British DJ Mark Knight is a Grammy-award nominated producer who has worked with The Black Eyed Peas, the singer Skin, and numerous other diverse recording artists. Following his sold-out performance at Prague’s Roxy Club in 2015, the house music heavyweight is back for a unique club night experience “All Knight Long” on September 22. We spoke with Mark in advance of next weekend’s event:
How was your summer? Where did you play and how was it?
It was busy! A lot of the gigs were part of the All Knight Long tour, so it was great to play for longer than I usually would do. But all the travel and 7/8 hour sets definitely took it out of me. It was an intense experience: I had to really get to know my music better than ever before and it was a test of how to keep things interesting every night. But as challenging as it was I loved every minute I was playing: every night threw up different challenges and surprises and I think we put together a fantastic tour in the end.
Where are you from and what was it like growing up there? Has it changed today?
I’m from Maidstone, a town near London which has actually built a really good music scene over the last 10 years or so. It wasn’t always like that though. My first gig was at a pub in Maidstone on a Tuesday night. It was dead, with less than 10 people in there. It was barely a gig but it did teach me you need to know your music well if you want to play in public, especially after I let one track run out completely before putting the next one on. My first ‘proper’ gig was at The Arches in Suffolk Street, London. I remember that the sound system was so loud I had to completely change how I played. That would have been around ’96 I think.
What do you think about the current condition of London nightlife? How have you seen things change over the years?
I think that the industry as a whole has been quite down on itself over the last year or so, but actually, it’s in a really good place. Yes, there have been a lot of recent closures of clubs, but at the same time new ones have opened and thrived. And there are more people interested in DJing or producing dance music than ever before. We also seem to have moved away from the super-polished huge clubs, and back to something more in touch with the roots of dance music. Everything has just evolved, and that’s where we’re at now.
Where are your favorite venues to play and why?
Way, way too many to name! I can genuinely say that I rarely have a bad experience at clubs anymore. I’m fortunate in being able to be fairly selective about the clubs and nights I play at these days, and as I said my recent All Knight Long tour has been a fantastic experience. If I had to pick one though I guess it would be Space in Ibiza – had so many unforgettable experiences there over the years.
Would you go ‘into the jungle’ or ‘the House’ are you a fan of reality TV? Taking part or watching?
Absolutely not! I have no desire to have people watch what I’m doing 24/7. I do like an adventure though, so I wouldn’t mind a jungle trek… but no cameras, please.
Your label Toolroom Records is known for progression, innovation and a close connection with its fanbase. How have you managed to maintain that strong bond over the years?
I’d say consistency is definitely key. In terms of the A&R policy itself, that hasn’t changed since day one. We’re after quality, memorable records that smash a dancefloor and hooks that stay with you. And that carried over to everything else we do – a level of quality and consistency that makes us stand out. We’re also always listening to our audience, whether that’s at gigs or on social media. We have amazing fans, so we definitely take on board what they tell us or how they react to certain records.
Are there any other industries you’d like to move into in the future? Radio? Print-media?
One of the things we’re really focusing on is growing the Toolroom Academy. We’ve been running this for some time now, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger. In fact, it represents the biggest area of financial growth out of everything we do with Toolroom, so there’s definitely a growing appetite for it. I think what’s made it successful is that it’s not just generic production courses – the programs are based on the sound of Toolroom, so fans know that they’re going to get the best possible instruction of how to create the music they love. And it also gets really stuck into the business side of things. It’s also a genuine talent funnel for us – we’ve actually just signed a new artist for management who we met through an Academy event at the Brighton Music Conference earlier this year. It’s definitely a side of the business we’ll be looking to invest in and expand in the future.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures? If so please share.
No music should make you feel guilty, if you like it you like it. That said there are probably a few records I love that I wouldn’t necessarily stick on if I had a few mates round, but I’ll be keeping those to myself!