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Wednesday 10th, March 2004
Mark Norman

Mark Norman is fast becoming recognized as the latest in a long line of Dutch production maestros to take the scene by storm. These two young talented producers, Mark de Jong and Norman Lenden, joined BPM Dance in the year 2000. With releases on the Jinx and Silver Premium labels they had consistent support from the likes of Tiesto, Marco V and Armin van Buuren amongst others... One of their biggest releases yet, 'Overkill' was played by almost every artist and became a huge success! Also they reached several number 1 positions in the Dutch dance charts with releases such as 'Overkill', 'Total Seduction' and 'Faith'. Today they are releasing tracks like STARR – Sunstroke, Phantom Manor and remixing for Blank & Jones, etc. Mark Norman has recently signed a contract with DJ Tiesto’s ‘Blackhole Recordings’ and joins the team of quality top producers such as Olivier Lieb, Filterheadz, Mr Sam & Fred Baker. They aim to bring us more of the excellent productions we have already heard from them and follow in the footsteps of Tiesto himself. (Bio from the Mark Norman site)

How did you guys meet?
Mark: On high school already. We are both from Zoetermeer, we used to carry tapes around and listen to them. We also worked the same jobs during our high school.

What got you into this music?
Mark: We were there since it all started in the beginning of the 90s. You know, carrying around tapes, etc. At that time we didn’t have any serious equipment but later I bought the first Groovebox, the MC 303 and after that some more stuff. Our first tracks were made on Fast Tracker. We went around with our productions, like to Rhythm Imports in The Hague but they said it all was too melodic and too many different sounds. This was in 1999. They advised me to buy a compressor and that is what I did. After this I bought a mixer, effect module and also discovered Cubase. With this we could really start working on something. Shortly after this we were sitting around the table with BPM Dance and they listened to some of our productions. Their response was really great. I remember this was a Friday and Monday we got a call to come by to sign a contract with them! Splash and X Fader were the first tracks we released with them. Those were made on Fast Tracker.

Who was your inspiration at that time?
Mark: Enigma and also the productions found on the Forbidden Paradise CDs. Later Ferry Corsten released Out Of The Blue and that track really caught my attention.
I remember one of my dreams at that time was to have our own track figuring on one of those Forbidden Paradise CDs.

Last week you were in England. How was your gig in club Passion?
Norman: It was fantastic! We had heard already from Signum that the crowd is different then here in Holland. I have the feeling the people really come there for the music and to see the DJ.
Mark: Yes, and also for them it is not really important how you are dressed. They really do come to party. It is not so much about the ‘looks’.
N. Now I really understand why people talk about this English scene like this.

On Thursday 4th of March you had your first appearance on Armin’s A State Of Trance yesterday. After Ton TB’s set yours was really powerful.
Norman: Do you think so? I just like to play the real trance stuff right away.
Mark: Yes, I think you only need to build up when you are opening a party. People really come to dance, to party. Even on Trance Energy we really didn’t build up, on these kind of parties people come to move, to dance their ass off.

How do you DJ? Because there is two of you guys...
Mark: Norman is the DJ in our team. We have decided that it is like this from the beginning. Besides being a DJ we also have to produce tracks, remix and we both a have a job (3/4 days a week). If every weekend we both would have to go to a club to spin then that whole weekend can’t be used anymore for producing music.
Norman: I think it is pure efficiency. This doesn’t mean Mark has no influence whatsoever. Often he comes to me and advices or suggests me to listen to some records. And on the other hand if I am in the studio I do have suggestions from time to time about our productions, etc.

And are you always going to keep it that way?
Norman: Yes, this suits us very well. You could compare it a little to Rank1.
Mark: But in the future Mark Norman can do much more. Besides DJing you could think of live performances, co productions, etc. With the setup we have now we are very flexible.

Phantom Manor/Rush is getting a release on Blackhole Recordings (Magik Muzik) at the end of March. Where did you get your inspiration from for Phantom Manor, it’s very dark and gloomy...
Mark: Have you ever been to Disneyland Paris? You have an attraction over there that is called Phantom Manor. It is like a haunted house with mirrors on a hill. It is not scary really, it has this special atmosphere. That’s where we got the name from.

How far are you with remixing Smith & Pledger - Forever? Is your remix going to be very different from the Above & Beyond remix?
Mark: It’s finished now. We also liked the vocals a lot but wanted to give it something of us, ‘sign’ it Mark Norman. This why you will see something in the style off Rush. It kind off has that same ‘drive’.
Norman: It should be released in a month or so.

You are also remixing the new Blank & Jones...
Norman: Yes, the track is called The Mind Of The Wonderful. That track also had vocals in the original version. They asked us to make an instrumental version for it. We finished the track yesterday and mailed it back to them.

So, how does this usually goes with remixes?
Mark: Every time you have to modify something, they send it back. But that is normal, the record label wants to take out the maximum of that release. Once a record is pressed you can’t change anything to it anymore.

Your new project Alexander Gustaff – Sexmachine is planned for the first of March at US based Terra Trax Recordings. What can you tell more about this?
Norman: Yes, we had to come up with a new project name. We have STARR already and I was like “hey Mark, what’s your second name” and well, this is how it ended up. It’s just a combination of both our second names. We also have our manager, The Freak, who is trying to get the most record deals signed for us.

In Holland are you signed exclusively to Blackhole Recordings? Or can you also release on other lables?
Norman: Well we have of course this so called ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that everything we produce we take it first to Blackhole. But sometimes Blackhole thinks a production is too hard or doesn’t fit their style and then we can take it to someone else. This Terra Trax is a new American label and the style of the record is of course in our Mark Norman fitting.

How did you come in touch with Blackhole Recordings?
Norman: I used to organise parties in Leeuwarden, the city where I studied. One evening we had booked Tiesto to play there and that is also how I got hold of his email. This was long time ago, way before he got this famous he is now. When BPM Dance filed for bankrupcy we didn’t really know what to do. At that moment I decided to email Tiesto and ask if we could maybe do something for them. After we got in contact with them (begin 2003) we released Stream, Shine and Starr – Sunstroke on Blackhole Recordings.

Can you tell us something more about your forthcoming STARR project? Same style?
Norman: Yes we are working on something new. It is not finished yet. What we want to do with our STARR guise is produce real trance productions, in style of In Search Of Sunrise.
Mark: But maybe when it will be finished the sound will fit better with our Mark Norman project so for the moment all doors are still open.

You are mixing the new In Trance We Trust CD, a very expected compilation. What can you tell us more about it?
Norman: Blackhole asked us if we wanted to mix it. Well, that decision was quickly made.

How free were you when it comes to the tracks figuring on the CD?
Norman: We had enough independence actually to decide what we wanted on it. Of course some in house productions have to figure on it but for the rest we could pretty much choose the tracks. We also intended to keep the same kind of music that figure on the previous In Trance We Trust compilations. We mixed the CD yesterday and all I can say is that there are some really hot tracks on there! We can’t reveal the tracklist yet, I think Blackhole will announce it shortly after the Miami WMC. Of course one of our productions will be on it and some remixes. Phantom Manor... I really can’t tell you more now! Release date is set for April 19th.

Are you planning to release a solo album? When?
Norman: Well, we are thinking about it but now it’s still too early. We have enough tracks to fill the album but we have just finished this In Trance We Trust CD. You can’t release too many things at the same time. We want to coordinate this with Blackhole as well. If it will be released it won’t be before the end of this year.

How do you start producing a track? Is there a defined way you do that? First beats or melody? How do you do it?
Mark: Let me tell you that the most important thing in a production is the rhythm part. This is what will get the people moving. You can have the most beautiful strings and synths, melodies, etc but if the rhythm part is not well made then your track won’t last for long. Of course we can start working with a melody first but actually so many things do change during production stage.

Do you use software or hardware to produce?
Mark: The only real hardware we have now is a Roland MC 505, Roland MC 303, a Novation workstation, a Roland synth module, Akai S3000 sampler, a compressor, sfx module and a Mackie 32 Channel analog mixer. For the rest we do nearly everything on the computer. We use Cubase SX as our sequencer recorder. We also have many software synths programs.

Do you have top 3 tracks now?
1. Mojado Ft. Mr Sam - Naranja (Mr Sam Vision Mix)
2. Tiesto ft. BT – Love Comes Again (Mark Norman Remix)
3. Dréas pres. Havannah - Havannah

1. JOOP - Sonsuz
2. DJ Danjo & Rob Styles - Duende
3. The Freak – Rising Angel

Top 3 of all time?
1. Underworld – Born Slippy
2. Moonman – Don’t BE Afraid
3. Planet Perfecto – Bullet In The Gun

1. Chicane – Salt water
2. Paul van Dijk - Words
3. Andain – Beautiful Things (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)

Is there a DJ/artist you would like to cooperate in the future with?
Mark: I would like to work one day with maybe artist who don’t have a ‘dance’ background. I think that would be quite interesting.
Norman: Ferry Corsten or MIKE are two producers I would like to work with maybe one day.

Any examples you have in the music industry? Where (do) you get your inspiration from?
Mark: Enigma is someone who inspired me
Norman: Well, to be honest, look at Tiesto. If you look where this guy has come from, I think that is a really good example to follow.

Where do you think the dance scene will be going the coming years? A more harder style (hardstyle) like we have in Holland? This hardstyle scene is really growing here with more and more parties, even outnumbering big trance festivals.
Norman: No, I think hardstyle and hardcore have had its peak already. For me it seems people are looking forward to more ‘gezellige’ music. (This is hard to translate, the word means ‘cosy’. Probably music where everybody can have fun and there reigns a relaxed atmosphere, etc.).
Mark: It is so hard to say. Dance music changes so fast, something is ‘hot’ today but can be outdated tomorrow...

Are you married or do you have a girlfriend?
Mark: I have a girlfriend for 6 years and we live together for 3 years now. Esther has seen how we developed ourselves over the past 6 years, she is my source of inspiration. The studio is in our house, so she is always there to give her opinion.
Norman: I have a lovely girlfriend who is supporting me in everything I do! She is living in the other part of Holland.

Do you visit Trance.nu sometimes?
Norman: Yes, nearly every day. I think the site looks really smooth. It’s nice to check out the news, reviews, etc. I am not registered as a user but I do browse the forums sometimes.
Mark: Yes, it is very interesting and valuable for us to read what people think about our music. On this site we can get feedback very quickly on our productions.

Shout-out to your fans on Trance.nu?
Norman: First of all thank you all very much for the support. I hope you will continue to support us in the future. It gives us a lot of motivation to continue when we hear that people do value our music.
Mark: Be yourself, respect to one another.

Thank you very much for your time and good luck in the future!
Norman: You are welcome


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