Interview: Mark Broom
Mark Broom has enjoyed a long and fruitful career within the UK’s techno scene. An intensely prolific producer, the East Londoner has released an almost unrivalled plethora of tracks on a host of renowned labels. His early career saw releases on innovating imprints such as Mo Wax, Warp, Pure Plastic, R&S and then Soma before he moved onto the likes of BPitch Control and more recently Rotary Cocktail and Ralph Lawson’s 20:20 Vision. It’s hard to imagine then, that his latest album, out on Nic Fanciulli’s Saved Records, is only the second album under his own name. Fifteen years after Angie Is a Shoplifter, his sophomore effort Acid House is somewhat of a departure from Broom’s traditional style. With a sound less akin to the record’s title and more focused on a crossover between techno and disco, Acid House is Broom’s most intriguing work to date. Juno Plus writer Tom Jones caught up with Broom to talk about the new album, the future and the healthy state of techno in 2010 and beyond.
You have been such a prolific producer throughout your career – how have you so successfully managed to balance quantity with quality?
Well, that’s the $64,000 question isn’t it? I’ve always had a passion for the music since I started out. And I’ve always been in the studio really, almost every day. So I suppose if you put a lot of time and effort into it, and you get good results at the end of the line. It’s down to working away and keeping at it.
Over this time you have tended to go for twelve inches and mix CDs so much more than the album format. Why is that?
Well I have done other albums but under other names. Obviously, this is only the second one under my own name but I’ve done three albums with my mate Dave Hill – two under the name Rue East and one as Visitor. But it’s sometimes tricky and timing is always important when you’re doing an album. You don’t want to do one just for the sake of it and I thought for me personally, this year was a good time to do another Mark Broom album because I’ve been building up my productions over the last two or three years and gone in a different direction to the music I was making previously to that. So I thought it was the perfect time for me to bring out a long player. Like I said, I’m always in the studio and I’m always doing a lot of stuff and different styles, so I thought it was a good time to really show people what I’m about as a producer on a range of styles. The tracks were all there, it was just waiting for the right time to bring them out. It’s all about what’s the best time for the artist involved to do it, because if you just put them out for the sake of it then nine times out of 10 they won’t hit the spot.
The music industry has changed considerably since you’ve been around. Have you noticed that change whilst working with people like Saved Records in comparison to Pure Plastic or say, Warp or Mo Wax?
When I did my first album, back in 96’, obviously there was techno and house but there weren’t as many genres back then. That’s all it was; techno and house. Nowadays you’ve got so many different genres of music that it’s actually quite confusing for people. Back then, what we were making was techno, so over the years that’s the only thing that I’ve seen change – the naming of the music. Nowadays what I make is classed as tech-house, minimal or whatever – it gets confusing! So for me, the name changing over the years for the style of music that you’re making is the only thing. Like I was saying, back in 95’ / 96’ it was more just pure techno. I wouldn’t say Detroit influenced because I wasn’t really, I was more of an acid house influenced guy but Detroit techno became the name since then.
Was the process behind making Acid House markedly different from you first started making music?
Yeah, well the first album I did, I just did it in literally a couple of weeks. I just went in the studio and bashed out the tracks, whereas with Acid House, I had tracks that I was holding back, waiting for the right sort of time to bring them out. I sent a batch over to Nick who liked them and we were on the right wavelength for an album project. I think I made three or four fresh tunes but the bulk of them were made over the last year. They weren’t made as an album project, I just made tracks as I usually do and before I knew it I had fourteen or fifteen tracks that all gelled together and became the Acid House album.
What do you think it takes to make a good techno album and where did your inspiration come from?
Well, obviously quality is a big issue, so you need to have some good quality tunes. For me, this album is more of a DJs album because all the tracks are designed for the dancefloor, there’s no sort of fillers on there, no ambient interludes, nothing like that; it’s just a straight up dancefloor album. I’m a DJ and I’m DJing every week, and therefore I always make dancefloor tunes – I never make any weird tracks or ambient numbers. With this one, I wanted to go completely down the dancefloor direction and make a real DJs album.
“Lemon”, taken from that album, is already getting some great reactions. Has that installed more confidence in you around the album’s release?
Well for example, the “Lemon” track is over a year old now, I’ve busted that out so many times and it always went down well, so I knew that combining that sort of sneaky disco element but with a more techno drum approach worked well. I knew I was onto the right wavelength with that sort of style and that’s the sort of crossover style that I like, you’ve got the techno underbelly with the drums and the ride but you’ve also got that cheeky disco influence in there too.
There are rumours about a forthcoming LP between you and James Ruskin – what’s the story there?
James and I did our first collaboration earlier this year, the No Time Soon EP. As you do when you go out DJing with your mates, we’ve been saying that we should do something together and basically I had three skeleton ideas and sent them over to James and we finished them off at his place. The reaction we got was amazing – it went down really well! We also both liked the idea of working together, so we decided it would be a good idea to maybe do something a bit more permanent with an album project for next year.
So that will be for 2011?
Yeah. I think we’ll get a twelve inch out this year because we’re just working on two tracks at the moment; James is just putting the finishing touches to one of them. Obviously that’s if we’ve got enough tracks (laughs). We’ve got a lot of ideas floating around, so that’s a really exciting project I think. You know, it’s unusual for two techno, dare I say it, heavyweights, to come together and put something down like that, so it will be good for the scene. I like collaborating with people, I think it’s really good and not a lot of people do it nowadays. It shows people that it ain’t all about one person, you can spread your wings and spread the love so to speak.
Talking of the techno scene, what do you make of it right now? What with everyone talking about the house revival and the like?
I think the techno scene is coming back strong again. One of my heroes, Robert Hood, he’s been prolific this year, putting out some amazing stuff so it’s really encouraging when people like that come back because it gives you a boost. With techno, it’s always there, just underneath doing its thing; it’s not really part of the fashion. I mean techno is solid, it’s always going to be there and I just love the music. I think next year will be a really good time for techno again. Especially if me and James do something and you’ve got Edit Select, he’s doing a lot of good stuff, even Chris Liebing’s label is coming back with a lot of stuff, Sandwell District, Dettmann, Klock, Norman Nodge, there’s a lot of people out there pushing it and it looks healthy.
Apart from who you just mentioned, are there any up and coming techno producers that you are really digging at the moment?
Well, I like Gary Beck; he’s definitely one to watch. Well, I mean his name is quite out there now but he is doing some really interesting stuff. I like Skudge; I really liked the first two records they did so it will be interesting to see what they come up with next!
Interview: Tom Jones