Where are you based?Stockholm, Sweden.
Is this your home town?It’s where I live, I still don’t know if it’s home.
What brought you to Sweden? How long have you been there?Love & music. But basically I had nowhere to live in London and it seemed like circumstances were pulling me here. That was ’97.
What is your first musical memory?Hearing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” on the top deck of a bus to my aunt`s house. It’s so ridiculous that it stuck in my head.
What was the first record you bought?Cassettes first, I think it was “Outlandos d’Amour” by The Police. First single was most likely something on Two Tone, “Tears of a Clown” or “Message to you Rudy”.
It seems a few of us (so far me, Max Essa, Chris Galloway, you) have started out with Two Tone. Because of where I grew up I quickly went to Reggae and Scientist LPs, where did you go next from the Ska revival?Yeah, what a great place to start. I got big into The Jam from there myself but started listening to all sorts of stuff until I was about 16, left school and then really focused in on Soul & dance.
What was the last record you bought?Just yesterday I bought 150 records from a store here that was closing down. Best from that was a Joe Coleman.
How did you end up buying and selling records? How often do you go on buying trips? And where do you go? Yozo from EAD told me that it is getting harder and harder to find interesting stuff in the US.I had two mates whose dads both worked for BA, so during the rare groove days we’d pool our money for them to go buy records for us in LA. I think that’s what made it seem possible, free flights!
The first buying trip I went on myself was to Spain. I was talking to a mate upstairs at Shoom at Busby’s and it just hit us that we’d never find the tunes we needed at Trax, three deep from the counter! So we went to Barcelona and went around all the labels.
Now I go to the U.S. four or five times a year, mostly to the East. Yozo ain’t lying! It’s a tough racket, but that’s as much to do with the way the business has changed as a lack of records.
In what way has the business changed?I mean the impact that the internet’s had on the game, and everything for that matter. It’s all out there to search through, if that’s the way you wanna go.
What inspired you to start DJing / making music / the label?Going out and dancing inspired me to start DJing. As soon as I started going out, I had that thought in mind “I’m a DJ”. It’s a little harder to remember my motivation for making music. I think I just realised that it was possible, and affordable. And from day one I’ve been releasing stuff on my own, so that came as soon as I had something I was half-pleased with.
Where would you have been going out and what would you have been dancing to?Delirium at the Astoria with Noel and Maurice Watson; Dingwalls in Camden; a night that Norman Jay & Jasper ran on a Sunday out in Chertsey. It was a mix of Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop but House music was already creeping in when I started going out. Jazzy M was doing the Saturday nights at the spot in Chertsey.
How long have you been DJing / making music / running the label?DJing since ’87, maybe late ’86 and making music since say 1991. Running a label on and off since 1992, but right now, Parkway & its offshoot Parkwest are babies.
Can you remember your first gig? What kind of music you were playing?I’m not sure but I think it was for a wedding party above a pub on Hammersmith Broadway. I remember I played a House record and this big lump goes “PLAY SOME FUCKING FUNK YOU CUNT!” I slipped off!
How about your early productions? I`m just curious to know if I own any of them. There was that boot of the Ethereal Beat cover of Rennaisance, was that you? with your track on the other side?No, that was Floppy House on the B-side, one of those crazy Italian scream-ups. My mate put that out. The first production of mine that I released was a two track 12inch, “Sensory Delight” b/w “Journey into Rhythm.”
Discogs has a load of Techno releases listed under the name Mark Seven, dating from 1998. That`s not you is it? Do you do Techno?It is and I did! During the 90’s when everyone had moved from the acid house scene into that big beat shit I went from Balearic into space and got more and more into Techno. I’d made a 12inch for Dave Angel under the name “Point Zero” then later one under my name and during that time a ran a label releasing as “Spira.”
Dave always used to begin by pitching the decks up to +16 and I got into this furious speed and energy thing through him, Mills and others. But Then techno became this super-compressed, tracky stuff where the only lift was a closed hat after 3 minutes. It was new, exciting and really creative for a while but I felt like it hit a dead end.
This really surprised me, Mark. I`d have never had you down as going the Techno route. From the parties I used to go to, like Flying at the Soho Theatre, the crowd did eventually split, one side containing people like Glen Gunner championing a Disco revival, the other following Weatherall into a Techno black hole. Did you ever DJ Techno sets? Did you go to parties like Steve Bicknell`s “Lost”?A lot of what came post-Acid House in London was about “having it large” and this sort of “cheeky, lads, oi oi saveloy” banter, I couldn’t be doing with. Musically there was some proper nonsense as well. It was around that time that I got to know Angel and his attitude and spirit were very inspiring. Plus it led me to discover some incredible music. Andrew obviously went in a similar direction, but I wouldn’t say his choices impacted mine by then, although they undoubtedly had earlier. At the time it felt like any decent fellow would go the same way.
I`m also curious if and for how long you succumbed to playing “Balearic?” When I`ve heard you play the music is very similar to stuff I might play, still taping that pre and early House thing but much more soulful. Say Street Wise rather than Factory.You mean back in the day or now? Back in the day that was the sound. I had a residency for a while for Tommy Mac in Maidenhead and while out in the main room the teds wanted to hear Royal House yet again, I was playing YMO and the Waterboys to friends in the back room. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but it’s always been the same way, a mainstream and smaller, tighter scenes.
Now? I don’t even think about it in those terms anymore, “Balearic” or not?! It’s more of an attitude that stuck with me towards playing whatever I feel. My love for all this comes from dancing, and that’s why it’s lead me back to the sound you mention, technology and black musicians came together to make the perfect music to move you.
Also we talked ages ago, as you were building the stock in the shop, and the Balearic Beat was undergoing a 20 year anniversary fanfare, that you were making a conscious effort to move away from that. What are your thoughts on “Balearic” now? Confined to nostalgia? A musical dead end?Like I say, it was a hugely important jump to make back then and that spirit has stuck with me. But when I started to see guys in local bars run “Balearic” nights playing the Cure on a shit system, I felt like something got lost in translation.
I still order Pop tat from you and I bet you sigh and shake your head when the orders come through. Are there many people still “collecting” this stuff?It’s not like that, I learned never to judge what someone else is buying. They’re all great tunes anyhow and a classic will always conjure up emotions in you. And anyhow, the guy buying “Let No Man Put Asunder” might well have a reggae collection to kill for.
I `m wondering if you`ve always played Soul music and variants there of?Pretty much. It’s all music for the soul anyhow.
How would you describe your sound / the label`s sound?Tricky. OK, my basic roots are in raw and emotional House and disco but whatever gets the job done is fine with me. As for Parkway, when I started to think about it maybe 18 months ago I was hearing so much introspective and chill stuff and I wanted to get back to that joy of pure Dance music. It’s mostly inspired by that time post Disco when the electronics were just more affordable and the music went back underground. At that time there was this explosion of creativity. Parkwest is the House side of that.
Can you give me an example of what you would call a “raw and emotional” House record? A “raw and emotional” Disco track?How about anything by Terrance Parker? Or “Angel of Mercy” by Metro? That’s what I mean, raw as in straight to the heart, goosebumps, the spirit, the whole bit.
Which production / release / remix are you most proud of?I’m very rarely satisfied `cos I’m something of a perfectionist and my records are a long way from perfect. “Pillow Talk” I still like actually, but I’m kicking off Parkwest by releasing something by Librah that I really like.
“Europa” never leaves my box. Did that track take a long time to make?All my tunes take me ages, I’m just not a fast worker! That one began as an edit of a drum section from a track by a fella name of Marc-Z. By the time I added the music, I realised the original loop sounded flat so I re-programmed the drums too. The whole way through I kept trying to channel The Police when they were massive and recording in studios in the tropics.
Which production / release / remix would you most like to have done?If I’d done them they wouldn’t mean as much to me. The process of making music quite often destroys the magic I think.
Weatherall said exactly the same thing in the recent interview with Sherwood on BBC 6.He’s a wise man.
What are your favourite places to play / hang out in?Small, private parties are ALWAYS the best. Intimate, a real sense of communion. You can’t beat that.
Do you get to DJ a lot at the moment? Locally? Globally?Not as much as I’d like, no. I like to think it’s a symptom of the times: there’s always some new stud with a hot 12inch, a laptop and 5,000 followers on Facebook. Cos it’s either that or I’m just shit!
What`s on your rider? Do you have certain sound requirements that have to be met before you commit to a gig?It’s not specifics, but I talk to the promoters first and get an idea of their motivation. One of the upsides to not being so present in the mainstream is that when people DO book you, it’s because they get what you do and with that they probably care. Which helps.
What is your favourite place outside of a bar / club / record shop?A beach, maybe Costa Rica…or possibly just a great pub with friends.
Costa Rica`s a surfing hot spot, with great coastlines on both sides. Do you surf?Very badly, very occasionally.
Do you see yourself as part of any scene?Hahaha. No
No one at all you feel allied with?There are people out there I love and respect sure, people like Sadar, Hunee and many, many more. But I’ve always used the feeling of being in a team of one as a motivating force.
Who does the your artwork?Usually I do.
The artwork on the aforementioned “Europa / Travelogue” 12 was amazing. Is that your work? Would you go to those lengths again?Cheers. I don’t know if I’d do exactly that again – I bought blank sleeves in the U.K., shipped them to Sweden, two-colour screen printed them and shipped them back. Ridiculous! Recently there’s been so much limited edition, coloured vinyl, hand-screened & numbered bollocks that my sense is to go back to basics.
Is a visual identity important?To me, yes. But I get a real buzz out of creating a product anyway and creating a complete atmosphere around whatever I’m working on. I love the details.
I`ve noticed that, what with the “Midnite Special” press package and also the CDs you used to put out, like “Meanwhile….A subtle Discolation From The Norm”. It must take you an age to get something ready for release.I’m borderline insane when you step back from it. I don’t know how anyone could justify spending so much time on these little details that don’t bring in any money. Maybe that is the answer… I’m not making any money out of it anyway so I just have to enjoy the process.
How does this reflect your own likes / inspirations?It’s not so much that I enjoy slick or fancy packaging, but what I like with records and collecting I love it when you find a piece with a letter from the label, a reaction sheet or a sticker or something. I love that shit, I don’t know why. It just makes the whole experience, with the music as well, something more. Maybe that’s just the record nerd in me.
It`s about history I think. Secret Knowledge. The details again. Which artists are you currently working with?I’m trying to finish off a tune I worked on with Boyd Jarvis for Parkway and I’m currently tying up some vocals for Parkwest with my man André in London.
How did you hook up with Boyd Jarvis? Who is Andre?I hooked up with Boyd thru my good friend, the lovely Ms Byrd, housemother from NJ! Now she’s HOUSE! Andre is a vocalist friend from London, I’m hoping to get him over here in the next months.
Who would you most like to work with?Well, Boyd’s up there. Maybe Paul Simpson or Winston Jones, but there’s loads. Can I have Chaka?
Someone else (Stevie Kotey) has already “had” Chaka, but I guess you can share. Is Paul Simpson still making music? Again “Use Me Lose Me” and Sleeque are never far from reach. I also have a real big soft spot for “Music Freedom”. “Heavy Vibes”? Wow!That first version of “Musical Freedom” before Adeva… phew! That Barbara Roy “Gotta See You”? “You Don’t Know”? If the brother never makes another record he’s earned his spot.
Does playing and making music pay the rent?Nope. Not the way I do it.
What sites, if any, do you regularly check on-line?I don’t know, you start by checking the football results over breakfast then before you know it you’re looking through vintage gay porn or the disappearing deli’s of NY… then it’s time for lunch!
What was the last book you read?“Curious George makes Pancakes” out loud.
What is your favourite book?“The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler is the one I’ve read most often.
What was the last film you saw?At the cinema? “Tree of Life” I’ve been busy!
Did you like “Tree Of Life”? I watched it at home and could have switched it off in the first 10 minutes, but sticking with the whole thing it did actually really move me. It has stayed with me.All through it I was thinking “Naah” but then it ended and I felt different. It hit me too.
What is your favourite film?Take your pick between “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Being There”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Blue Velvet” and “2001”
I can`t watch “Cuckoo`s Nest”, it upsets me too much.That’s probably the one right there. Everything in there, pure humanity.
What is your favourite piece of music? If that`s too difficult, what`s your current favourite piece of music?If I have to choose then make it something heavy on emotion like “Aerial Boundries” or maybe “Love & Affection.” “Adagio for Strings” always gets me too.
Can you name three records to chill to?Yes I can.
Can you name three records to start a party?Yes, I could do this too.