Mark Knight Talks About His Style, Influences, and Side Projects in iEDM Exclusive Interview
DJ, producer, label owner, and businessman, Mark Knight has proven a rare and wonderful breed of musical heavyweight.
This British tech-house artist just boarded the party cruise Shipsomnia on The Mediterranean for five days of partying until sunrise and a one-on-one interview just for his fans, here's what he had to say:
iEDM: When did you decide you wanted to make music?
Mark Knight: Ever since I was a kid, although I didn't. I was absolutely absorbed with music and everything around it. I never learned music in school though. I was just all self-taught. In hindsight I wish I did study music because sometimes when you try to find that cord you wish you could adapt you wish you had it. I think it really started coming when I started DJing and I had so many ideas so I needed to learn production and bring all of that to life. So I learned it and the rest is history. I really started making music in my early 20s. I was always kind of more on the DJ side of things, but in terms of when did I start making music… ever since I can remember.
iEDM: Were there any specific instruments you wanted to learn or did you just want to produce EDM?
Mark Knight: Mostly electronic, but my dad was a drummer. So I played the drums for a while, and started to really achieve music and heighten it. So I did some bits with that. Then I fell in love with electronic music, but it was really a process of making it that didn’t mean you had to be that necessary that musically trained. So it just kind of chimed nicely with electronic music. I was like ‘wow, this can be programmed, you can make samples, etc.' I’m a firm believer that you’re given one opportunity in life to do whatever you want to do and only you will stop you from doing what you want to achieve. I’ve always maintained that as a motto and stuck with it. Everything is attainable, everything is possible.
iEDM: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Mark Knight: Many really. Top three would be Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Louie Vega, and Teddy Riley. I’m friends with Louie Vega. I would love to work with Louie Vega and Terry Lewis, they’re like heroes to me.
iEDM: You’ve recently changed your set up a bit. What was it that made you decide to switch up your music to a more underground style?
Mark Knight: It wasn’t necessarily something I specifically strategized to do. I’ve always been comfortable with making music. That’s the key: to make the music you love and being proud of everything you do. It was not a conscious shift, I think what’s happened in the industry is that things have become a lot more fragmented and compartmentalized in terms of genre… which is a shame. Everyone is in a small box. Six of seven years ago you could do what you want within a parameter, but now people just want to hear the same thing over and over again. This fashions what you do during your set. I’m working on lots of other projects in terms of my sets, like I’m starting on a big band project and it’s really exciting. I’m doing a disco project as well. That gives me the opportunity to fill my musical manifesto in terms of what I want to achieve creatively. We’re really kind of forced to do something more formulaic. We don’t necessarily have to follow the trend, but we have to shape it up to survive.
iEDM: Tell me a little more about those side projects.
Mark Knight: I have a band called Black Zeus, it’s a big electronic act, a festival type thing. Purely because I love that kind of music myself. My partner Dean and I are doing it. We produced Underworlds last album, and it was born out of the back of that. It was great producing their album, and we made so many big records so we thought ‘why don't we do this ourselves?’ It has taken a while to do it but we are literally two days from finishing the whole album. We’re going to bring it to life next year at festivals. It’s very exciting. The disco project is just bringing me back to my roots, it’s just something I want to do so I figured ‘what the fuck,’ I'm doing it. I have some great session people, people I’ve been working with for many years. We have some great singers, and people I’ve always wanted to work with so it’s a project from the heart. So there’s a lot going on, along with my day job of making tech house. So I’m very busy.
iEDM: If you could collaborate with any artist in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
Mark Knight: Oh god, I have a thousand names in my head. Top three would have to be Anderson.Paak, Jordan Rakei, and Kings of Leon. I have a pretty broad musical taste. And of course some of my own influences like Terry Lewis as I mentioned before. To bring that into the world with what I’m doing would be interesting. It would be cool to see those fusions play out. Those kind of projects excite me more than the more conventional things I’ve been doing. Though I’ve worked with many great artists for the last 15+ years, but I like the idea of bringing new styles in to see what we can come up with.
iEDM: Do you have any big plans, tours, or events this summer that you'd like to tell us about?
Mark Knight: I’m always on tour, the tour never ends. There are a lot of great shows and festivals coming up this summer. I’m going to be in Ibiza quite a lot at clubs like Amnesia. I’m also wrapping up a tour with a crew called All Night Long, where I did 15 of my favorite clubs all around the world which was really good. We have few shows left, 1 in Switzerland, and then 1 in Chicago, and 1 in Prague, and 1 in Helsinki. In London I’ll be switching up the style to a more eclectic set since it’s my birthday. The idea is to start with disco and finish set with techno. It’s a nice breath of fresh air To go in and really be creative with the programming of the night. At The Egg in London for my birthday we will be playing disco and house, all the stuff that is really special to me. It has been sold out for months, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s really giving me the opportunity to be creative.
iEDM: What is your take on the crowd in the US as opposed to the rest of the world?
Mark Knight: I love the states, they’re one of my biggest markets. I love the enthusiasm and the open mindedness of the people in the states because it’s a relatively newer thing than it is in Europe. I think Europe is very much the culprits of compartmentalizing the genres. Whereas in the states, there’s a lot more open mindedness. That’s how it used to be here in Europe about 15 years ago, but it’s a bit sad in Europe how people are so genre-specific.
iEDM: Where is your favorite city to perform? Why?
Mark Knight: Sofia in Bulgaria is just phenomenal. I have a very special relationship with Bulgaria. I’ve been going there for years. I have a lot of friends and fans out there. We can only do shows in large conference centers there because the music really seems to connect out there. The crowd interaction is just incredible. That’s what you want.
iEDM: Do you have anything else you'd like to say to your fans?
Mark Knight: Thank you for all the support, and be on the look out for the new Black Zeus album coming out next year. It’s going to be different. People will be like ‘where did that come from?’ But it’s great, you know? It just shows your different style in your production that people might not know. I like to do a lot of other things on top of what I normally do. I enjoy the diversity of the projects that I work on. It really feeds back into what you do on a more regular basis. It’s all about evolving your sound.