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Hard day's Knight

DJ Mag chat with Toolroom bossman Mark Knight

Mark Knight has come a long way since smashing tunes out of his parent's converted shed as a nipper (ever wondered why it's called Toolroom Records?). Since 2004, he's been bringing his own brand of potent, energy-infused house to clubs and festivals around the world, taking the sounds of the underground to the mainstream and gaining worldwide acclaim in the process. With hits like dancefloor pandemonium-starting 'Downpipe' and his remix of Laurent Garnier's 'The Man With The Red Face', it's no wonder Mark has managed to bag a Grammy nomination and make Toolroom Knights one of the most globally-successful club nights of all time.

Mark has been a busy boy this year. With Toolroom Knights returning to Ibiza for its second stint at the legendary Space nightclub, the housemaster has been appearing there every Wednesday night to make speakers quake and booties shake. Joining him at the round table are fellow Knights D. Ramirez, Butch, Riva Starr, John Dahlback, Funkagenda, Sander Van Doorn, Umek, Wally Lopez, Fedde Le Grand and a whole host of other dancefloor tycoons.

As if he didn't already have enough under his belt, Mark's rolling up his armoured sleeves to bring us his latest mix album, 'Toolroom Knights Ibiza 2012', out now. We caught up with the label boss during one of his rare periods of down-time...

How's it going Mark? Sounds like you've been busy recently. Tell us what you've been up to...

"Obviously the big thing at the moment is Ibiza; I’ve been there every week! We’re doing 19 shows in Ibiza so that’s consumed most of my time if I’m honest, concentrating on making the residency the best it can be. I have managed to get into get studio briefly with Sander van Doorn though – we’ve just done a new track – and I’ve also been working on the follow-up to the Bullets EP, plus a whole world of touring."

How does it feel to return to Space for your second Toolroom residency?

"Excellent, we’re loving it – loving being there! It’s really good having such a long season, it really gives us a chance to showcase the talent we’ve got involved on the label. I’m enjoying it, it’s hard work obviously doing that amount of shows but it’s a lot of fun, and we’re looking forward to being back next year."

How's the vibe been in Ibiza this summer?

"Great – It’s been one of the best years to date. There seems to be whole new raft of kids coming through that have embraced dance music, there’s a lot of fresh faces too, which is really cool. There’s a whole world of enthusiasm that comes along with that, so it’s been a great year."

Have you had any free time to enjoy the island? If so how, have you been spending it?

"Do y’know what, I’ve literally not had one single day to enjoy it! We even moved out there for a week with our little ‘un, and we had to actually move back because it was just too taxing with him being his age, so we haven’t enjoyed the island at all. Myself and my wife are looking to try and take a week’s break in September where we can hopefully enjoy it a bit."

What makes Ibiza so special for you?

"It’s such a magical place, I’ve been going there since 1989, and – it’s a bit of a cliché - but I fell in love with it. It has such a diverse amount of things to offer in terms of somewhere to be. You can do the whole club thing, and immerse yourself into that, or it’s got a whole different dimension that you can enjoy with restaurants, fantastic beaches and things like that. So it’s the whole package really as there’s some beautiful places to go. I think once you fall in love with it, that’s it – it always holds a special place in your heart."

Tell us about your upcoming album. What inspired it?

"The idea with the album is that it’s just a snapshot of what you can expect on the night when you come down on a Wednesday. Disc one is called the ‘El Salon’ mix; I’m doing some warm up sets before the party - six or seven through the season - where I get to play a lot deeper and cooler music that I really don’t get the opportunity to play that often, so that mix is a reflection of what I play there. Then disc two – ‘La Terazza’ is full of the more techno/tech-house bangers that you’d expect me to be playing peak time on the terrace. Previously I’ve always done albums that are a real journey from start to finish; this one is designed to give people the Toolroom Knights experience if they come to our night on Wednesday."

In your 'La Terraza' mix you've tried to capture the essence of the legendary Space terrace. Was this difficult? Why was this important to you?

"It hasn’t been difficult because I’ve played there that often, I know what works on that terrace! I must have played there 50 times so I have a real handle on what works. What’s difficult is trying to get all the new music crammed on there – there’s so much great music about, trying to whittle it down to just the winners, and then trying to make that work as a sequence, was very tough. But I’m happy with it; I think it’s turned out well and I think it’s exactly what works on our night on a Wednesday."

Are you working on any other projects at the moment? If so, can you give details?

"Yeah, been working on quite a bit of pop stuff actually, which is quite an exciting project! I’ve just done a new track with Tinie Tempeh and Calvin Harris, which I produced, and I’ve just produced a new Flo Rider single, plus I’m doing a thing for Tulisa. So yeah – I’m doing a whole other side project which is pretty cool, and has been a real interesting challenge and something I’m enjoying doing. Once that’s done and wrapped up I’m going to get back to working on my album; that’ll be the plan for the back end of the year."

What's next for Toolroom? Any more exciting upcoming releases or artists?

"Yeah – there’s loads of new albums and loads of new releases coming up in the back-end of the year. There’s new music from Funkagenda, there’s a new record from me and Sander Van Doorn, a new record from Michael Woods, plus bits to watch from Wehbba, Manuel De La Mare, Alex Kenji and loads more."

You're going to be knackered when the Ibiza season is done! Are you going to take some time to relax – if so, how? - or is it straight back to work?

"Unfortunately, there’s no rest for the wicked, there will be no time off! When we finish Ibiza there will be a one month UK tour around our birthday – more details to follow soon. After that I will just be working to finish the album off – that will be my sole focus for November & December – to get my head down get that finished!"

Words: Owen Hughes