronological, pretty much.
TranceFixxed: Have you got any new releases planned or something to celebrate 20 years of Mark Sherry?
Mark: I’ve actually started a bootleg remix of an old track. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I started it with Indecent Noise when we spent a bit of time together in Melbourne on a recent Australian tour. It was a track that was originally released in 1992, a really old school acid track that I love to bits. I spoke to Alex about it and he really liked it as well. I don’t actually think that Alex had ever heard it before so it was quite an eye opener for him! So that will probably be a bootleg remix.
As far as old school stuff goes, my new single ‘Feel So Right’ is a cover version of ‘Love 4 Sale’ and it was originally released in 1994, so that’s basically celebrating 20 years! That’s out just now on Mental Asylum. You’ve got the Original Mix and also the Sam Jones Remix… he’s done a really great job for us!
Keeping an Open Mind
TranceFixxed: Doing a ‘Producers Set’ like that, predominantly all your own stuff – Is it any harder or easier than doing a regular set where you have carte blanche to do whatever you like?
Mark: Just to clear it up, it’s not going to be an out-and-out producers set, it will basically be 20 years of dance music. I will be playing a lot of my old stuff. I used to make happy hardcore back in the days! I might throw in some of that stuff… it depends on the crowd as well. I’m a bit older than some of the clubbers that are going to be there! Quite recently I put a post up on Facebook asking the people of Toronto how far back they think I should go and they said they basically want to hear everything I’ve been influenced by in the last 20 years, so I’m basically going right back to the start 1990s. I’m just going to play as if I’m playing to guys my own age and guys that have been in the dance scene for as long as I have. Hopefully the clubbers will be open minded and into it as much as I have been over the years!
TranceFixxed: Having been producing music for 20 years, is there a favourite period that you look back on?
Mark: For me I honestly I couldn’t decide on that at all. If I didn’t enjoy it now as much as I did back in the beginning, I would have probably moved onto doing something else by now. I’ve got as much passion for it now – if not more – as I had right at the beginning. I was only 19 when I first started DJing. I saved up and bought my first set of decks when I was 15! I’ve been in it for a long time and I’ve still got so much passion for it. There hasn’t been any particular favourite year / era for me to be honest.
Obviously I was blown away by bands and DJs back in the day like The Prodigy, Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong. They were all a huge influence and blew my mind back when I was a teenager! But I’ve definitely got as much enthusiasm now as I did back in the day!
TranceFixxed: So here’s to the next 20 years!
Mark: Exactly! Maybe 10 years… lets not get carried away!
TranceFixxed: Well 20 years is a milestone beyond which many producers get to, so congratulations!
Mark: Thanks a lot!
On the Road
TranceFixxed: Have you been on the road much recently, been travelling?
Mark: Yeah, the past few weeks have been pretty crazy to be honest! Last week I was in Slovakia; I played in Bratislava a night called Ear-Gasmic. The weekend before that, I played an an event in Ottawa, Canada. This weekend I’m obviously in Wales; I was in Sweden two days ago with Cosmic Gate, Lange and Sean Tyas on the ‘Monday Bar’ cruise which went from Stockholm to Riga in Latvia.
I’m off next weekend, which is the first weekend I will have had off this year! Then I’ve got the #TWENTY gig in Toronto on the 13th June. The day after on the 14th I’ve got my debut gig in New York at Esscala, so that will be a really amazing weekend.
In July, I’m playing at the Electronic Family event in Amsterdam with Armin and others… and then I’m at Luminosity in the Netherlands and Subculture with John O’Callaghan at Mandarine in Buenos Aires, Argentina… busy times!
TranceFixxed: Any stand out memories from your recent travels?
Mark: Playing at A State of Trance 600 last year was incredible! That has to be right up there, you can’t really get any better than that! Playing at these big branded events; it’s always a privilege playing for Armin and his team, so that was one of the best things I’ve done recently. Closely followed by playing my first event for Ultra in Buenos Aires in Argentina, playing on Ferry Corsten’s ‘Full On Ferry’ stage!
TranceFixxed: You’ve mentioned that you will be playing some new stuff tonight. What new releases have you got coming up that you can let us know about?
Mark: I’ve been really busy in the studio recently remixing ‘The Evil ID’ for Max Graham, ‘Brilliant People’ for Giuseppe Ottaviani and Aly & Fila, and also ‘Atkinsane’ for Will Atkinson which is coming out on Jordan Suckley’s Damaged Records on 16th June. I’m also currently remixing something for Markus Schulz which is a huge buzz for me! I’ve got a few new things that I can’t really tell you about yet, but I’m basically about to launch my first record label called Outburst Records and for that I’ve got 3 new singles almost ready and lined up, including a new vocal single with the amazing Clare Stagg and also ‘Live & Learn’ 2014 remixes by Joint Operations Centre (John O’Callaghan) and Alex Di Stefano. So loads of new stuff coming out!
TranceFixxed: Having been a music producer for 20 years, where do you get your inspiration from to keep going, to find these new ideas?
Mark: To be honest I feel like I’m just finding myself now as a producer, I’m not going to go back the way too much but I have been listening to a lot of the older stuff to get influences and try and pull some old ideas kicking and screaming into 2014 with a new twist, sounds that the new scene are desperately missing. The whole point of me launching my own label is to try and bring back some of these old Tech Trance sounds! The whole ‘EDM’ House thing has blown up big time, but I reckon it’s nearly had it’s time already. It’s gone so massive so fast that it’s about to implode! So for me, launching a new label, trying to bring back the old sound but with a new twist is a very exciting project for me. Trying to bring back some of the old stuff like BXR, Mauro Picotto, Marco V, Marcel Woods.
I’ll be playing one of Marcel’s classics tonight since he has just announced that he’s retiring. His old stuff like ‘Cherry Blossom’, ‘Advanced’, ‘Lemon Tree’, all the big classics that he did, I suppose I’m going to try and bring back some of the essence of that style of Tech Trance again. Some of the stuff I’ve done recently like my remixes of ‘Poltergeist’ by Indecent Noise and ‘Brilliant People’ by Aly & Fila and Giuseppe etc were inspired by the old BXR sound, so I’m just trying to keep the whole thing moving forward, but by like dipping into the past to take it into the future!
TranceFixxed: So how did you get into Trance in the beginning?
Mark: I’ve been into Trance since back in the day. I used to go to a club called ‘Hanger 13’ around ’93-’94 in my local town of Ayr, when there was loads of really underground and forward thinking Trance kicking about. Back then there was also a big Italian Trance scene which I was really inspired by. Tracks like Transformer 2 ‘Pacific Symphony’, Jam & Spoon ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Stella’, ‘Age of Love’ etc etc…that is REAL Trance!
I’ve been influenced by other genres as well over the years, like Acid House and Techno. It all continues to influence what I do today.
TranceFixxed: Are you from a musical background originally?
Mark: I’m not actually! The only connection my family has to music is that my Mum has a fascination with drums. She loves the big carnival drums, South American drums, military drums. I’m fascinated with them as well, which has probably been passed down to me. My family ask me “Where did you get this from? We’ve not influenced you musically, so it’s not from us!”
My Mum and Dad are not musical at all, but one thing that I’m really grateful for is that they sent me to piano lessons when I was 7 years old. Before one of my lessons, my piano teacher had bought a black Yamaha keyboard which was sitting in the corner when I arrived with all these flashing lights and my reaction was “What the hell is that? I want a go!” Soon after that I stopped piano lessons and moved into keyboard lessons and I think I learned 5 or 6 grades of keyboard books. That was big turning point for me.
I really became fascinated with digital sounds and synthesizers, and that was another big change in my life. It was the genesis of things to come. It was later on, when I was about 18 years old, that I moved into music production for the first time.
TranceFixxed: Do you think that being able to play a musical instrument like a piano or a guitar helps to be able to produce Trance music?
Mark: I think it’s a string to your bow. If you’ve never learned how to play music it doesn’t stop you from making music, but it does help. I’m not a musical genius, but I know my chords. The main thing for me is that I know what works. I know what melodies work with each other, I know what chords work, how to arrange a vocal but I’m certainly not a musical genius! I think that it does definitely does help to have a basic (musical) background, but it’s not essential.
A lot of the more techy stuff I record is all very groove based and very percussive, where as the more uplifting stuff is more melodic and very musical, which I don’t really do a lot of. But I think I know enough about music and enough about chords to make a good breakdown that is really going to pull your heart strings and pull you in as a clubber.
TranceFixxed: What’s your favourite song of 2014 so far?
Mark: I’ve got to say a big, massive respect to Darren Porter for ‘Terraforming’. It’s such a beautiful track, it’s really hard to beat. The production, the chords, the emotion, it’s drive, the percussion, the baseline – everything is perfect! It’s a track I’ve played in the most of my sets recently, it’s a really difficult one to beat.
TranceFixxed: Do you have a message to your fans to finish up?
Mark: Just to say a massive thanks for all of your support. There’s a lot of guys out there who have been supporting me for 20 years! I know that’s hard to believe. Hopefully they will keep following and supporting everything I do, whether its for my record label or turning up at my gigs, buying my new releases or supporting my remixes. It’s really important to me and hugely appreciated. Basically, thanks a lot to everybody that’s followed everything I’ve done over the last few years.
TranceFixxed: Thanks Marc, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Mark: Thanks a lot for the interview.
Shortly after his #TWENTY performance at Toronto on 13th June, Mark shared the following on Facebook:
” I had one of the best an most enjoyable gigs of my career last night at #TWENTY in Toronto with Ozmozis!! The club was full from start to finish and you were all as open-minded as i hoped you’d be!!
Getting huge crowd cheers in the first hour to tracks like the 126bpm Technotronic ‘Pump Up the Jam’ an then later on to the 150 bpm Legend B ‘Lost In Love’ and on to the original mix of Jens ‘Loops n Tings’..an the 160bpm classic Jam & Spoon ‘Follow Me’!! The genre and tempo rule book was completely shredded up by us all and we proved that it means nothing when you have a room full of music loving mentalists under the one roof!! With some of the really old tracks I’ve never actually played them out in a club before too, cos when I first bought them on vinyl years ago I was a bedroom DJ, it was so cool being able to play them out to an amazing crowd! :)Solarstone ‘Seven Cities’ had me in full blown tears at one point an those of you down the front know that I’m not lying, was such an emotional night for me!!
Massive thanks to Oz, Raz, Paige and all the Ozmozis crew who are some of the nicest an most professional promoters that I work for, they deserve everything they achieve in Toronto!!
Thanks for making an old raver/DJ like myself an extremely happy man, I couldn’t have wished for a better 20th anniversary party!!! “
Here is a recording of his full 6 hour performance – Enjoy!
Mark Sherry Live at Together Festival 2014
TranceFixxed Meets Mark Sherry
Mark Sherry Website – marksherry.net
Mark Sherry Facebook – facebook.com/marksherrydj
Mark Sherry Twitter – @marksherry
Mark Sherry Soundcloud – soundcloud.com/marksherry
Outburst Records – facebook.com/outburstrecords
Together Festival – www.togetherfestival.co.uk