Mark Norman: Two heads are better than one

If you’ve been keeping up with the tech-trance scene over the past year or so, you might know the name Mark Norman. Actually comprised of 2 people, Mark de Jong and Norman Lenden, the production duo have been going from strength to strength with releases on Magik Muzik, Black Hole, In Trance We Trust  and remixes for the likes of TiĆ«sto, Signum, Three Drives and more. ITM caught up with the duo to see what’s been happening for them.

ITM: Hi Guys, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us. What’s been happening recently for you guys, musically?

Hello people from down under… things are going very fast at the moment. Three months ago we finished our first artist album ‘Synchronicity’ and the reactions so far are amazing. Also there comes a vinyl album sampler and a new 12 inch vinyl release. So a lot of new stuff is coming out. Also we finished remixes for DJ Shokk and Precision vs Terry Bones and at the moment we are busy with some fresh experimental tracks!

ITM: Your profile seems to have risen very quickly when compared to some other names who never seem to crack that big release or remix, but just how long have you guys been producing together for?

Well we know each other for more that fourteen years now. We started producing at the age of 14 and in that time we worked with one sample keyboard and FT2. Also we used to make mixing tapes and that’s how we learned to create music. During the years we saved money and bought equipment and in 2000 we sent some demo tapes to record companies, then signed a contract at BPM dance, which at the time was the home base of Signum, Randy Katana and Mac Zimms. Our first release came out in 2001 and was immediately picked up by BBC1 Radio DJ Judge Jules. Unfortunately BPM went bankrupt in 2003 and we decided to contact Tiesto. After hearing our demo Tiesto offered us a contract and from that time we were releasing records at Magik Muzik!

ITM: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

That’s very difficult because you experience a lot of new things and everything is a highlight. Your first record, the first time you reached the number 1 spot, the first time you received an award, the first time you DJ at a big festival. But to be honest I think that our first artist album is the highlight of our career so far!

ITM: Was it easy to work together in the beginning or did you guys just ‘click’ as it were?

From the beginning it felt very natural. So it was very easy, and still is, to work together. It feels like something magic when we are together in the studio. Really weird.

ITM: Do you prefer DJing or producing as mean a means of expression through music?

We both like producing and DJing. But as you might know Norman is the deejay. With producing we can express our feelings in one single track and as a deejay you can create an atmosphere with a lot of tracks which is every time different. But it is a privilege to create an atmosphere with your own tracks!

ITM: Are there any plans for a trip down under in the near future? Have you had any offers for tours?

Yes we had some offers a few months ago but at that time we were busy in the studio completing our artist album. Because we had to finish it in August we worked really hard. But at the moment our agent is working hard to arrange a tour in Australia. We think we are coming over in April 2006 and we are really looking forward to it. We heard a lot of good stories of the scene in Australia!

ITM: What are some new releases/remixes we should look out for coming up?

Well the album is one thing to look out for! We produced a lot of fresh new tracks which are ready to rock the crowd. Touch Down / False Vegas is coming out within 2 months at Magik Muzik and also we are busy remixing a famous 80s band.

ITM: Is your studio setup dominated by software or hardware? Do you see an advantage or disadvantage to either?

We use a lot of software at the moment. We also work with hardware such as Mackie 32 channel analog mixer and Avalon EQ compressor, supernova and Roland MC 505.  The big advantage of software is that it is much cheaper than hardware and you don’t have to own a big studio. The software nowadays is very easy to use and the sounds are of good quality.

ITM: Who are some of your favourite producers to listen to, both in and outside of dance music?

We listen to very different types of music. We like U2 and Moby. In dance music it is very difficult to point out one good producer because there are so many producers who have produced good records. But Deep Dish is one of our favourites!

ITM: How much have those producers influenced your own music?

We started to listen to dance music because of the mix compilation series called “Forbidden Paradise”. This compilation CD was mixed by Tiesto in his early days 1996-1999. That was the first contact we had with trance music and is still one of the best compilations ever. From that time on our dream was to produce a record that featured on this compilation series, unfortunately this series are no longer made anymore but we now produce records for the label which is owned by  Tiesto himself.

ITM: What’s been your favourite Mark Norman production so far?

That is a difficult question but I think Overkill is one of our favourites. That track has so much impact on the dancefloors. Really unbelievable.

ITM: What do you like to do when not in the studio? Does it ever get to be too much and you need a break?

We can not sit for 8 hours in the studio so we need some breaks to clear our heads. If we are not in the studio we are always busy with other things that have to do with music like DJing, meeting people, management, etc.

ITM: Finish this sentence, ‘The perfect track should have…’

Contrast, emotion and power!

ITM: Thanks for taking time to talk to us! Hope to see you guys out here soon.

You’re welcome and hope to see you all one day down under!

Mark Norman’s debut album ‘Synchronicity’ is out now through Magik Muzik.