Mark Sherry: I'm a fussy git... but it's working well so far

We catch up with tech trance ambassador Mark Sherry who talks us through some of his favourite producers, the challenges of remixing for Armin Van Buuren, his New Year's Eve plans and a whole lot more.

Mike Warburton

Last updated: 24th Dec 2014.
Originally published: 22nd Dec 2014

Photo: Mark Sherry

Having been a scene central to the tech trance movement on these shores for some time now, Mark Sherry is a DJ and producer whose star continues to rise. Once he turned his hand to production back in 1996, Sherry has never been far from the action, with each passing year moving him up the trance rung as his productions strike a chord with tech trance fanatics.

Following a two year exclusive contract to Dutch giants Spinnin's sister label Reset Records in 2011, Sherry has seen his international career take off exponentially, with this year being perhaps his busiest yet as he set about launching not just one, but two labels championing the sounds he loves in both trance and techno.

On the eve of his set for Trancelate in his hometown, Glasgow on New Year's Eve, we thought we'd pin down the Scottish trance doyen and chat about his jam-packed year, his recent remix for Armin Van Buuren, who he's really rating in the scene at the moment, and get the inside track on his two imprints Outburst and Techburst.

You're set to play at 69 Below in Glasgow for Trancelate's New Year’s Eve party. You pretty fired up for that? What can we expect from a Mark Sherry NYE set?

I always tell my manager to try and keep me close to home for Xmas and New Year's so to get booked in Glasgow for Trancelate on NYE couldn’t have been more perfect to be honest. Haha!

I'll be playing all of my latest productions including my new singles and remixes and of course a lot of the brand new Outburst and Techburst releases that I have lined up for release early 2015... I really can’t wait to road test them.

You've just released a cracking remix for Armin Van Buuren. How did that come about, and do you approach remixing such a huge artist with caution or is it more of an enjoyable experience?

It was really off the back of my remixes of Max Graham's 'The Evil ID' and also Markus Schulz' 'Remember This' that I produced this year. It was a huge honour being asked to do a remix for Armin, he’s a true legend of the scene!

I basically just got an email from Armada asking if I was up for remixing the #ASOT700 anthem next year for him… I had to think about my reply for a few days…Not!

It was very enjoyable but at the same time incredibly tough because of the short space of time I had to do it in. I was working 12 hour shifts for two weeks solid to get it all finalised. I'm very happy with how it’s turned out though and can’t wait to play it over Xmas and New Year's... and of course at the actual event next year in Utrecht!

You've recently launched Techburst where you’ll concentrating more on techno. Is techno a bit of a passion of yours, and can you tell us more about what we can look forward to from the label? 

I've loved and played techno since around 2000, it was hearing Mauro Picotto play in the Arches several times and being heavily influenced by all of the BXR labels and releases around that time that really shook up the way I thought about trance and dance music, it made me realise that it was a really fresh idea to cover different genres in a single DJ set.

The way Mauro & Mario Piu (as seen above, playing a BXR classics set) used to mash up trance, tech trance and techno in their sets which at that time was really something special, and no one else I can think of at that time was doing it... well maybe Marco V actually but a bit less techy.

Roll on 15 years and I’m trying to do the same across Outburst & Techburst, I suppose I’m just really trying to make a difference to the scene as much as I possibly can, too many people’s brains have been poisoned by all the generic EDM bullshit that’s around at the moment.

I’m trying to do something fresh to give people a fresh alternative by mixing some of that classic tech-trance sound that we all love but with a new modern sounding and really fresh twist.

And how about Outburst, that continues to go from strength to strength, who on the label is particularly doing it for you at the moment, and have you any forthcoming releases we can look forward to?

Alex Di Stefano (listen to 'Escape From The Past' above) is undoubtedly my favourite producer of the moment and of the year to be honest. He is an absolute studio genius and I can honestly say that I’ve not been influenced by anyone as much since I was by Mauro back in the day... he is a GENIUS!

So you can expect to hear a lot more from him, The Space Brothers that I've just collaborated with and also guys like Fred Baker, Bryan Kearney, Tempo Giusto, Lostly, Nick Callaghan, Adam Ellis, Solis & Sean Truby and also some of the really great relative newcomer guys like Stephen Kirkwood, Jamie Walker, Corti Organ, Frank Dueffel, Active Lymbic System, Craig Meichan, Paul Denton & Project 8, Adam Seller, Leolife, Emrah Unturk, Stereojackers vs Mark Loverush, Technikal & much more.

I'll also be doing more collaborations with the amazing Clare Stagg amongst others. On Techburst I have releases and remixes forthcoming by myself, Alex Di Stefano, Shelley Johannson, Pedro Delgardo, Dualitik, TKNO, Cave DJZ, Gene Karz, Chicago Loop, Balthazar & JackRock, Destroyer and more... Busy times!

What process do you go through when signing records to the label?

I'm a really fussy git to be honest! So you're doing very well to get signed to one of my labels! I basically have a thought process of 'would I play this in a DJ set?', and if the answer is 'yes' then you’re off to a great start! This is a good way of working because it means that I have a good and solid 'gut feeling' about a release right away.

There's so much rubbish that gets released on some labels now and I've also been surprised at the amount of garbage that even some of the bigger labels have been guilty of putting out, so I'm being very strict with myself and only signing tracks that have literally got me buzzing after a first listen of them. I’ll be sticking to this way of working no matter how any demos I get sent in a day, it’s working very well so far, so all good!

You're a passionate exponent of tech trance in particular, what is it about tech trance that you love more than straight up trance, or the more progressive stuff? And with all your years at the heart of the trance scene, what is it that keeps you hooked on the genre?

For me it's all about the groove and percussion of tech trance and the combination of these driving grooves with big melodic breakdowns. There’s just something that’s always grabbed my attention in this genre, can’t explain it really. Progressive trance is too generic now, just like 'EDM'... even though a lot of the production is good I find it very boring! 

How has this year been for you? What have been some of your highlights? 

I've easily had the best year of my career, it’s been crazy all year... living the absolute dream! Remixing for some of the biggest names of the scene like Armin Van Buuren, Markus Schulz, Max Graham, Aly & Fila and Giuseppe Ottaviani, launching my own labels Outburst and Techburst... and playing some really huge events like celebrating my 20th year as a DJ at #TWENTY in Toronto.

Then there was Ultra in Buenos Aires (and going B2B with Ferry Corsten), Subculture and Digital Society debut in Leeds (image below), Electronic Family, Grotesque, Luminosity and too many more to mention!

But the icing on the cake for me was getting signed to one of the biggest trance agencies out there ‘Twenty 4 Seven Mgmt’. That was big thanks to Sied Van Riel, John O’Callaghan and Fadi (from Aly & Fila) for pestering Dimitri the boss into signing me up haha. Been pinching myself regularly throughout the year!

What can we look forward to from yourself in 2015?

Just a lot more single releases and a good bit less remixes... and lots of amazing gigs to be announced soon, but for me the main one will be #ASOT700 in Utrecht in February... very excited about that!

Will you be making any New Year’s resolutions?

To stop being so fussy would be a good one! Haha!

And finally, if you could go back and sign any record from history to Outburst, what would it be and why?

Mauro Picotto's 'Lizard'. When it came out it was one of those very big 'shock factor' tracks that blew you away because of it's huge and raw sound. It was so different to anything else around at that time… I really hadn't seen it coming. He created such a fresh sound that no one else was doing and it went on to create a whole genre almost that only he was the master of. Incredible tune! 

We concur - a stone cold classic! Catch Mark Sherry doing his thing at Trancelate this New Year's Eve at 69 Below in Glasgow. Get your Trancelate tickets here.

Find out what's happening on New Year's Eve near you, here.