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Breaking Berlin

The weird world of Mark Henning

As Panorama Bar’s 24-hour party people continue to lure the cream of British producers to Berlin, having Anglo-German heritage is probably the closest you can get to a dance music thoroughbred. Good news then for Mark Henning, whose off-kilter house and techno has been receiving serious underground support, and turning up on a broad spectrum of labels like Soma, Frankie, Tic Tac Toe and Clink in 2009 following previous releases on Cynosure, Trapez and Freude Am Tanzen.

Born in the UK to English and German parents, Mark joined the Berlin bandwagon last year, ditching the daily grind to make music full-time.

“I had a heavy job as a management consultant, so was only doing production in my spare time. In 2007 I started getting more gigs. I didn’t have time because my job was so stressful, so I thought, ‘I have to give this a go’. When my wife finished her PHD we moved. It’s a cliché but we love it,” he laughs, adding that King Roc, Jay Shepheard and Raw Hedroom share the same apartment block, and that the majority of his friends are American, Canadian and British ex-pats.

Debut album, ‘Jupiter Jive’, released on Soma in 2008, blended English eccentricity with late-night Teutonic minimalism, its mix of jacking drums and off-key atmospherics forging Mark’s signature.

“My tracks do have a wonky weirdness or darkness to them. No matter how much I try and make something obvious I always want to detune it or mash it up. There’s something in my brain that stops me making straight-up tracks.”

Latest single, the vertigo-inducingly deep percussive houser ‘The Right Way’ (out now on Hypercolour with remixes by Shenodas and Chris Simmonds) was inspired by the king of freaky himself.

“I was at Club der Visionaire and one of my friends was doing Rick James impressions,” he explains. “He couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him so I checked out his stuff and loved his crazy character and vocals, and had some resung.”

Dark, chugging B-side ‘Breakfast Club’ has also been getting club support.

“I did it quite a long time ago, with vocals from Big Bully from LA. It’s a bit straighter than I usually do but it’s my wife’s favourite from the last two years! She thinks it will do well so let’s see.”

With a free Beatport mix of Henning tracks (still available on his MySpace) raising his profile earlier in the year, and forthcoming releases including tracks on the newly-founded Vitalik, and a Mike Monday remix for OM, all bodes well for the soon come second album. But it’s a wonder he ever gets anything done.

“I live in Freidrichstein so Berghain and Watergate are a seven minute bike ride,” says Henning, explaining that being in such proximity to Berlin’s most famous club isn’t always good for staying focused. “I’ve still got a career to fall back on if it all goes pear-shaped… but I really don’t want to, having lived this lifestyle!”