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Sunday 23rd, October 2005
Mark Otten

From an early age on Mark Otten (04-08-1978) practiced and performed with various bands and workshops. House music captured his attention from the start and a synthesizer allowed him the chance to start recording songs. Soon after, he found new possibilities using the computer for producing and quickly became an expert in this field as well. His first break-through took place at a high-school gig where he was discovered by a Sony producer. This quickly lead to several early releases with a techno edge. He rapidly got ready to conquer the scene with his first love: melodic and emotional music, this time in the form of trance with a progressive drive. His creativity and talent were immediately noticed, as the internationally acclaimed DJ Armin van Buuren started spinning his instant classic, 'Mushroom Therapy'. Furthermore, 'Mushroom Therapy' was signed to Armin's personal label, Armada's Armind imprint. And, as if this wasn't enough, Tiësto's label Black Hole became involved with Mark by releasing the massive 'Inner Warmth' under Mark's 'Lightscape' guise. In a few weeks Mark will release his new track 'So Serene' on the Armind label. With new tracks constantly coming up in multiple successful projects, as well as new experiments in other genres, Mark Otten is one of the most prestigious and talented young European producers out there. His work can be heard on numerous compilations as well as collaborations with other artists. Top DJ's such as Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, Above & Beyond, Blank & Jones and of course Armin van Buuren and Tiësto have all supported Mark's work. Albums containing his material have been released within the United States, Europe and from Africa to Australia. Be assured Mark Otten will be featuring more fantastic music!

Trance.nu: Your track ‘Mushroom Therapy’ saw a release in December 2003 on the Armada label ‘Armind’. The track was released under your own name, Mark Otten. How were the reactions on this release?
Mark Otten: Armin van Buuren started to play ‘Mushroom Therapy’ first. That came as a big surprise to me! Though I knew that Armin already had the track and that he liked it: I sent ‘Mushroom Therapy’ as a demo and Armin gave me a very positive reaction. But him playing it in his sets, that came as a big surprise! On the internet I by accident found the tracklisting of Armin’s ‘Essential Mix’ for BBC Radio 1. And there I saw that he played ‘Mushroom Therapy’ as the first track in this mix. It was playlisted over there as ‘Mark Otten - Mushroom Therapy’. That was pretty funny, since I didn’t have the intention at all to release it under the ‘Mark Otten’ name. It was great to see people write about the track on the various internet forums etc. The reactions were simply amazing!


Trance.nu: So from that moment on, you also decided to release it under your own name?
Mark Otten: I thought: A better promotion than having my track played by Armin van Buuren in an ‘Essential Mix’ is almost impossible, so from that moment I decided to release it under ‘Mark Otten’.


Trance.nu: Was this also your first release ever?
Mark Otten: No. In the past I had a sort of a ‘mentor’, somebody who has taught me a lot about producing music. When I was going to high-school we worked together on my tracks in the studio. In the early days I didn’t have that much equipment, it was in the time before the big ‘software revolution’. We started producing tracks in a style that you can compare with hardhouse. On the Digidance label we released some of those tracks. In the meantime I was already busy with producing some more melodic stuff, but at that time, that was more difficult. So my first releases were all a bit harder than the tracks I do nowadays.


Trance.nu: And what are the names of those older tracks?
Mark Otten: My first release ever was a remix called ‘Keros - Are You Ready (Marmann Remix)’, which was released early 2000 on Front, a sublabel of Digidance. That was a real trance track, but we made a techno based remix of it. The second one was ‘Mr. Controller - Mr. Controller’ in the summer of 2000. This one even came in the charts, that was pretty funny. The third one was released a year later in 2001. This one was called ‘Gomorra - Me Siento Genial’. That track is pretty hard, it even came on the Sensation Black album of 2001.


Trance.nu: After ‘Mushroom Therapy’, the second Mark Otten release saw the light in April 2004. The track ‘Tranquility’ also was released on ‘Armind’. I’ve heard that we can expect the third Mark Otten track ‘So Serene’ pretty soon. What can you tell us already about that one?
Mark Otten: Yeah, it was very unclear for a long time what would happen with this one, but finally I can announce that ‘So Serene’ will be the third Mark Otten track! Armin van Buuren and Markus Schulz both have played the track already in their sets. Menno de Jong recently finished a great remix for the B-side and as far as I can see now, the vinyl will see a release on ‘Armind’ in December of this year.


Trance.nu: Do you already have plans to release a Mark Otten album in the future?
Mark Otten: People asked me this question before in the past. I really would love to do an album. But for now I don’t think that it’s smart to already start working on an album, before a record company even asked me to make one. Doing an album is not just something that you can do in a rush. So if I’m going to do an album, I am really going for it and then I want to have a perfect album. For example, I would hire a professional studio to make everything sound exactly the way I want it to sound. There would have to be a budget to make it all possible, also because it would take up a lot of time. So far I haven’t been asked by a record company to make an album, so I’m not busy with producing tracks for an album yet…


Trance.nu: Besides the Mark Otten tracks, you also release tracks under project names like ‘Lightscape’ (Black Hole) and ‘Rio Addicts’ (Electronic Elements). Can we expect a release from one of those projects in the near future?
Mark Otten: Absolutely, the projects you just named, ‘Mark Otten’, ‘Lightscape’ and ‘Rio Addicts’, are my 3 most important projects. I really want to focus on those 3 in the future. I was thinking myself to maybe make a remix first under the ‘Rio Addicts’ name before I’m going to release a new track for that project. But I’ll see what’s going to happen. At the moment I’m busy in the studio, as always trying new things, also some other styles of music. When I feel the need to make a pop track or an R&B track with a female singer for example, I want to be able to make those tracks too. But that means it takes longer for me to finish a follow up for ‘Lightscape’ or ‘Rio Addicts’. But there are plans for sure to do a follow up for both projects, however at the moment I really can not tell you when to expect them…


Trance.nu: Where do you get your inspiration from, when you are busy with producing in your studio?
Mark Otten: For one, I’ll get my influences from other dance music. But since I have a very wide musical taste, I like to listen a lot to other styles of music as well. I think I can say that I listen more to other music than dance music at the moment. So I’ll get my inspiration from all kinds of music. But not only from music, it can be everything, for example, when something happens in my life or after a good party when I’m driving back home in my car. Then I can have ideas in my head that I want to work out in the studio.


Trance.nu: How would you describe your own music?
Mark Otten: Melodic, atmospheric, progressive trance


Trance.nu: Do you always work on your own in the studio?
Mark Otten: No, I did some collaborations in the past. Now I’m busy looking if I can do something together in the studio for the future. Sometimes I try to do something together with another producer, but I personally have the feeling that I do work best on my own for this kind of music. Regarding my experiences in the past, it’s a fact that the tracks that I made on my own became the most successful to be honest. But I’m not always working alone. For the ‘Halifax’ project for example, I do work together with Frans van der Boom.


Trance.nu: So can we expect some collaborations with other producers?
Mark Otten: Like I just said, I’m busy with it and I have to say that I can’t complain when it comes to people who want to work with me. On the other hand it’s very hard to find the time for that at the moment. But I think you can expect some collaborations with other people in the near future. It’s a bit difficult for me to give names before we even finished a track. People are going to expect things and what if it doesn’t work out? It wouldn’t be the first time that something like that happens. Maybe if we’re together in the studio we think it’s funnier to talk about the movie of last night, instead of producing music for example. So no names yet wink


Trance.nu: Are there any vocalists that you would like to work with for a track?
Mark Otten: Oow… that’s a good one! Absolutely! I’m very charmed of the work on the American Nettwerk label. Sarah McLachlan has a brilliant voice! I think I find her the best female singer in the world. If I was only asked to remix a track of her, I would be very honoured! There are a lot of interesting voices around. Most of the time I think that male voices are more interesting then female voices, but if I have to choose, it would be Sarah McLachlan for sure!


Trance.nu: And if you had to name a male vocalist as well?
Mark Otten: That is very difficult, but men with a more raw sounding voice like Bryan Adams are really cool in my opinion.


Trance.nu: In a few of your productions we can hear influences of guitarsounds. Do you use real guitars for it, or do you use software for it?
Mark Otten: I play real guitars. It’s not that I want to use real guitars always, but in the tracks that people might know so far, I always used real guitars. I play guitar myself and also piano, but from origin I used to be a drummer. While making music, it’s the most fun for me if I can use all those influences in combination with the computer.


Trance.nu: What kind of equipment do you use in your studio?
Mark Otten: I work both with software and hardware. I have a real drum kit, some guitars, a bass guitar and a lot of software which all works on Cubase. For the rest I have some hardware stuff like some synthesizers, a channel mixer and some other stuff.


Trance.nu: Do you prefer hardware of software?
Mark Otten: Both. The combination of both is the best. I must admit that I’m surprised by the amount of high quality software packages that are coming out nowadays! So sometimes I think that I won’t be buying new hardware synthesizers that quickly. But… I can’t imagine myself working without a hardware synthesizer. I really like to work with the Virus C for example.


Trance.nu: Are you a full time producer?
Mark Otten: I’m studying. I’m busy with the last bits of my study “Technische Bedrijfskunde” (Technical Business Engineering) at the Technical University in Eindhoven. I’m producing part time, but I must say that I would love to do it full time in the future. So there is a big chance that I’m going to try to go for it after finishing my study. I think it will be hard, but I’m gonna try it nevertheless!


Trance.nu: How can you combine your study and your work as producer?
Mark Otten: It’s very difficult to be honest. Especially since I’m almost at the end of my study, the next couple of months will be very busy for me. So that’s also why it’s sometimes hard to already give dates for new tracks etc. At this moment I have to focus on finishing my study.


Trance.nu: Most producers are DJ-ing as well. Are you also active as a DJ?
Mark Otten: No. I’m not a DJ, though I do sometimes mix so-called ‘producer’s sets’ for radio-stations. I actually don’t have the ambition to become a DJ. I have several reasons for that. The most important reason right now is my study. It’s not an easy study and you know that DJ-ing is travelling a lot around the globe etc. Combining the DJ-ing and studying would be very hard. Furthermore, I want to produce other kinds of music as well, so I want to make a lot of different styles. This will cost time, so combining this with DJ-ing seems almost impossible to me.


Trance.nu: So there will be no DJ Mark Otten in the future?
Mark Otten: Well, never say never, but for now I don’t see myself as a DJ in the next couple of years.


Trance.nu: In the past you made several remixes for Markus Schulz, Jan Vayne, Varian and some others. Recently you remixed the Menno de Jong track ‘Tundra’. The last remixes made by you saw a release as ‘Mark Otten Energetic Remix’. Can we expect more of those ‘Energetic’ remixes in the future?
Mark Otten: I think so. It depends a bit on what I hear in a track and what I can do with it. When I’m busy with remixing a track and it gets more energetic, then it can be a ‘Mark Otten Energetic Remix’. It’s an extra way to make clear to the people what they can expect of the remix. The style of my remixes is not always the same.


Trance.nu: Can we expect some ‘normal’ Mark Otten remixes soon?
Mark Otten: Oh yes, I recently finished a ‘normal’ Mark Otten remix for the English label Slow Motion, which is a new sub-label of the Motion Recordings label. The track is called ‘Novocaine’ and the original’s done by the two Slovakians ‘Kalafut and Fygle’.


Trance.nu: On the internet I already saw a lot of good reactions to this one!
Mark Otten: Yeah, the reactions to it are great. It’s always nice to read good comments! I think one of the main reasons is, that people describe this remix as ‘the old Mark Otten sound’. A bit in the ‘Mushroom Therapy’ style. Again I used a real guitar, but I used it a bit different. I used a slide while playing the guitar this time. The reactions are good and the support is also great: Above & Beyond played it in their radio show and Armin and Markus Schulz as well.


Trance.nu: I even saw a reaction in your guestbook by Simon Patterson (A&R for Judge Jules and one of the Dogzilla producers) who wrote that he wanted to give a copy of the remix to Judge Jules for his radioshow at BBC Radio One!
Mark Otten: True! It was really funny that he contacted me this way! I did send him the track and he liked it a lot, so hopefully Judge Jules is going to play it as well. For the guys of the label and Kalafut and Fygle it would be great.


Trance.nu: And when can we expect the release of this remix?
Mark Otten: I asked them if they could tell me a release date already, but … there is no date scheduled so far, so I don’t have a clue, haha!


Trance.nu: Do you check a lot on the internet to read reactions about your productions and remixes?
Mark Otten: I read on the internet forums and I have the idea that I am pretty lucky, when I compare the reactions on my stuff with reactions on stuff made by some of my colleagues. It’s always nice to read the good comments, but I can also imagine some of the bad comments from time to time. Most stuff isn’t to be taken too seriously though, in my view.


Trance.nu: What are your hobbies besides music?
Mark Otten: Music is my passion, the number one for sure! Besides that I like to go out, I do sports and if you can call studying a hobby, you can name that one too, haha!


Trance.nu: What are your favourite tracks of all time?
Mark Otten: When it comes to dance, my number one is ‘BT - Mercury and Solace’. For non dance it’s the soundtrack from the movie ‘American Beauty’ by Thomas Newman. It’s scary how beautiful it is!


Trance.nu: The one with the nice piano in it?
Mark Otten: Yes, of course the music of this movie was re-worked into a dance version as well. But the original is so beautiful. Goosebumps for sure!


Trance.nu: What do you consider to be your own best production?
Mark Otten: Oh, that is difficult… When it comes to a good production, how it sounds etc. I think it’s my remix for the Markus Schulz track ‘Largo’. But when it comes to the most interesting and innovative production, it’s going to be my track ‘Tranquility’.


Trance.nu: So the ‘Largo’ remix is also your own favourite remix?
Mark Otten: No, I meant that I think that my best sounding remix is ‘Largo’, but I think that I’ve done better remixes. I’m very happy with the result of ‘Novocaine’, but the remix that I like the most and that I’m the most proud of is the one I did for Jan Vayne: ‘The Promise Of A New World’. I used breakbeats for this remix and it’s a lot more different then the other tracks on the album (Classical Trancelations). I’m very satisfied with the result.


Trance.nu: You are a producer yourself, but who is your own favourite producer?
Mark Otten: That has to be William Orbit. I really like his style and the sounds he is using. I like the way he is using those sounds in his productions. So definitely William Orbit!


Trance.nu: And your favourite DJ?
Mark Otten: I really like house music a lot, so for that style I’m going to say Roog. For progressive … there are so many good DJ’s, but I want to mention Niklas Harding! He’s really talented, a great DJ. But at the moment he’s still underrated in my opinion. For the rest Markus Schulz is great too. It’s party time every time when I see and hear him play!


Trance.nu: What can we expect from you in the near future?
Mark Otten: I hope I can do an artist album one day, but that’s not something for the near future. For the rest I’m going to continue with my productions. I’m going to try to work with vocals. If that will work out, we will have to see and hear in the future! And I think there will be new tracks by ‘Lightscape’ and ‘Rio Addicts’ as well. I want to go on with the things that I do now, but when I finished my study, I want to do things faster then I do them nowadays. So I hope to finish more productions and remixes then.


Trance.nu: Thank you for your time and good luck in the future!
Mark Otten: Thank you too for the interview!


Written by:
dancemania

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