Dreamstate Artists – Mark Sherry and Gentech
What started as a chance opportunity to interview one of my favorites in the industry, turned into a dream come true!
My interview started with me to interview the one and only Mark Sherry. The high passion, brilliant Scott who is the founder of Outbursts and Techbursts. But when I entered the trailer, the legend was sitting with Scot Project (Frank Zenker) and my Mark Sherry interview quickly turned into a Gentech interview. Seeing these two together is like watching old friends reminisce after being away from each other for months. Absolute titans, I have been following these two since the 90’s and to hear their stories brought warmth to my heart. Mark Sherry has to be one of the nicest in the scene and is doing so much to push for the next generation as well as maintain a standard that has left the scene. Not being boxed into one sound, Mark would love nothing more than to bring a fusion of sounds together to create musical mastery.
Scot Project has never been one to be placed into a single box and does not plan to start now. The German powerhouse, Godfather of hard trance holds a very special place in my heart; and after having the opportunity to sit with him it has grown more permanent.
Gentech is an absolute brilliant balance of tech and hard trance. Two rock stars coming together to deliver fist pumping, feet stomping, body sweating music, that would make anyone dance. I can only thank Mark and Frank over and over again for the opportunity, and cannot wait to see them on stage again. If you are lucky enough to be present at a festival or show where they are playing, DO NOT MISS IT!
Welcome back to Cali Mark! It is always a pleasure to have you here. Your track with Scot Project is the anthem for Dreamstate. How did this project for the track come together? Were you surprised by them picking this track, if so why?
Mark Sherry: It was basically because Dreamstate are always looking for exclusive ideas for B2B sets at their events to make the lineups a bit more exclusive, so it was a combination of our manager’s minds. They came up with some ideas, and they obviously thought that my sound would work well with Frank’s (as did we). We have obviously known each other a long time in the scene and we’ve also given each other’s music a lot of mutual support over the years, so it was the perfect combination and a chance to smash our individual styles/sounds together. Before I was a known DJ in 1994, I was just a regular guy buying vinyl in record stores so I knew about Frank/Scot Project before I really got into DJ’ing professionally. A few years later, maybe around 1999, Frank started supporting my music as well. We have done a lot of stuff together over the years, a lot of gigs with each other and remixing each other’s productions etc. Frank did a huge remix of Public Domain ‘Operation Blade’ for me back in 2008 for my set at Trance Energy, and then I remixed Frank’s classic track ‘U’ for Perfecto Fluoro in 2015..and a few others since then. We had always spoken about working together for many years, but because we were both busy doing our own music related projects it couldn’t happen until now – we’re both very excited about the project!
It was a real honor to be asked to make the official anthem for the event, we were totally buzzing! The track came together quite quickly as well, over a period of about 3 weeks, once we had all the ideas in place anyway. We can’t wait to play it tonight..the early feedback online for it has been amazing so far!
Frank: I am always busy touring like Mark, so don’t always have got much opportunity to create in the studio, but we are both out of town this weekend for this event to create something new, so we will work hard on Gentech and see how things go over the next year for the project.
Having you and Scot Project working together just seems so natural. What does the future of Gentech hold? Any future date’s fans should be on the lookout for
Mark: We can’t really say exactly what, but we have quite a few confirmed, there seems to be a really great buzz already surround the project!
(Mark to Frank) Can we say it?
Mark: The plan is to do maybe like 10 really special events/gigs a year. We are not going to start doing Gentech sets every weekend cos we’re already very busy with our solo work. We’re going to stick to really big gigs, festivals, unique club events or raves etc. We’re keeping it really exclusive!
Frank: Basically it’s slightly different from what we normally play in our own set when we play solo sets. Because this is a festival, we’ve made every short edits of what we would normally play during our own longer sets…so we will see how it all goes today.
Mark: 2019 is a big year for us because we both have been DJ’ing for 25 years, so we both really want to celebrate that and just pick exclusive gigs…
Frank: Yeah so it’s 50 years combined haha
Mark: (laughing) Yeah totally, exclusive events like Dreamstate tonight. If we had more time, we would have made a lot more music for tonight, but I’m working very hard on my own album just now and Frank is busy with his own stuff. We have 2 or 3 brand new things planned to play tonight (including the official anthem for the event – Gentech ‘Feel My Love’), but next year, we’ll have a lot more time to spend on Gentech once my album is finished. The next Gentech set that we do is going to have a lot more of our own collab tracks in the set, but tonight we have 2 or 3 things lined up. We’ve made a LOT of edits of all of our favorite tech-trance and hard-trance from the last 25 years so it’s going to be a really pounding set haha.
You run both Outburst and Techburst, which are both remarkable labels. You have had label nights for both of these, which I have been lucky to attend both. Do you see more label nights in the future? How do you balance your own music and pushing the labels at the same time?
Mark: Thanks a lot! Yeah, we are always looking to find new promoters, and people to work with regarding this. I don’t just work for every promoter that gives us an offer. It has to be somebody that really knows about the label and appreciates that specific sound, understands the concept etc. They also have to be able to construct a solid line-up that works for us all musically. I need to get Frank on one of (or a few) of my lineups in 2019 as well, in my opinion he has done some of his best ever releases on Outburst. I am always looking for new promoters to work with and also trying to come up with new ideas. We have done a few things in LA but we are always looking for new options that will let us combine Outburst (trance) with Techburst (techno). I’m also trying to talk Frank into doing some techno for Techburst too…nudge nudge mate haha.
Frank: Maybe who knows?
Mark: So we will see what happens.
Me: I would fly to any country to see that if it was to happen haha.
Mark: For me, tech-trance has always been about the combination of techno grooves with big melodic breakdowns. So it is the perfect fusion for me. The more gigs and events that we can do that combines techno with trance would be a big thing for me. I was a raver back in 1992 and back in the day when you went to a rave, it was all under one roof usually, so you would have techno, house, drum & bass, hardcore, industrial and acid etc etc…so it was all about the crowd being very open-minded. You would hear so many different styles of dance music on that one night and for me a lot of that has been lost now. So the more events I can get lined up where it starts with progressive going into techno, then into slow tech-trance, uplifting trance, fast tech-trance and psy or fast techno, thee better – for me this makes the ultimate progression at an event, it builds from start to finish. I want more events to happen with this kind of concept. Nowadays it’s all very much segregated, you go to a festival and there’s a trance tent, a techno tent, a house tent, an EDM tent etc. I don’t think it should be like that, it should all be under one roof , getting people to be a lot more open-minded again. People are completely spoiled rotten now and a bit narrow-minded, only wanting to hear one type of music when they go out now.
You have some amazing up and coming talents on your label like Vlind for example. What do you look for when picking artists to be on the labels? How important is it to find new talent?
Mark: These younger guys help to shape the future of the label, as much as the more established guys I feel. I was one of the new guys a few years ago and I’ll never forget how hard it was to break-through, so I get a huge buzz out of helping the next generation get on the ladder. I’m always looking for new talent, new guys to work with. Vlind is from Mexico and just a very young guy, I think 22/23 but he’s very talented for his age. I have also worked with a few other true legend on the label, Frank, Marco V, Mauro Picotto, Mario Piu and Johan Gielen are a few of the big names.
Frank: Richard Durand
Mark: Yeah of course, Richard just totally blossomed again recently, he’s really came back to life over the last couple of years. I am trying to push a lot of new guys, so when I hear a track that has that special spark then I’m all over it. I sometimes spend days with the artists emailing back and forth to help them develop the track until it’s over the line and sounding the absolute best that it can. Especially if it’s a new/less experienced artist, I’ll invest a lot of time into pushing them as much as I can, along with some of the really big names on the label as well. That’s just as important to me because at the end of the day they are going to be the future of trance/techno.
Recently you shared that a Trance Energy memory popped up on your Facebook memories. In just the last 10 years, how much has the scene changed in your perspective. What would you change back? And what do you think still needs to change?
Mark: I’ve noticed over the years that dance music pretty much ‘comes and goes’ in 10 year cycles, I’d say that from 2006 to 2016 maybe, trance had slightly faded away (not for me, but globally) but now it seems to be really kicking off again, especially in America. It’s not the same in every country though, in some places it’s really struggling like the UK for instance. There’s nothing really happening in the UK at the moment. Scotland has a few things going on, but it is nowhere near as big as it was back in the day, but hopefully it will come back round again soon. As one country dies away, another country will pop back up again. So I think the trance scene in general globally is quite strong. There is so much going on in the US right now, it’s a really great place for us to play. Frank just got his new US visa sorted out last week, so you are going to see him a lot next year I expect..along with me haha. It is always time to crack open the champagne when you get the new US visa approved, it’s a pretty long, drawn-out and tedious process lol. It’s always worth it to play over here at the big events and class clubs though.
Scotland is home to some amazing tech-trance artists. What makes this particular genre so popular there? You have been spearheading the tech-trance revolution for some time, where do you want to see the genre go next?
Mark: I think in Scotland, well in Scotland and Ireland actually, has always been full of mad party-animals for as long as I can remember haha. We have always liked the harder stuff, you know. There is a big following for uplifting trance here, but the whole place just goes absolutely nuts if you drop the harder/techier gear. In the UK, if you go from south to north, the further north you go, the harder it gets musically, people want it to go harder and faster haha.
I am happy for tech-trance to stay where it is sitting at the moment to be honest, it’s never going to be that big genre that crosses over into the charts, like EDM did (which is a good thing). For myself and Frank, it has always been a really big chunk of what we play in our sets, so if stays as popular as it is just now then I’ll be really happy with that.
Frank: Yeah we have never aimed to be famous or feature on the regular charts, the scene we come from is underground – it’s ‘dance music’ so it’s for clubs. It’s not really for listening to on YouTube or when you’re sitting and drinking coffee, it’s made for clubs, DJs and night life. Back in the day, I have had some questions from the old record label like ‘Frank can you add a little bit more vocal and some more commercial tracks.’ and I was like ‘no, why?’. I make music and have a special life that I love. It is my passion, to supply music for the DJs that will play it in the sweaty clubs, like the rave kind from the 90s. I have to always keep that picture in the back of my mind when I produce a track still. I am about clubbing, sweating, dancing and having a good time, and those little moments, those trance moments, where you get like goose-bumps, I just love that. It is not about being commercial and stuff, not at all!
Mark: Yeah exactly, for me my old Public Domain days were some of the best of my life, but also the worst. There was a crazy amount of pressure put on us by record labels to produce the next big ‘top 40’ hit singles. We had three top 40 singles in the space of 2 years, but the pressure that they kept putting on us to perform eventually killed our positive/creative studio vibes. It was like what the hell do these guys actually expect from us? But now, I am easily the happiest that I have ever been, because I can go into the studio (and I know Frank does as well) and just write a track that’s strictly for my dance floors without any pressure or thinking about commercial success. You are not thinking about how much money it’s going to make or anything like that, or whether a record label executive guy will be happy with it. We are our own bosses now, so if we like the end product then it gets released, that’s about as complicated as it gets! You don’t have to wait 6 weeks for a record label to tell you that your track is too underground by a guy that’s been sitting in an office and hasn’t been to a rave in 15 years lol.
Frank: The record labels and big executives are something of the past. Now you can just release something on Soundcloud or YouTube and get famous over-night. You don’t need to be part of a big label machine anymore. But if you do sign with them, look at the albums, look at the tracks. Like Martin Garrix, when he released his ‘Animal’ track. To be honest, when he first released it I liked it… bah bah bah animals, I loved it! It was new fresh stuff, I played it, but what has he released since then, it’s just pop music, chart music. I don’t know if they love that stuff or not, that’s fine, but for me it sounds like it’s just about money and him being commercial. If that is the way they want to go, I am happy, that is fine, but I wouldn’t play any of his tracks now. I played ‘Animals’ once when it came out with some of the remixes and stuff, but everything else after I wouldn’t touch it…It is just commercial, not my cup of tea.
Finally, if you could only live by one motto what would it be?
Mark: Go Hard or Go Home. (Laughing, looks at frank) I know what you are thinking
(Mark to Frank): you have to come up with one now, what is your motto, no pressure
Frank: Always forward never look backwards