The dance music world was saddened a few weeks ago by the news that Mark Bell from LFO had passed away.
Mark was a well-liked industry figure who went on to work with Bjork and Depeche Mode after making his mark as LFO with music partner Gez Varley in the hardcore era.
There's now a campaign to get 'LFO' by LFO — their seminal bleep track — to No.1 in the Uk charts in honour of Mark's legacy. DJ Mag spoke to Gez Varley about his time with Mark in LFO, and the
Hi Gez, it was obviously very sad to hear about the untimely passing of Mark Bell, your partner in the original LFO — what do you remember most fondly, on a human level, about your time working together?
“Yeah, I have a lot of fond memories about Mark. We really had a similar sense of humour and taste in music, so working together was really fun. We really used to bounce off each other in the studio, and normally after a cool session we'd hit a bar or club afterwards to relax.Was a lot of good times.”
You had great success early on, in the hardcore rave dayz around the time of the birth of Warp. How did you initially hook-up, and why did the music come out how it did?
“We first really met in 1984 in Leeds as rival breakdancers (we grew up in different parts of the city), so we kind of knew each other back then. We met up again in 1988 on a photography course in Leeds, quickly became friends and started to make music together along with another mate of ours — DJ Martin (Martin Williams).
“So we were influenced by groups like 808 State, Unique 3, Nightmares On Wax, Forgemasters and also stuff like Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Detroit techno, acid house and early electro. So when we first hooked up and made tunes together, we just wanted to rock the dancefloor at our local club The Warehouse — Martin was a resident DJ there for a while...”
Did you ever think that 'LFO' would get into the charts?
“We knew LFO 'LFO' was a killer track as soon as we had done it, but we had no idea how big it would be. We just thought it would sell between 1000-5000 units. Yeah, it's totally amazing when I look back now at what we all achieved. 130,000 sales — mental!”
You must have had quite a crazy time back then... What mad occasions particularly stand out?
“There´s so many crazy occasions I really need to write a book about it... Getting on the wrong flights... turning up at the wrong airports... losing passports. Getting stuck in strange countries for days on end, lol. It was always fun though, somehow!”
Why did you and Mark eventually part ways with LFO in 1996?
“After eight years of LFO, I'd finally had enough. We toured a lot and it got a bit stressful for the both of us towards the end. Also, Mark wanted to go in a different direction for the third album, and I also wanted to concentrate on my solo project G-Man.”
What have you done since?
“I moved to Germany for some years and recorded for various labels like K7, Force-Inc, Overdrive and loads of others. Also I worked with Marco Carola, Thomas Heckmann, Nadja Lind and played loads of gigs around Europe in all the top clubs like Berghain, Omen, Nature One and so on.”
What did you think of the stuff he subsequently did, with Bjork etc?
“I've actually not heard so much of it, so I can't really comment on it. I heard the third album he did as LFO, and I really liked a couple of tracks on there like 'Freak' — pretty good stuff.”
Mark's death must've come as a real shock – how do you hope he is remembered?
“Yeah, Mark's sad passing was a real shock, I always thought I'd be the first to go way before him. I still find it hard to come to terms with. I hope Mark will be remembered by the public for the amazing music he did ...and people that knew him personally will remember what a down to earth guy he was, with a wicked sense of humour.”
Are you behind this 'Get LFO to No.1 this Xmas' campaign?
“Yes, totally, I think it's a great idea — and I can't think of any better way to honour him.”
Keep an eye on the campaign's Facebook and Twitter sites to find out the best download stores to buy 'LFO' on, and when...