Ahead of Trance Sanctuary, we caught up with one of the genre's key players Mark Sherry to talk Outburst Records, demo tips and moving to the dark side of techno.
Image: Mark Sherry
Hailing from Scotland, Mark Sherry has become one of the leading names in the tech-trance genre due his outstanding productions and energetic DJ sets (listen to one of his recent live mixes below).
In 2014 he founded Outburst Records, which has had releases supported by an abundance of a-list DJs within the dance music scene. On Saturday 14th November his label will host one of the rooms at Trance Sanctuary, so we quizzed the man himself about the label, productions and those classic tracks.
Hi Mark, what has been happening in your world over the past few months?
It's been a really crazy year so far. There's been a lot of touring and doing the Ibiza season back and forth from the island, which has been a lot of fun.
I've been doing gigs like Full On for Ferry Corsten at Space, Tomorrowland, Dance Valley and Connect at Privilege and also events like the massive BAT in Buenos Aires, Ozmozis in Toronto, Music Circus in Japan and loads of other stuff.
Being so busy with your own productions and touring, how do you manage to find time to balance that with Outburst Records and having a social life?
Social life? Sorry? What does that mean? [laughs] I do still get the odd weekend off so the only thing I can do is make the most of any free time that I get. But it's quite a rare occurrence to be honest.
What made you start Outburst Records in the first place?
It's something that I've wanted to do for over ten years now. I suppose I just wanted to have complete control over my releases and not have to wait for labels to reply to my emails etc.
I've been lucky with record labels in the past though, most have shared my vision and goals and helped me build my profile, but one in particular almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown.
So, let's just say that it's good to be sitting where I am just now with Outburst and having some amazing established artists signed up and of course a team of newcomers that I'll be really pushing over the next few months/years.
For the budding producers out there, do you have any good tips when submitting demos to labels?
Yes, I could write a book on this, but I’ll keep it short and snappy. Make sure the label that you're sending to actually release the style that you produce. Keep your emails short, don't tell them your life story. Don't ever send full files, send 192kb top and tailed MP3 previews either as Dropbox or Soundcloud links.
If you can, send mastered demos but if you can't master yourself, then don't ruin your demo by trying to do it yourself. If the label want changes made to the track in the end, then most mastering engineers, like myself, will charge only a small fee to re-master the track for you.
Lastly, don't send to more than one label at a time, you need to be patient. Make a top five list of your favourite labels and work your way down but always aim high.
Do you have any particular producers at the moment who’s productions you are particularly liking?
I'm absolutely loving Alex Di Stefano, Signum, Tempo Giusto, Jamie Walker, Stephen Kirkwood and Paul Denton's productions at the minute. They are all currently doing stuff on Outburst for me. Plus Lostly, Adam Ellis and Vlind along with Paul Thomas & Shadow of Two also have some really tasty tech stuff coming up on the label next year too.
We saw from your Instagram that you have recently finished your first ever techno EP with Gene Karz who is a techno producer. How did you find it working in a different genre to what you are used to with someone who works mainly in this domain?
Yeah Gene is a very talented producer! He constantly sends me great promos, he's a production machine. He seemed like the right choice to work with for my first techno EP.
My music has always been very techy with lots of groove and percussive elements anyway, so it's not much different to be honest, just a lot less melody involved. I'm going to be doing some stuff with Alex Di Stefano too, among others, so that should be very interesting.
Do you ever get the urge to pull a track out of the vaults and bosh it out at any of your gigs?
I've always got a massive classics folder that sits on my USB sticks, so I'm always ready to throw in some true trance/tech-trance/techno classics during any suitable sets that I'm playing.
Clearly you have had a very successful career musically, spanning from Public Domain, to your current touring, releases and Outburst Records. Where does Mark Sherry go from here?
The next step for me is kicking off Outburst branded events. There will be two formats for these nights; one where I'll be showcase some of the key artists on the label and the other where I'll play an open-to-close set. These nights in particular will really let me roll my sleeves up and be a lot more adventurous during much longer sets.
The first event was held with Esscala at the amazing Cielo nightclub in October and then I'll be doing the first UK event in the Terrace at Trance Sanctuary on the 14th November, which I'm very excited about. The third will be in Washington DC at Elements, which is also in November.
There are also big big plans for next year with many other Outburst nights that'll be popping up all over the globe.
So with your upcoming gig for Trance Sanctuary in London looming, do you have any idea of what tracks you are going to play on the night?
Too many to mention but you'll just need to turn up and find out! There will be loads of really banging Outburst and Techburst exclusives getting played, it's going to be great.
You last played at Trance Sanctuary for the third birthday, what are your memories of that party?
Without sounding clichéd, the crowd in Trance Sanctuary really are a big family. I was welcomed with open arms and the trance loving punters at this event prove that you don't have to travel far north to get a really crazily responsive crowd, it was really nuts.
You are touring the globe with your Outburst brand with parties in New York and as you mentioned you're hosting the Terrace at Trance Sanctuary on the 14th November. What encouraged you to host your own rooms and parties?
Again it's just having that extra control over the events. Being able to push my artists is a really big thing for me, and also having the flexibility of doing the extended open-to-close sets. These really let me show people what I can do musically and as a DJ.
I've been around for over 20 years now so it's great to get the chance to show what I've learned over the years and show that there's a lot more depth to DJing than just smashing out all of your biggest tracks in an hour.
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Words: Jennifer Kelly