dj to dj: Mark E & Damon Martin

In the third installment of the DJ to DJ series, brummie genius Mark E and Disco Bloodbath maestro Damon Martin sat down to chew the fat on getting started in production, the benefits of releasing on various labels, evolving production set ups and the new and old records that are doing it at the moment… 
DM: My first encounter with your music was your Womack and Womack edit which came out in 2005 and from what I can tell this was your first release, under the Mark E name at least. Can you tell us a bit about your dance music history prior to this?

ME: Yep that was my first release, before this I was your regular vinyl enthusiast, school playground tape swapper, bedroom DJ, small time promoter putting on parties with friends for friends in my local town of Wolverhampton.

Later moving to Birmingham where I met many like minded souls through club nights like LEFTFOOT, BAMBAM, FLOATATION & JIGSAW, the latter went onto form JISCO with whom I released Scared.
DM: In recent years your releases have pretty much been entirely original stuff, as opposed to the edits that you originally found prominence with. Was it a conscious decision to move in this direction?

ME: Pretty much yes. I just saw the whole edit thing becoming very formulaic and quite boring, almost just bootlegging. So I was keen to move out of that and avoid being pigeon holed as an “editor”, plus doing those edits gave me the confidence to push to original material. But i miss the fun of the edit, so planning on getting back in there soon.

DM: You seem to have a fairly hectic DJ schedule nowadays. Do you have a favourite place, or places, to play?

ME: Anywhere in Glasgow, especially the Subclub, but the city just seems to be on a different level. That club the Subclub really is special, im playing there again this year with Harri & Dominic for subculture. 

But Im so lucky to be invited to all these places and play my music, I really do enjoy every gig. 
DM: Im a big fan of your album Stone Breaker but I do remember initially being surprised, due to your existing relationships with labels like Running Back and Golf Channel, when I heard that it was coming out on Spectral. In hindsight, though, it was a perfect fit. How did that relationship come about?

ME: Primarily out of the remix I did for Matthew Dear which came out of the blue. The relationship developed from there and it just seemed right. But yeah, ive been really lucky to be involved with such great labels like Running Back & Golf Channel, they have to be up there as two of the best labels in this genre, and I think the 12″s we have done together worked amazingly well for both parties and so im set to release another M.E. remix 12″ with GF & am currently working on my 4th Running Back 12″, plus a second LP for spectral, so I see  working for all these labels can work very well and almost compliments each other. 

DM: How do you see your label Merc? Is there a goal, ethos or sound youre pursuing with it?

ME: I want MERC to carry on being the underground low output small quantity label that it has proved to be so far, putting out interesting diverse club music, testing the waters with new projects, aliases and proper talent from the likes of Chicago Dam, Edwards Dead and Quaid. Theres no grand project or schedule planned, just to keep it quality and consistent. 

DM: Your latest endeavour Project E has seen you team up with Nat Woodcock, a classically trained pianist. Do you have any formal musical training yourself? How have you found working with someone from a more traditional musical background?

ME: No Training whatsoever, perhaps just a good ear. Working with Nat has been really good, its opened up a whole musicality which would be impossible for me to achieve alone. He really is a genius and we work together very well, and having someone who isnt from a ” house” background brings a fresh approach 

DM: What are your plans for Project E? An album perhaps?

ME: Yes an album, we are going to try and work on it this year, maybe on MERC, I like the idea of putting out a collectible CD with a Project E Tshirt of about 200 copies in total and see what happens from there.

DM: f we could divert into geek territory for a moment, what is your studio setup like? I remember speaking to you a few years ago and you told me you were mostly computer based and in the box. Is this still the case?

ME: Pretty much yes,  with a few new percussive additions, I used to sample my kicks to poor effect listening back, but now have a bass station & drumstation which emulates the 808 & 909. But looking to bulk up the hardware for the next LP.

DM: Im afraid Im going to have to throw in a DJ interview clich here. Can you tell us one new record that youre really feeling and one older record that never leaves your box/CD Wallet/Hard-drive/USB Stick?

ME: Scott Grooves – C Track as the current favourite

Photon Inc – Give a little love as the one that NEVER leaves the bag, i still play this, and I have been for years, I apologise to anyone who has heard me play it more than twice, but I just cant help it. 

DM: Whilst researching this interview I found out that Project E was the codename of a post war arrangement between the UK and the US involving the loan of nuclear weapons. Is this where you got the name from?

ME: I did the same search when I was thinking of the name and found the same thing. I wanted people to know it was me, so the E needed to be there and PROJECT E seemed right, with the back up of the Nuclear thing it was meant to be.

Mark E and Damon Martin play Dance Tunnel on 6th April, check out further details over on the fb event page.