Mark England, is a 52 year old producer from Wakefield in the UK. Mark developed a passion for music at an early age but never followed it up, due to life’s unpredictable eventualities. However, due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the fulltime IT professional found the time to put his passion to task, releasing a series of acclaimed singles.
- When and how did you get started producing music and do you have any formal training?
Mark England: I’ve always had an interest in music but it wasn’t until we entered lockdown at the beginning of last year that I started to take it more seriously, I played a few of my early tracks to my mate Graham who encouraged me to release my music commercially. Everything I have learnt in the last 12 months has either been self-taught or from collaborating with other producers
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and producer, and the transition towards your own style?
Mark England: I guess I’m still learning and developing as an artist and producer, but you’re right you do tend to look towards similar artists to yourself at the beginning of your career. I do feel my sound and style is starting to come through now which each new release.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Mark England: The very first band to have an impact on me was The Human League, back in the day their use of synths to create that distinct 80s sound was groundbreaking. I remember listening to their classic ‘Don’t you want me’ as a teenager and thinking how futuristic it sounded, after all these years it still sounds fresh
- What do you feel are the key elements people should be getting out of your music?
Mark England: To enjoy what they hear and to feel some kind of emotion, whether that’s happiness, sadness or that for those few minutes they are listening to it they are taken away from the everyday life and the pressures and stresses we all have to deal with.
- What do you think separates you from the crowd of producers emerging right now?
Mark England: I think as artists and producers we all have something that makes us stand out, one way or another, whether that be our age, our experiences, upbringing or social standing. These are the things that make you an individual and what makes your music unique to you.
- What is your process when composing a beat? Where do start, and what comes into your head first – the tune or the rhythm?
Mark England: It depends, I can see something or hear something that provokes an idea, other times I can be playing around with sounds when a melody or a beat will develop and I take it from there. I have been known to start work on a track then abandon it part way through production, either because its not sounding like I intended to be or I’ve simply lost interest! I don’t delete them though, they’re all still on my hard drive and who knows I might revisit them at some point.
- How strict are you with genres? Are you comfortable working with most genres and styles and what is your preferred style?
Mark England: I do like to work with different genres, I think it’s good to put yourself outside of your comfort zone every once in a while and to push yourself. It’s what makes you grow as an artist and a producer and helps take your skills to another level. But EDM always has and always will be in my blood, it’s the genre that’s started me on this journey and it’ll continue to be a part of it.
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your production?
Mark England: It’s difficult to say, I think this depends on how I’m feeling at the time, my music is my way of expressing myself, so my mood and thoughts when I’m producing a track do have an impact on the overall sound and feel.
- How much do current popular songs from the radio or club scene influence your music, creative approach and/or production decisions? Is it something you pay attention to?
Mark England: I don’t listen to the charts, I find they aren’t relevant to me or my music, same goes with the radio. I like to seek out new music through playlists on the streaming services and of course I do like to keep my finger on the pulse when it comes to EDM/Dance music. I think to some degree the music I listen to does have elements that find their way into my music.
- What’s your favorite ‘guilty pleasure’ song? One that’s as far removed from your chosen music genre as we could hope to guess?
Mark England: I’ve often been told I have a very eclectic taste in music and I listen to most things, IU think a lot of people would be surprised by some of my playlists! However my guilty pleasure song is ‘Malambo Number 1‘ by Yma Sumac, I mean it’s just totally bonkers but her voice is amazing, I remember reading somewhere her vocal range is like 4-5 octaves which is breathtaking.
- What were some of the main challenges, difficulties or goals when starting out as a producer and how have they changed over time?
Mark England: When I first started out I didn’t have a clue about the commercial music production, distribution, artwork and releasing and promoting music all of which I have had to learn very quickly seeing as there’s just me and I also work full-time as an IT developer! I’m a lot more confident now in most aspects of the business and I think it’s definitely a case of the more you do it the easier it becomes.
- What was your first hardware/software set-up as a producer like? Has your setup evolved since then, and what for you is the most important piece of gear in your production process right now?
Mark England: I originally started producing with just my iMac, FL Studio snd a pair of cheap headphones! Now I’m using Presonus Studio One, Nektar Impact LX25, Focusrite Scarlett solo and a host of plugins I’ve purchased over the past 12 months. I think my new MacBook is the most important piece of kit, it enables me to get ideas down wherever I am and whenever rather than having to wait until I’m back home in the studio, which incidentally is my spare room and also doubles up as the office for my day job, as you can imagine its becoming quite crowded the more equipment I purchase!
- Which aspect of being an independent producer excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Mark England: I like the fact that I’m in complete control of the end to end process of producing my music, I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. The most discouraging aspect though is that it’s extremely difficult to get your music heard, especially on the streaming platforms. I don’t mean releasing the music but to grow organically and build up listeners and followers takes a lot of hard work, I mean you’re literally competing against artists who have whole teams and businesses built around them.
- Though music has no age limitations whatsoever, at 52 years of age, what drives you more than anything else to pursue your craft as an EDM producer?
Mark England: My passion, aside from IT which is my full-time job, I’ve found something that I really enjoy doing and I’m damn good at! I want to continue to be the best that I can be (and I know it sounds cliché) but to show others that when you find something you enjoy and you’re good at it, build on your talent and go with it, never let anyone or anything try to stop you.
- In general, do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Mark England: Having a strong online presence is an absolute must if you want to get your music out there, it’s the one part of the business I’m currently trying to understand more snd get to grips with. I’ve used social media on a personal level but not as a business (which I guess I am). I’ve recently been setup with an official artist YouTube channel by my distributor and I was like ‘erm, right what do I do with this?’
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Mark England: Upbeat and infectious!
- Could you tell us something about your latest release?
Mark England: ‘My latest single ‘Take me away’ is released 14th June and I wanted with this track I wanted to pay homage to the sound of the 90s. During that era I was working away from home at a holiday camp, most of us working there were on our 20s, young free and single and only cared about having a good time! The whole music scene at that time was acid house music and illegal raves, I remember the nights we spent dancing away til dawn in a disused warehouse to The Prodigy, Shamen, SL2, Snap, Blackbox and the like. It brings back so many good memories and I’m hoping it does for others of a similar age to myself.
- Do you have a favorite track among your releases, which maybe has an interesting backstory and/or message that is important to you?
Mark England: I don’t have one favorite so I’d like to flip the question on its head and tell you my least favorite! ‘Impossible’ this was the first ever track I produced although it was the second one to be released. I listen to it now and cringe at how poor the production was, I think about how many aspects of it could sound so much better having the skills and techniques I know now. Ironically though it’s my most consistently streamed song so someone likes it!
- If you had the choice to produce for any current international artist today, who would that be, and why?
Mark England: Absolutely would be Madonna, I love her drive and determination to defy the stereotypes forced up on her by the industry. Whether you love her or hate her she’s got a fantastic work ethic and is very hands on with the production side of things which I think shows in the quality of her music. I’d love her to ring me up and say here, take this track and do with it what you will!! Maybe one day, you never know……
- Do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Mark England: I need to learn not to be so critical of myself and my work, I can spend hours and hours perfecting and changing things and even after a release I will hear things I don’t like or things I wish I could change. I suspect most artists are like that though, it’s what makes you and your music grow, but there needs to be point at which you draw a line and say yep that’s it job done!