Mark Doyle: Head honcho of Hed Kandi

As head honcho of Hed Kandi, Mark Doyle is a man in demand all over the globe. A&R, producer, DJ, remixer and promoter, Doyle has had hands in quite a few pies over the years. About to embark on the Australian leg of the Hed Kandi world tour, inthemix discovered a little about Hed Kandi’s history, and what Doyle’s been keeping himself busy with of late.

How did Hed Kandi initially start out?

It grew from me being a DJ, where ultimately you are compiling a CD every night to an audience in a club… except they don’t get to keep it at the end of the night. Compilations used to be about hearing great new music that you’d hear on a night out, or new music that it was difficult to collect. Unfortunately as the dance market exploded it become too difficult for smaller companies to compete with the major labels and everything ended up sounding the same. At the start it was a simple idea, to produce a compilation I would go out and buy myself. At the age of 30 I simply couldn’t find a CD that featured good new music that wasn’t mixed by some superstar DJ. I wanted a CD that gave me new music in great packaging. I wanted a CD that was more like compilations from 10 years ago along the lines of Streetsounds and Mastercuts… The packaging had to reflect the quality and collectability and generally be something with a little more life than a 40 track sound like every other CD that was on the shelf.

You also ran a radio show, correct?

At the time I was working for Jazzfm, a UK based radio station, abd I pitched the concept of a late night show that would play a range of good music from deep house to disco to chillout and off the back of that we would launch a CD series and they went for it… thus hed kandi was born. Luckily as a radio station Jazzfm had few opinions about how compilations should be made and they kind of gave me enough rope to hang myself. The idea of a CD with only 24 tracks on it, an expensive digi-pack with a magnet, and very focused advertising, would have been thrown out by all the major labels.

The cover art is quite unique, where did the idea for that style of design come from?

The whole package had to be quality and that meant the cover was just as important. I knew that I wanted an illustration instead of a photo as an illustration can convey a more fantasy-like, ideal world. I had seen images by an artist on flyers from 1996 these were the early drawings of Jason Brooks while he was still at University. I had no idea who he was or how to find artwork like it… but the strangest thing happened 4 weeks before the artwork was due on Nu Cool and Serve Chilled in 1999 a leaflet dropped out of a magazine I was reading with the very same artwork on it advertising a perfume… On the inside page was Jason’s contact details. I pitched the whole idea to him and he joined up.

How has Hed Kandi grown?

Well we’ve moved from producing 6 compilations a year to signing artist projects (3 albums next year) launching 2 new labels Stereo Sushi and Acid Lounge and taking the club concept of hed kandi out to the masses. We now have 6 residencies in various parts of the UK, one in Barcelona, one in Vancouver and a variety of one off events throughout the world. The radio show is broadcast on Jazzfm in the UK in London and the Northwest and we’ve just secured a regular 2 hour Friday night slot on Galaxy one of the biggest UK dance radio stations.

How do you decide what theme to go for with the Hed Kandi CDs?

It’s not so much that we won’t do what everyone else is… it’s more that if we cant do it better we won’t bother. We were running a very successful chillout series called Serve Chilled but the market got so overloaded with chillout Ibiza type comps that we felt we couldn’t do a CD that presented enough new music that hadn’t been compiled 75 times already, so we rested that concept for a while.

How long have you been DJing?

Nearly 20 years it all started with school discos… moved onto promoting club nights and then there was a brief spell of karaoke that we don’t talk about!

And producing, how did that come about?

About 4 years ago I started doing a couple of remixes and scored a big remix hit with a trance mix of a track called Warm Weather. After getting my fingers burned on that a little dealing with the artist and the major label I decide it was best to produce my own material which I now do as Fac15 with a singer called Cathi, and the real musical talent, a producer called Chris Bemand.

Your last Australian and NZ tour was a bit of a disaster I hear, what happened?

Yup we had a bit of a nightmare tour in Australia and NZ with a promoter who managed to get us out to Australia and NZ and promote a series of gigs in our name and not pay anyone including us. We made the decision to do all the gigs knowing we were going to get shafted as it’s a little hard to explain to the audience that the night isn’t happening because of internal politics. Had an absolute blast in NZ at Coast and there was a bar we went to in Auckland which I believe was called Q Bar, but it’s all a bit hazy, and it involved an 8 hour set and an awful lot of messiness! Australia made me consider emigrating due to a storming night at the Arthouse in Sydney, and the Prince in Melbourne was great too.

Be sure to catch Mark Doyle on the Australian leg of the Hed Kandi world tour:

Oct 3: Monastery, Brisbane
Oct 4: Kink @ Arthouse, Sydney (BUY TICKETS)
Oct 5: Heaven, Adelaide
Oct 9: Capitol, Gold Coast
Oct 12: Minque, Canberra