Mark Henning‘s diverse musical career has seen him produce minimal, house and techno for an array of labels including Freude Am Tanzen, Trapez, Hypercolour and Mike Shannon’s Cynosure imprint over a period of ten years. In 2008 Mark quit his city job in London and relocated to Berlin with his wife to focus on music – a move that occasioned his ‘Jupiter Jive’ LP on Soma. So far in 2014 Mark has released his debut EP for his own label ‘Swing‘, serving up two slabs of stomping 3am warehouse style tracks. We caught up with Mark to discuss ‘Swing’, as well as his earlier ambitions.
What have you been up to in 2014 thus far?
It’s been pretty busy so far. After releasing a new EP on Soma right at the start of the year and escaping the Berlin winter for a couple of weeks with the family I’ve been travelling a fair bit and working hard in the studio.
Where in the UK are you from and what was it like growing up there? What kind of music did you experience whilst growing up?
I grew up on the outskirts of London – Buckinghamshire to be precise. It was fairly quiet to be honest… it’s a nice rural area. I was very much an indie kid. I played guitar and was in a band at school. I was mostly into US bands such as Pavement, Afghan Whigs, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine and so forth. Later when I was 18 or so I got into some dance stuff like Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, UNKLE.
Are there any albums from your teenage years that you still go back and listen to?
I read that you were a fan of Drum ‘n’ Bass, how far into that scene did you delve? Did you used to collect cassette packs, go to One Nation, Helter Skelter and illegal raves?
Yeah for sure… I went to Helter Skelter and bought the odd cassette pack for my Vauxhall Nova. I was into D&B between 1997 and 2000 whilst at Birmingham University. I played a fair bit in the city. After that I felt that it all went a bit shit. Though I spent a year in Berlin in 1999/2000 studying, so that very much also persuaded me to move to techno.
When did you decide to move to Berlin? What factors helped persuade you to relocate?
My wife and I just wanted to leave the UK for a while. We decided in 2007 and in 2008 we moved. Barcelona and Berlin were our top choices of places to live. My wife got a job in Berlin so that made up our mind for us. The fact that it was so cheap compared to the UK was a big factor. I quit my old city job at exactly that time to pursue music full time so we didn’t want it to be a total struggle.
Since you released your debut EP in 2004, how have your production techniques developed?
They’ve developed significantly… for about 10 years I only produced music with my computer. It was only after moving to Berlin in 2008 and seeing how other people worked that I started to build up a proper studio.
Tell me about your new Soul Catcher EP on Swing – When and where did you write the two tracks?
I wrote both tracks in my home studio in Berlin. They had both gone through many, many different iterations before I was finally happy with them. I started ‘Yellow’ about 3 years ago!
Apart from the studio, do you have a preferred environment to write music in?
Not really, my current setup means I don’t write music on the go.
Are there any methods of production that you want to further explore?
In terms of dance music – after trying out many different tools I’m very happy with my current setup based around a super-tight hardware sequencer (Sequentix Cirklon). Otherwise in the future I’d love to work with some bands… I’m still very much an indie/rock fan – I barely listen to any dance music in my spare time.
Over your career you’ve released record with Soma, Freude Am Tanzen, Trapez LTD, Hypercolour, Mike Shannon’s Cynosure imprint and many more. How do you decide what labels to release on?
For many years I didn’t have any kind of strategy. But these days I can’t be bothered to send demos and wait and wait and wait for a response. So from now on I will be only releasing music on my own label Swing, Soma and perhaps another label or two with which I have a close personal connection.
Describe the mix you have recorded for Inverted Audio. What was the thought process behind the mix?
It’s just a selection of my favourite current tunes… tracks that I’ve played out a lot over the past months. I’m mostly known for my releases as opposed to my DJ skills, so it’s important for me to show people that there’s more to me than just my productions.
Are there any records have you been heralding so far this year?
There are too many to choose from… though just this week I picked up a DJ Deeon re-release (originally on Dance Mania) on Chiwax… Love this record so much (thanks to Trus’me for the headsup!)
What can we expect from Mark Henning for the rest of this year?
I want to put out another EP on Soma and Swing but probably not much more than this as my wife and I are expecting our second baby! Things are going to get crazy busy!Mark HenningHypercolourSomaSwingHouseTechno