Mark Norman: High hopes for Holland

Together Holland’s Mark de Jong and Norman Lenden form the DJ/producer project known as Mark Norman, responsible for many high-profile tracks and remixes over the last decade and signed to fellow Dutchman Tiesto’s label Magik Muzik label. There’s little doubt that Holland clicks with what these guys do: they’re one of the few electronic artists to have polled at #1 in the Dutch DJ Charts with almost every single release.

Now Australians will have another chance to get a feel for the Mark Norman experience. Norman Lenden is the touring DJ of the pair, and he’ll be in Australia this weekend for a series of gigs over the next month or so. ITM says hello to yet another high hope of the Dutch trance scene, from a country that seems to just keep on giving as far as quality electronic music is concerned.

Your music was originally inspired by artists such as the Pet Shop Boys, Kraftwerk and Enigma; you then joined a classical orchestra to create a unique project within dance music before settling with progressive trance. What would you say has been the main reason behind all these shifts in music genres?

First of all we love electronic music. Back in the days we were clubbers and I’ve been to a lot of illegal events. This was so much fun, and this was one of the main reasons we’re inspired to create our own music. We started to produce music at the age of 16. So that’s almost 15 years ago. Our first record was release in 1999 and from there it all started. We had some successful releases and because of that we got the request from a classical orchestra to do a special project with them, which was amazing. They rewritten our music and I was performing with them live. A very nice project.

You’re signed with Black Hole Recordings, Tiesto’s own Magik Muzik label. How did it feel at the time being privileged enough to be personally invited to sign with him?

We signed at Magik Muzik in 2003, which was a next step in our career. It is always nice that the major deejays are loving your music. It gives you extra motivation and self-respect. At that time it was cool to meet him and off course it helped us to develop in the way we are producing right now!

Your music is played by various radio stations and DJs all over the world, including Tiesto of course. From the beginning did you ever imagine your music would come this far?

When we started to produce music we didn’t had expectations and off course we were talking about how it should be when your music is played at radio and to have your own release. But we had to learn a lot and you can imagine that we were really proud when we received our first 12 inch release ever.

Your Synchronicity album from 2006 was your first full-length release, and was very well received at the time. What was it like for the two of you?

This album was a collection of our club tracks including Phantom Manor, Overkill, Stream etc. We were happy (still are) with this album and it showed our sound at that time.

Both of you have won many Dance awards including The Frysian Pop Award and Best Mix Of The Year by Kiss FM. What does it feel like to be celebrated by so many people?

Of course it is nice to win awards, but that’s not the reason to be in the business. I feel it as a sort of reward of years of hard working. We’ve spend so many hours together but also alone in the studio to produce tracks since we were 16 years old. We always talked about music and it seemed that that was the only thing we found interesting for many years. Sometimes it was hard to understand for our friends and family.

Being able to travel from city to city including Australia must be such an experience, not just for the two of you, but also your fans. Is there a certain venue you wish you could perform at again?

Yes I want to play in Beirut again. That was an amazing experience. I’ve never seen a crowd like that in my whole career! From start till end it was unbelievable. So enthusiastic and warm… crazy. I’ve played there a few years ago and they booked me again but then the war started so they postponed it. Hopefully in 2009 again.

From your experience and perspective, what are the key fundamentals to successfully performing to a live crowd?

I think it is important to read the crowd and to listen what they want. It is really important to feel what the party is like. I’ve also worked as a promoter and it is so important to have a good build up in the line up to create that magic atmosphere. I always want to be at the party one hour before to listen what the DJ before me is playing. I prefer to play three hours set cause then u can do a lot as a DJ and you can make the people going crazy.

What has been the greatest experience for the two of you so far?

We have experienced a lot of beautiful moments, but the ones who are still in top 3 are: playing mainstage Trance Energy for 20,000 people and my gig together with Enrique Iglesias on New Years Eve at Nikki Beach in St Barths.

The 80 Days Around The World tour was the one where you started to celebrate your mix album of the same name. What was it like at that stage, traveling around the world performing to live audiences in different cities?

This was a really nice concept which I did with my friend and colleague Cor Fijneman. It was so much fun to travel the world and meet a lot of different people. We’ve seen so many cultures and cities which was an experience I will never forget. The funny thing is that everywhere you come it is the same. I mean the people who are going out to clubs they want one thing: party.

Both of you have constructed some fantastic tracks including recently Restart, which received enormous applause. From the albums both of you have released can you say there is a particular favourite?

I still like the tracks we made in the beginning, but as technique is developing you can hear the difference in sound quality and that’s sometimes hard when you are DJing. One of my favourites is Overkill. This is the track is for me personally the track it al started with.

Where can you see the dance music scene in the Netherlands heading within the next five years?

I really have no idea. What I know is that a lot of people making music now cause it is easier to begin. Back in the days you needed a lot of hardware to create electronic music but now you just need a big computer. So therefore I think it is a new time in the music industry and I expect a lot of original music.

What does producing your own music mean for both of you?

For me it is a way of life. I can translate my feelings into music and to be independent. Every day I feel like lucky to do what I always wanted to do!

What future developments can we look forward as far as your music is concerned?

We released last year our 2nd artist album Colours which was more a listen album. Now we are working at some nice big room tunes like Restart, Overkill. The new Mark Norman single is finished and will be released in February 2009. Hands in the air tune. Also we are going to collaborate with PUSH known from some enormous hits like the Legacy, Univeral Nation etc. Really looking forward to that!

At this point now what do the both of you look forward to most in the New Year?

To be healthy and fit and that 2009 will be a positive year for all of us! And of course to come back in Australia!

Catch Mark Norman at the following shows…

17 Jan – Miss Libertines, Melbourne

30 Jan – Rise Nightclub, Perth

7 Feb – Trancefusion, Adelaide

14 Feb – Family Nightclub, Brisbane