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Saturday 01st, October 2005
Mark Norman (2005)

The award winning Dutch production and DJ duo Mark Norman are responsible for a series of high profile original productions and remixes. Dubbed by Tiësto as his hot prediction for the future at the 2003 Dutch DJ Awards, dance floor anthems such as 'Phantom Manor', 'Overkill', 'RUSH', 'Stream', 'Faith' and their latest release 'Teardrops', have assisted in their meteoric rise from hopefuls to fully fledged international artists in just over four years! Productions such as 'Sunstroke' and 'Summer Queen' under their 'STARR' alias, 'Sexmachine' as 'Alexander Gustaff' and 'Tomahawk' under the 'Silk' guise remain equally impressive with the definitive sound of each pseudonym a proven method for clubs and festivals alike. Whilst remaining the only artists to have polled at number one in the Dutch DJ Charts with every single release, Mark de Jong and Norman Lenden also remain one of only a select number of artists commissioned to mix the famous 'In Trance We Trust' series. Besides their production work, Mark Norman made some smashing remixes for artists and DJ's like Blank & Jones, Tiësto, Three Drives, Signum, Salt Lake, Joop and much more Behind the decks their unique driving tech trance provides an energetic and emotional atmosphere which has seen them rock the worlds leading festivals and events with performances at the legendary Trance Energy and Mysteryland festivals in Holland along with all the major clubs and prolific UK events including Passion, Slinky and Gatecrasher. Further a field Mark Norman have taken to the skies with performances in Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Lebanon, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA whilst highlights of last summer were a second Mysteryland performance and some parties at Ibiza's legendary Cream. On Thursday September 15, Trance.nu went to the studio of Mark Norman for an interview with Mark de Jong and Norman Lenden:

Trance.nu: How and when did you guys meet each other?
Norman: That was around 14 years ago when we were both at the junior school. Over there we already shared the passion for music with each other, so it was not a big surprise that we started to make music together.

Trance.nu: So at school you immediately decided also to make music together?
Mark: Well, not immediately, but since I had a keyboard and Norman had a keyboard as well, we decided to try out something together. Later on we bought some equipment like a Groovebox and after school we spend our time together in the studio making music. Till a certain moment people from our neighbourhood asked us if we wouldn’t do something more with the tracks we finished. From the moment we started to send out our demo’s, it all went very fast.

Trance.nu: And when did you guys released your first track?
Norman: In 2001 we released our first track, which was called‘Splash!’, on Smoke Records.

Trance.nu: What kind of job did you had before you started with producing music as a job?
Mark: Yes, after I graduated at the HTS I worked for 3 years as a project engineer. For now I’m busy fulltime with producing music. Before that I worked for 4 days a week, so in all our spare time we made music. Norman: I worked at the ‘HogeSchool’ in Leeuwarden as a teacher “media & entertainment management” for 4 days a week. But on a certain moment I had to choose between music and my regular job.

Trance.nu: So for how long are you busy fulltime with producing music?
Norman: Myself 9 months and Mark for 6 months.

Trance.nu: The new Mark Norman track ‘Teardrops / T34’ was just released at ‘In Trance We Trust’. How are the reactions on this one so far?
Mark: We did get very good reactions on it. It even became number one in the Dutch IDP Charts, so that’s very good! But on the other hand we saw on the internet forums that some people think that it’s not that good as tracks like ‘Phantom Manor’, but I think that ‘Phantom Manor’ is such a good track, which is very hard to exceed. But I’m convinced that ‘Teardrops’ is a good track!

Trance.nu: Which DJ’s are playing it already?
Mark: Armin van Buuren played both sides of the vinyl a few times in his radioshow ‘A State Of Trance’. Paul van Dyk also does support it a lot, it’s even on his new mixcompilation ‘The Politics Of Dancing 2’. For the rest DJ’s like Cosmic Gate, Eddie Halliwell, Mark Sherry etc. support the track.

Trance.nu: The Mark Norman debut album ‘Synchronicity’ is going to be released very soon. When can we expect the release of this double CD?
Norman: The album will be in stores on Monday September 26.

Trance.nu: Will there be a vinyl release of the album too?
Norman: Yes, there will be an album sampler of ‘Synchronicity’ as well.

Trance.nu: How long did it took you to finish the album?
Mark: In October 2004 we got the idea to make a Mark Norman album, so from that moment we were thinking about how to do it. But in February 2005 we started to work fulltime on the new tracks for the album. We already knew that we also wanted to put some older tracks on ‘Synchronicity’. So we worked for 6 months on the tracks for the new album.

Trance.nu: What is your personal favourite track of the album?
Norman: That’s the number 8 of the album, ‘Brasilia’. Number 1 is also great, but ‘Brasilia’ is just wicked. When you hear this party track you’ll get a good feeling. Plus it works very well on the dancefloor!
Mark: I also like number 1, ‘Fading Ground’, a lot. That one is just a beauty. But number 2, ‘Touch Down’ is my favourite party track. That one is a real bomb and it’s great when you see the reaction of the crowd on the dancefloor during this one, so ‘Touch Down’ is my choice.

Trance.nu: Since the album is finished, I wonder if you already started with new Mark Norman tracks that are not on the ‘Synchronicity’ album?
Norman: Yes, today we were working in the studio on some new things. We are just experimenting with some different and for us, new styles. But it’s not that we are busy with producing a new Mark Norman track. We will see what it’s going to be when it’s finished!

Trance.nu: You said ‘new styles’. What kind of ‘new styles’ do you mean?
Norman: Hmmm…. Difficult… Nowdays the house music is getting pretty popular again. What we try is to get that sound also in our tracks, mixed with our own sound. It’s not that we want to create a new style or change our style, but we are just curious what we can do with house music in our own music.

Trance.nu: Besides the ‘Mark Norman’ project, you both released tracks in the past under projectnames like ‘Starr’, ‘Silk’ and ‘Alexander Gustaff’. Can we expect new tracks for one of those projects in the near future?
Mark: I’m almost sure that we will release new tracks for one or more of our other projects, but it’s something that we decide when a track is finished. So it’s not that we start with: “Today we are going to make a new Silk”. We make a track and at the end we will see for what project it will be.

Trance.nu: Most of your productions are in the trance style. Can we expect you to release tracks in other styles? Like house or techno for example?
Mark: Well, Norman just said that we are busy at the moment with experimenting with other genres and styles. You see more and more that styles are chancing as well and even the so called ‘trance DJ’s’ can play house tracks as well in their sets. I think the same will happen with music productions. Like for example, trance sounds and melodies with a nice housebeat. Just as was done with a track like ‘Andain - Beautiful Things’. When you listen to that track… it’s a trance track, but with a poppy beat. I think that different styles get combined together more and more.
Norman: People that buy our tracks or come to the parties don’t want to hear the same things and sounds over and over again. So I think that it’s very important that we have to renew our sound and keep it fresh.

Trance.nu: In the past you guys did remixes for artists and acts like Tiësto, Signum, Blank & Jones, Salt Lake, Three Drives, Joop etc. Can we expect some new remixes soon?
Norman: We just finished a remix of ‘DJ Precision & Terry Bones - Another Situation’. For the Swiss DJ S.H.O.K.K. we also did a remix, so those 2 ones will see a release shortly. And we are also busy with a remix for a well known 80’s group, but we can’t tell you much about that yet…

Trance.nu: How long do you guys work on a production or remix?
Mark: Doing a remix is easier, since you get all the parts that you need. So a remix can be finished in only a few days. And for a track… that’s difficult to say; sometimes we finish a track in one week, but it can also be that it’s not even finish in 3 weeks. It depends on the track, so it’s different every time.

Trance.nu: What kind of equipment do you use in your studio?
Norman: We use a lot of software plug-ins, but also the ‘older’ kind of equipment like the Roland MC505 Groovebox, the Novation, a Mackie 32 channel mixer, an Avalon EQ compressor and a DBX compressor

Trance.nu: Do you use a Mac or PC for your productions?
Norman: We use a PC

Trance.nu: Do you prefer software or hardware?
Mark: Software. We work with Cubase SX and that works great. For the rest we use a lot of plug-ins like Pro 53, since that is one of the first plug-ins that we learned to work with. We also use other plug-ins for some sounds, but we have to rebuild the sounds with effects etc. And with hardware, we use the Avalon a lot since that one gives the sounds a very warm feeling. Especially with digital sounds which sound a bit too empty without any effects.

Trance.nu: Is the Avalon also your favourite part of hardware?
Mark: We don’t have it that long, but for now it’s definitely my favourite part of hardware in our studio. But we also work a lot with the Roland MC505. I think we use that one for over 6 years now. We used it with ‘Overkill’ as well.

Trance.nu: Since you are with 2 persons I’m wondering who does what in the studio during the production process?
Norman: I’m always behind the internet (laughs) and Mark does all the hard work. Haha! No, the creative things we do both. If someone of us has an idea we are going to work on that in the studio and listen how it sounds then. Mark is the one who does all the arrangements most of the time, so it can be that I’m not even in the studio then.

Trance.nu: In 2004 you guys mixed the 9th part in the popular ‘In Trance We Trust’ series. How was it too compile and mix an edition for a famous serie like ‘In Trance We Trust’?
Mark: That was great! A lot of well known names already did an edition for the ITWT series, so it was an honour to be asked for the number 9 edition. It was really a surprise for us to be asked for it. We were already happy that we were signed at Black Hole and that they wanted to release our stuff and that they did our DJ bookings. We never thought about remixing a compilation like ITWT. It was in the same period as our remix for Tiësto’s ‘Love Comes Again’ and now they even asked us to remix the 9th ITWT compilation! That was a very special moment for us for sure!

Trance.nu: Are there plans to release other mixcompilations in the future?
Norman: Yes, I think so. At the moment there are no plans, but I hope we can do some more in the future.

Trance.nu: When you guys are on the road with DJ-ing, you travel all around the world. What was your best memory with DJ-ing so far?
Mark: I’m not always travelling together with Norman while he is DJ-ing, but from the times I go with him it’s just for the fun and to hear new music! I have to say Passion in the UK and Beirut was also very special! That was very impressive.
Norman: True. Beirut was wicked! The atmosphere over there was wicked! What a party!

Trance.nu: So you guys don’t always go DJ-ing together?
Norman: In the beginning we always DJ-ed together, but after a few times we noticed that it doesn’t work. There’s always one person doing ‘nothing’ and for the rest it’s difficult to decide (when you are with 2 people) what track has to played next and stuff like that. So we decided that I’m the one who’s going to do the DJ gigs. But sometimes Mark joins me on my trips, but most of the times it’s me on my own.

Trance.nu: Are there any places or clubs where you have never been so far, but where you really would love to play?
Norman: Oh yes, I would love to play on a big festival in the UK , like Creamfields for example. And for the rest there are so many nice places on earth that I haven’t been to yet, so who knows!

Trance.nu: At the moment people can vote again for the DJ Mag Top 100 voting. What do you expect for this year?
Mark: That is very hard to say… In 2004 we were on a number 165 or something like that. I was already surprised that we were even on a position like that. So for this year I hope that we enter the Top 100. But we can only hope for that.

Trance.nu: What is your opinion about voting lists like the DJ Mag Top 100 and the Dutch DJ Awards for example?
Norman: I think that it’s more a popularity poll, instead of a ‘real’ ‘Who is the best DJ?’ poll. It’s very hard to decide who the best DJ is. Technically there are a lot of very good DJ’s, but do people really vote for that? In my opinion the DJ Mag Top 100 became the last few years something like a president election. Everybody is busy with a lot of marketing and extra promotion around the voting.

Trance.nu: What things you have done in music, make you really proud?
Mark: The Mark Norman album
Norman: For me too!

Trance.nu: Some short questions: What is your favourite track ever?
Norman: For me it’s ‘U2 - New Year’s Day’
Mark: I like a lot of U2 things as well, but for me it’s ‘Andain - Beautiful Things’ I think. I still play that one a lot in my car! That one is so beautiful!

Trance.nu: And your Top 3 of this moment?
Norman: ‘Mark Norman - Touch Down’, ‘Surge - Moonlight’ and ‘Marcel Woods - Advanced’.

Trance.nu: Do you guys check often on the internet to read reactions about your gigs, releases etc.?
Mark: Yes, we do. We also grew up with the internet. When our first records came out, there was internet, so it’s nice that you can check how people react on them. So we almost check all reviews etc. that we can find.

Trance.nu: What can we expect from you in the future?
Norman: I hope a lot of releases, albums and DJ gigs.

Trance.nu: Is there anything you would like to say to the people on Trance.nu?
Mark: It’s always nice to read all the reactions on the forums on our tracks and remixes. But I hope that the people are keep giving their honest opinion and that they not only reply if they don’t like something.

Trance.nu: Thank you both for your time and good luck in the future!
Mark & Norman: Thank you too!

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