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For The Record: Mark Knight, 'It'll be the biggest rave the world has ever seen'
The DJ, producer and Toolroom label boss reveals some of his favourite records, new artists to watch out for, and the best live performance he's ever seen.
Date published: 19th May 2020
It's been seventeen years since Mark Knight founded Toolroom records in the family shed in Maidstone alongside his brother Stuart.
Since then the label has gone on to global acclaim, releasing tracks from the likes of Fatboy Slim, David Guetta and Tiesto, while Knight has become a house music heavyweight and one of Beatport's best-selling DJs, with no less than eight number ones including 'Flauta Magica' and 'Good Times'.
He's headlined festivals and clubs from Ultra Music in Miami to Space in Ibiza, worked with the likes of Calvin Harris, Underworld, Faithless, and picked up a Grammy nomination for his work on the Black Eyed Peas' multi-platinum album, The-End.
He says: “I’ve been involved in dance music in one form or another for almost three decades now. Originally as a fan going out clubbing to Ministry of Sound, Garage City and The Lofty, listening to DJs like Paul Trouble Anderson, CJ Mackintosh and Bobby & Steve. They’re all responsible for getting me into house music in the first place.
“I founded Toolroom in 2003. I never expected it to grow into the global brand it is today and I’m incredibly proud of what it’s become, from all the records and artists we’ve worked on and developed, through to the Academy that’s now such a huge part of what we do.
“Obviously the industry is currently in the middle of a huge amount of turmoil, but I genuinely believe that we will come out of this stronger with a few valuable lessons learnt. When we do, there’s going to be the biggest rave the world has ever seen!”
Is there a record you can’t stop playing right now?
“Anything by Moods Music - he is awesome.”
How many records do you personally own?
“If we’re specifically talking vinyl, not many any more, maybe around 500. I auctioned off the vast majority a few years ago for a DJ Mag charity fundraiser and just kept the ones that meant something to me. I had about 6000 and managed to raise about £8k, so at least they went to a good home and a good cause!”
What’s the weirdest, rarest or most expensive record you own?
“Probably one by my dad's band, Haylock’s Rock House. Not many copies of that around I wouldn’t have thought. A collector’s item for sure.”
If you could only play one record for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“Cloud 9, ‘Do You Want Me Baby’. Without doubt this is my favourite house record of all time. The chords on the intro get me every single time. It just reminds me of everything I love about the scene and transports me back to when I completely fell in love with electronic music. It’s absolutely perfect.”
Give us your top 3 recent releases:
“I’ve actually got four records out at the moment, here’s three of them: ‘If It’s Love’ by Mark Knight (ft. Laura Davie & Melody Men); ‘Paradise’ (Mark Knight & Michael Gray Remix) by Jasper Street Co. (ft. Byron Stingly & Norman Jean), and ‘Baby’ by Andrea Giudice & Larry Cadge (Mark Knight Rework).
Which new artist/band/DJ should we be listening to right now?
“Maxinne. She’s outstanding! She’s doing her own thing and not following trends, 100% original in a space of her own. I really admire and respect that and know she’s got a big future. Also there’s an Australian guy called Alex Preston, who makes brilliant disco and funky, soulful house."
Do you have a musical guilty pleasure?
“I really love Michael Bublé at Christmas. It’s not Christmas without a bit of Bublé.”
Best live performance you’ve ever seen?
“Rahsaan Patterson at the Jazz Café. I’ve never in all my life heard a band as tight as the one he played with. They were bashing out these crazy, extended improvised versions of all their songs, and nailing every single one. I’ll never forget that gig as long as I live.”
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
“I’d have to go for Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They’ve been such a huge musical influence on me over the years. Their music was blowing me away before I even really understood what it was to be a producer.”