Photo: Mark Knight
In its decade in the business, Mark Knight's Toolroom empire has positioned itself as one of the leading brands of modern house and techno. With Mark himself a Grammy nominated producer, celebrated remixer, and mastermind behind the internationally revered Toolroom parties, it's arguably been his tireless championing of new talent that has made the Toolroom label the success story it so overwhelmingly is.
That combined with its ability to stay one step ahead of an ever evolving landscape (Toolroom has lead the way in the Digital music market for some time now) has made Mark Knight's brainchild a real industry leader.
Its latest development has seen the label call for a #RESET (above), which will have fully kicked in when brand new clubbing experience Toolroom Live receives its UK launch on November 29th. We caught up with the man himself to find out what it's all about.
Hi Mark, cheers for joining us today. So first up, we're pretty excited about this new Toolroom Live party, tell us all about it.
This is the UK launch of our Toolroom Live club concept and will be at Fire London on 29th November. This really is a landmark event for us, as it’s the first time a UK audience will get to experience Toolroom Live – it’s what the #RESET campaign and the 'Toolroom Live 01' album have all been leading to.
The event showcases the vast musical spectrum we are privileged to occupy with a diverse line up of some of our favourite artists. Joining me in the main room will be Weiss, Adrian Hour and our special guests Tube & Berger. We'll also be joined by Dosem, Mike Mago, Ferreck Dawn & Redondo, Piemont, Panda and Audiowhores.
Why did you feel that you wanted to #RESET Toolroom? What changes can we expect from the label?
Toolroom was born as an output for my own music. The fact that this was successful attracted other artists, as we ran it like a business. Through sheer success, we stretched our musical parameters to something we weren't totally comfortable with. I think we maybe followed the market down a road that wasn't completely compatible with our own vision for the music.
So #RESET is about refining our musical space. We are not about chasing trends or jumping on bandwagons; we are about doing things from the heart. The definition of this space is embodied by the three artists we've chosen to launch #RESET, with Weiss (above) at the deeper end of the spectrum, Adrian Hour (below) with techno, and myself sitting in the middle.
After ten years, we're coming full circle in the best possible way. Our main focus is to discover and build new artists, like Weiss and Adrian Hour, who make the music we’re deeply passionate about and to release great music for DJs and fans of dance music.
That can only then mean taking the Toolroom party all over the world with a refocused energy. It’s a huge chapter for us and probably one of our most exciting to date!
Speaking of taking it all over the world, you'll be debuting Toolroom Live at Avalon in LA on November 15th - how are the American clubgoers soaking up the Toolroom sound?
It’s been really well received in the US and, more broadly, globally. Our core fans have always loved what we do and the receptiveness at our shows is amazing. You can see that there's an appetite from that audience to learn about the roots of house so the US is a big focus for us, as there’s so much room to grow.
The UK Launch lands in London, somewhere we believe the whole Toolroom thing started. London has been responsible for nurturing some incredible dance music movements throughout history, how much of a part do you think it made in the initial success of Toolroom, and what is it about London that makes it one of the best clubbing destinations?
With any part of youth culture, London is always at the forefront, whether it be fashion, music etc. so it’s very important that there’s a specific focus on and strategy for it. Yes, it’s in our backyard so it makes sense to do that anyway, but London is the trend-setter for anything youth and culture related.
London is important to us because it’s a melting pot; you’ve got all these different people coming when they’re young, creating this vibrant multiculturalism – it’s almost a country within a country. Add all these factors, all these different people who have come from different parts of the world with all their ideas, and that’s what makes it really special.
We've noticed that the Toolroom roster has had a bit of a shake up too. Who are some of the new artists that we should be keeping an ear for?
We've stripped back and refocused our roster with artists we’re passionate about working with. We have an exciting array of artists, including Weiss and Adrian Hour who are just exceptional producers in their own genres.
Being blessed with the freedom to release across a wide spectrum has allowed us to build close relationships with an exciting list of artists. Our long-term label mates Prok & Fitch (listen to one of their Toolroom contributions above) and Rene Amesz have remained pivotal, contributing hugely successful singles and album tracks, as well as regularly joining us at our events worldwide.
An increasingly important member of our roster is Doorly – he remains central to our sound, alongside US one-to-watch Amtrac, who joins us in LA for our debut at Avalon. We’ll also be developing artists and bringing them into the Toolroom family – more news on these exciting artists to come soon.
With Toolroom encompassing everything from deep, underground house right through to big room techno, what is it that makes a tune ideal for the label? What do you look for when signing an artist/record?
Definitely, will I play it? That’s really important. Will it fit in one of my sets? If I’m going to put my name on it, it has to work for me. That’s paramount. It’s the 64 million dollar question: what makes a record good? It’s so subjective – if you feel it and it moves you in a certain way, then it’s right.
Have you got any new productions in the pipeline yourself?
Yes, at the beginning of next year, I’ve got a huge record with Adrian Hour coming out on Toolroom Trax. From now until January it’s real heads down in the studio; the focus is on lots of club records, as I'm looking to do ten releases next year. There’s lots of writing, collaborations and interesting things, so watch this space…
Where else are you taking Toolroom Live in the coming months?
We’re in Bulgaria for New Years Eve, Croatia for New Years Day, BPM Festival in Mexico in January and we've got big plans for Miami and moving forward the rest of the year.
Last question - and it’s a hypothetical situation. You have the ability to throw the ultimate Toolroom party, with guest DJs from any time in history, alive or dead. Where would you have it, who would be on the bill and what track would you play to define the evening?
It would be B2B between me, Larry Levan, Carl Cox and Louis Vega – that would be a musical wet dream for me! I would play 'Man With The Red Face', as it’s the most iconic record we’ve ever released.
To be massively self-indulgent and because Larry Levan was playing, I’d also play Conversion – ‘Let's Do It’ (above). I always dreamed of being at the Paradise Garage and hearing him play that record.
Don't miss out on Toolroom Live when it debuts at Fire, London on November 29th. Grab your Toolroom Live tickets here.
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