Hello, Mark? Crikey, it’s loud over there. What’s going on?
I’ll just come in here now so I can hear myself think.
Are you at home?
No, I’m in the Toolroom office.
Those are your colleagues? They sounded like kids…
Yeah, it’s like a playschool here some days! And it’s busy. I’ve literally been back [in the UK] for one day; I was just in South America and Los Angeles.
You do a lot of travelling then?
Oh, absolutely. It’s a killer, but it’s the best job in the world, so you can’t complain. You just have to forego your personal life and your social life to have that career. So you fly all over and never spend any time anywhere.
And now you’re coming to Dubai.
Well that’s one of the destinations in the world where you stay longer because you’re guaranteed sunshine. But usually it’s only a matter of a few hours – you get in, you play the set and you leave.
What will you be playing out here?
Just loads of new projects that I’m working on, loads of new music from me, loads of upfront stuff from Toolroom, and some classics that I’ve edited to make it a unique show. It should be good fun.
Is it hard to balance new and old?
If you do it in the right way, you can really push the envelope. DJing is a really psychological thing. The technical aspect you can learn in a week, but the big thing is reading the situation and knowing how far you can push the crowd without killing the night.
So how did you get to where you are now?
It’s the same as anyone else really – you start at local bars and clubs playing for nothing, then you make records and the goalposts begin to move. It’s all production-driven these days.
Getting excited about a DJ because he made a good track always struck me as dumb. It’s like getting excited about Martin Scorsese being the projectionist at your local cinema.
I think that’s a valid point. They’re two completely different skill sets, and just because you made a big tune it doesn’t mean you’re a good DJ – far from it. And vice versa. There are guys who have one hit record and suddenly they’re on the big stage and they just can’t do it. But I’ve had steady growth over the last 11 years or so.
Kind of makes a mockery of the DJ Magazine polls…
I think that the DJ Magazine awards become a popularity poll rather than a measure of talent. It’s down to marketing and all those things that go around it, and if you focus your attention on generating votes then you’ll win.
It seems very calculated.
I think that’s the way the industry’s become – the whole thing is so corporate, institutionalised and established, that’s just part and parcel of it. Back in the day you could take it any way you wanted to go on a whim. But you’ve just got to play the game, really.
You’re quite businesslike with Toolroom.
I suppose that’s the secret of our success. There are too many labels that have gone wrong because the management can’t run a bath much less a record label, you know? You can release great tunes, but if you’re blowing your budget for next year, it’s good night Vienna.
You said that you gave up personal and social life for your work. What did you mean?
Well I haven’t had a day off this year. I like to hang out with my mates and play golf, that kind of thing, but it’s hard to do any of that. That’s the challenge, especially when you have a relationship – my girlfriend works with me, but if she didn’t it would be impossible. But I love DJing. I’m addicted.
What about the long term?
The whole point of having a business is to have a retirement plan. I don’t want to traipse around the world like this when I’m 50. I want to build up a business so that when I reach that age I can say, ‘Well I’ve had a brilliant time, now I’m going to go to Spain and play a lot of golf. Thanks very much!’