Tag: Shark Vegas

ALANAS CHOSNAU & MARK REEDER Interview

‘Children of Nature’ is the excellent first album by Mark Reeder and Alanas Chosnau that reflects their personal experiences and hopes for the future.

Alanas Chosnau is one of the biggest singing stars in Lithuania, while Mark Reeder is the Manchester-born producer and remixer who founded the trailblazing techno label MFS and introduced NEW ORDER to electronic dance music along the way.

While ‘Children of Nature’ has something of a melancholic air, it is also optimistic and hopeful. Combining East and West European approaches thanks to Chosnau and Reeder’s respective locations in Vilnius and Berlin, the album does not mask its multi-generational influences and uses them to present good songs with superlative vocals and sympathetic instrumentation.

As two people who personally experienced the divisive spectre of the Cold War head on while living on opposite sides of The Iron Curtain, ‘Children of Nature’ symbolically captures that emotion of desiring love and intimacy in isolation, something that is very relevant in these strange times.

DRAMATIS’ Chris Payne who also co-wrote and played on the VISAGE hit ‘Fade To Grey’ said: “Mark Reeder and singer Alanas Chosnau have recorded a stunning new album called ‘Children of Nature’, a range of well-crafted songs and beautifully produced, with excellent vocals. If you’re a fan of electronic music this is definitely an album to add to your collection.”

With ‘Children of Nature’ attracting many positive plaudits worldwide, Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder kindly spoke about the genesis of their creative union and a lot more.

Had the two of you been aware of each other before actually meeting in person at the Lithuanian International Film Festival in 2015?

Alanas: Unfortunately, not. Life is full of surprises. I believe that our meeting was meant to be. Since the first talk at the festival, I immediately felt a creative connection and discovered we shared a love of similar music.

Mark is an outstanding personality with so much experience and knowledge in music. I am privileged to work with him and also learn from him.

Mark: Yes, I first met Alanas at the Lithuanian International film festival in Vilnius, where I was presenting the documentary film, ‘B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-89)’.

It was a very glamourous event, presented by the President of Lithuania, and the audience were all dressed in formal evening wear, surrounded by glittering camera lights and TV crews. Upon arrival, I was asked if I could also perform a short DJ set during the actual opening ceremony, but due to time restrictions, that ended up being one song – and not really a DJ set. They set up a mixing desk and two CDJ turntables for me, which was dwarfed by the expansive stage and I was thinking, what’s the point of two decks? I can’t really mix anything, as I’m only going to play one song…

After a lengthy presentation of Lithuania’s singer-songwriters, acrobats, magicians and choirs, it was finally my turn to go on stage. The compare introduced me in obviously glowing Lithuanian and I just stood there like a showroom dummy grimacing with fear at my inescapable plight. Then, with a huge smile, he turned and asked me with great expectation, “so Mark, what are you going to do for us tonight?” – I simply raised my forefinger and cheekily said “I’m going to just press, PLAY”.

As the first strains of the song opened, I could see the look upon the fascinated faces of Lithuanian high society. I felt they were all smiling at me more in sympathy than enjoyment. It was very unnerving. As the song progressed, I could see their faces turning from bemusement to shock and horror. They literally all stared at me, open mouthed.

Their uncomfortable expressions were eroding at my confidence as I nervously twiddled with the knobs, and I was thinking, should I really be doing this? Strangely enough, once the song had finished, they applauded furiously, but I wasn’t sure if they were just thankful that my dreadfully pathetic performance was finally over.

Almost as soon as I got off stage, I was introduced to Alanas and he revealed that behind me, a huge projection screen was showing excerpts from ‘B-Movie’. Something I was completely unaware of. Then I realised, that’s why they were all so shocked.

So how did a conversation with some common ground about the Cold War lead to one about actually making music together?

Alanas: I guess we have managed to blend Cold War with Cold Wave philosophy and here it is – ‘Children of Nature’. True, our common political experiences and human understanding of those times has helped us find common solutions much easier.

Despite different cultural backgrounds, where we have both matured, living the experience of a time before “the fall of The Berlin Wall” and the fall of Communism is something that bonds us together somehow.

Mark: I met up with Alanas to talk music, and he explained to me a little about his background, that he was originally a Kurd from Iraq, and he came to Vilnius during the Soviet era while he was still a young child. His parents had wisely decided it would be better to send him to Lithuania to keep him safe from Saddam’s possible purges, and eventually his gas bombs.

It was also interesting to hear how he had secretly listened to Western music as a child growing up in the Soviet Union. It seemed apparent that Lithuanians had always had this rebellious streak against their masters in Moscow and listening clandestinely to decadent Western Music was a kind of subversive, secret protest. Yet as he got older, he felt he wanted to make a different kind of music, something that was closer to his own heart.

We discovered our musical tastes overlapped and then the idea just emerged that we should maybe try and do something together. Alanas expressed his desire to finally make an album in English, but explained he’d never done it before, because finding the right kind of person, not only someone who understood the style of music he wanted to make, but also someone who would be able to guide him with his English, had so far proven to be elusive.

But after hearing my NEW ORDER reworking of ‘The Game’, he was convinced I might be the one. He asked me if I thought his English was good enough. I realised that as a kid growing up in the Soviet Union, they didn’t learn English at school. With the fall of communism in the early 90s, people were finally able to listen to all kinds of previously forbidden music from the West, but the lyrics were always a sticking point. That’s why techno became so internationally successful, because it was mainly instrumental.

Although I wasn’t initially aware of what he had achieved musically, I liked Alanas. Besides, he wasn’t asking me to work with him because I was some super famous pop star producer, but because he actually liked the sound of my music (especially my DEPECHE MODE remix). His own Lithuanian music sounded very contemporary and so I wanted to push his boundaries a bit. Give him something he wouldn’t normally do himself. My music is reminiscent. It doesn’t really have a date stamp on it, as it already sounds like it could be from a past era.

Eventually, we made ‘Losing My Mind’, which was then chosen to be the love song in the contemporary Cold War thriller ‘Le Chant Du Loup’ (The Wolf’s Call) and after that, we decided to make an album together.

Was the musical direction of the album something that was conscious and discussed?

Alanas: I would say that our album was consciously as well as intuitively directed. Mark was leading the process. We have exchanged much of our musical experiences, naturally discussed the lyrics and melodies of each track. We wanted our songs to reflect current people’s behaviour, feelings and needs. The message of our music is actual nowadays and I hope listeners hears it.

Mark: To a degree yes. Alanas liked the kind of sound I make and was open minded enough not to interfere. He also enjoyed the surprises and understood my idea was to make music in the present that reflected on our past, but is in fact timeless.

Alanas would send me his basic vocal melody idea and I would take it and turn it into something else. Most songs had no real lyrics at first, so as the music developed, I would make subject suggestions, and write the lyrics accordingly, later as Alanas became more confident with his English, he would suggest themes too and write his own lyric ideas.

Obviously, once our album started to take shape, we could see there was a pattern in the themes emerging. It wasn’t just all about love and loneliness, but also has contemporary political influences too.

Were there set roles within the writing and production or did you find that all interchangeable?

Alanas: We were so much into writing and producing new tracks. All our album was written interchangeably, while sharing music and lyric drafts, discussing, selecting and adjusting them. All the music production work was done by Mark and Micha Adam at their studio in Berlin.

Mark: Our roles were set before we started. Micha and I are already an experienced production team, and we each know where our strengths lie. Alanas is an established singer and songwriter. Yet for this project, he wanted a different sound to the contemporary one he usually pursues in Lithuania. I think he wanted to surprise his fans a bit there too. Mostly, we would create a template for Alanas to sing his idea to, then we would craft the song around it and write the lyrics, then we would fine tune it.

Did you put together the bones of the songs together while in the same room or was there quite a bit of remote working due to your geographical locations?

Alanas: The whole album work was basically done remotely, with me being in Vilnius and Mark in Berlin. We did have regular meetings in Berlin of course, but the most part of the studio work was remote.

Mark: No, we worked from separate cities. Quite an interesting process in itself and very modern thanks to the internet, such a process would have been impossible in the past. I had fortunately had enough experience working in this way before with other artists too, so it wasn’t so difficult for us. The only difference being in recording the vocals, when it comes to singing the lyrics and getting the intonation and pacing right, which is especially difficult for someone who is not a native English speaker, when they are next to you it is easy to say sing it like this or like that, but when they are in another city it’s not so easy.

Why the title ‘Children of Nature’? How did the song itself come together?

Alanas: The song ‘Children of Nature’ was one of the first tracks created for this album. At the beginning of our work, I sent the music draft to Mark with sketched lyrics including ‘Children of Nature’ and he liked the initial idea. Surely enough, Mark and Micha transformed it to perfection. When album was nearly finished, we realised that ‘Children of Nature’ is exactly the statement that represents our message to the people – we are responsible for the future of ours and future generations, thus must be warriors of our souls to protect it.

Mark: We felt that we wanted to make a statement to the generations of the future, show them what we thought about and that we cared. As a species, we have to a greater extent ruined much of our planet in a very short time. Nature has vented its anger upon us. Yet, in just a few weeks of lockdown, we saw all kinds of environmental miracles occur.

The planet doesn’t need us. It can wipe us out in an instant if it so desires. However, it proved, we could do a lot to help its recovery, if we really wanted to. It was a glimpse into an alternative future if we want it. Just imagine if we invested our technology and creative energy into helping our planet to recover, rather than build more weapons of mass destruction. In reality, we are all children of nature, but in little over a few hundred years we seem to have forgotten that, and as the world is governed by greed and selfishness, the egotistical desire for power and territory, puts us all in danger.

When The Berlin Wall fell, I had hoped that we were above all that in the coming 21st century. Sadly after 30 years, it seems not. We are back to where we were, at the start of the previous century. The cover design depicts a blurred image of post-nuclear children looking accusingly at the viewer. It’s a kind of forewarning. Do we want the future generations to grow up in that kind of post-nuclear world?

The cinematic ‘Losing My Mind’ was the first song released from the sessions and appropriately was in the French Cold War movie ‘Le Chant Du Loup’? Are you fans of spy dramas?

Alanas: Of course, since being a teenager I loved war and spy movies, because their characters take risks and go the end until they reach their goal, or die for it. These characters are mysterious and entertaining, capable to transcend me to new realities.

Mark: I grew up on James Bond and Harry Palmer. John Barry was a constant companion from being child. When Antonine Baudry approached me with a request to write a song for a love scene in his film, we had just started work on ‘Losing My Mind’. I decided as it was a contemporary Cold War thriller, I would pay homage to the music of Cold War thrillers of the past. Antonine heard the first draft and loved it immediately. That’s the version that appears on the soundtrack album.

If the British had James Bond and Harry Palmer, was there an Eastern Bloc equivalent?

Alanas: I guess that the best-known Soviet and even post-Soviet James Bond equivalent is a spy Stierlitz from the famous television series ‘The Seventeen Moments of Spring’ filmed in 1973. This movie has made the greatest impression on me while being a young kid.

One of the album’s highlights is the magnificent ‘Heavy Rainfall’, is that about the environment or something else?

Alanas: Funny enough, this track has nothing much in common with climate, environment or any form of natural weather conditions. Actually, ‘Heavy Rainfall’ transmits the message of the unfortunate rise of totalitarian regimes and strengthened social and even digital control over people.

Mark: ‘Heavy Rainfall’ is a song about how our thoughts are manipulated, about how our attention is diverted by trivia. It’s a warning, to be aware, but also the message is positive, that no matter how much heavy rainfall we get, we just have to wait and ride out the storm.

‘A Loving Touch’ appears to reference ‘Give Me Tonight’, was that intentional?

Alanas: Hmm, I am not sure I know that song ‘Give Me Tonight’. So most probably that means it was not intentional.

Mark: You are the only person who has made that comparison. Well, no it certainly wasn’t intentional. We are all subconsciously influenced by music we have heard though, sometimes you write something and think “have I heard that before?”

Thanks to SHAZAM, you can immediately see if it references anything. It might have partially a similar structure perhaps, which may give that impression, but we never thought of that. I just wanted to make a positive sounding song for the closing part of our album, something which captured a feeling for the roaring 2020s.

Strange thing is, now that we have all been through lengthy stretches of social distancing, where we were not allowed to kiss or hug our friends and loved ones, the message in this song takes on an entirely different meaning.

A track from the SHARK VEGAS archives ‘I Can’t Share This Feeling’ has been dusted off, what was the thinking behind this?

Alanas: To be honest, once Mark shared this track with me, I did not know at all that it is an old track from the SHARK VEGAS shelf. After we had recorded the vocals and the track was fully produced, Mark introduced me to the legend of SHARK VEGAS. We had a great conversation then, I remember. Mark really knows how to pleasantly surprise people.

Mark: I was going through some old SHARK VEGAS demo cassette tapes and I came across a song that I had recorded one night with Alistair Gray in our practice room in Tempelhof airport in the 80s. It never got beyond the rough demo tape stage and I was thinking maybe Alanas might be able to sing this.

So, I reworked it and sent him the backing track and vocal guide. I didn’t tell Alanas it was actually a song from the 80s, as I wanted to surprise him. And as it’s a mixed vocal of me and him, I decided it would only be fair to credit it to SHARK VEGAS.

‘All Alone’ is very on point with the current worldwide lockdown situation, but what had been its original sentiment?

Alanas: ‘All Alone’ is about loneliness, a lonely man in this World. The unexpected coronavirus lockdown has only strengthened this inner feeling of ours. Hasn’t it? When health crisis happened, we had no doubt of which vector of lonely humanity to choose – lockdown dictated it all and we dedicated this song to all the people isolated at home and in hospitals. It appears that we made quite a prophetic song and we indirectly could foresee the upcoming corona crisis.

Mark: Due to the lockdown, this song unintentionally became the first album outtake. We discussed the idea of making a video during lockdown but due to the restrictions it seemed almost impossible to venture outside without consequences, so Alanas made one at home. It’s structured like a 60s song, wrapped in a synthpop style with a contemporary theme.

Initially, I wanted it to be about the dilemma and frustration of loneliness. This is a subject that has actually been a reoccurring theme throughout my entire career, because no matter what, we are born alone and die alone and for the part in between we can sometimes find ourselves left alone, and we are all victims of that at some stage in our lives. It’s a solitary cry for solidarity.

‘Drowning in You’ has something of a ‘Heroes’ feel about it, had Berlin been a key symbolic influence on the album?

Alanas: Comparison to David Bowie is a great compliment. One of my very first childhood journeys was from Baghdad to West-Berlin in 1980 with my beloved mother. Since then, I carry those captured memories of Berlin’s streets, people and unique feeling in the air.

Each stay in Berlin inspires me a lot and now working with Mark and Micha at their Berlin studio kind of blends it all together. No doubt, Berlin has influenced our music and I guess Mark can say much more to that point. Berlin is a city like no other.

Mark: ‘Drowning in You’ is a song about love at the dawn of a totalitarian regime, as it creeps upon you without realising the danger. The future looks optimistic even, but then things start to change. Berlin has seen that happen, but it could happen anywhere, anytime. It’s a song of reflection, on a time gone by, when the World seemed a happier place. Everything seems normal at first, but then things slowly start to disintegrate until the day comes when you suddenly find yourself being hauled off to a labour camp…

‘Fade On’ reflects a love for DEPECHE MODE, another act with Berlin very much in their DNA, have you seen the ‘Spirits In The Forest’ film?

Alanas: I first heard DEPECHE MODE as a twelve-year-old when I was already living in Soviet Lithuania, where international music from the West was super hard to get. I found the cassette tape with a name “DEPECHE MODE” at my older cousin’s house and I played ‘People Are People’. That was it. I was totally blown away of how the music sounded. I really cannot deny that discovering DEPECHE MODE in those pale Soviet times strengthened my dream to become an artist, and create my own music and form a band. Yes, I did see the ‘Spirits In The Forest’, loved the cinematography and style of storytelling itself.

Which songs have been your own personal favourites from ‘Children of Nature’?

Alanas: The whole album is an emotional journey through the complex human nature. It speaks to the listener of love, joy, loneliness, happiness, fulfilment, fear, pain… it even predicts the future if you like. The album’s structure is very consistent thanks to Mark’s insights and rich musical experience.

I hope our listeners can feel it. One of my favourite songs is ‘How Do You feel’, because it’s very inspiring and motivating. Also ‘Drowning In You’, ‘Fade On’, ‘Love Of My Life’, ‘Children of Nature’, ‘Heavy Rainfall’, ‘It’s Who You Are’, ‘I Can’t Share This Feeling’…errr

Mark: I can’t really answer that question. I just made an album that I thought Alanas, Micha and I would like to buy. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I just wanted it to be a collection of familiar styles and sounds, that trigger a feeling of reminiscence, but then again, each song is different. It’s an electronic album, but sometimes it also has dance and rock elements to it, like a mixture of all the sounds that have influenced my own musical career.

Your partnership has been well received by music fans, is this a one-off or is working together again something you would like to do?

Alanas: We are very grateful to our fans who like our album and listen to it. I had long discussions with Mark before recording the first track. It took us a while to come up with this decision and I appreciate his trust and belief in me a lot.

Our partnership grew to a highly creative and mutually respectful relationship and I would definitely like to continue working together.

Mark: Micha and I have really enjoyed working with Alanas, we became a great team and we don’t see it ending with this album, on the contrary, we all hope our work will continue, and so it will. Not only have we managed how to make an album while being miles apart, but I think we have found the right song writing formula too in which we can work, which will hopefully make things easier for our next album.

What is next for each of you?

Alanas: Currently we are intensively promoting the digital album, producing new music videos and plan live shows once the corona crisis regulation allows it. Our record label MFS will soon release vinyl and CD formats of the album as it was already planned before the lockdown. As for the future, we do have creative brainstorms, but now all our efforts are focused on making ‘Children of Nature’ a success.

Mark: As always, my music life never stops evolving and apart from promoting ‘Children of Nature’, I have also been quite productive since I came out of lockdown.

First off, I made two remixes of the title track ‘Children of Nature’ for the ‘Natural Selection’ EP, which are much more clubbier in their approach. I also remixed ‘Light of the World’ by BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC, a project based in Amsterdam. I also remixed ‘Dead Soul’s by a band from Mexico called DEER who currently live in Hong Kong and I have just finished a remix for the CEMETERY SEX FAIRIES.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder

The ‘Children of Nature’ album and the ‘Natural Selection’ EP are released by MFS via the usual digital platforms including https://markreeder.bandcamp.com/releases

https://alanaschosnau.com/

https://www.facebook.com/alanaschosnau/

https://www.instagram.com/alanaschosnau/

https://www.facebook.com/markreeder.mfs/

https://twitter.com/markreedermfs

https://www.instagram.com/markreeder.mfs/

https://mfsberlin.com/

https://open.spotify.com/album/6QinQBH8STYT86s59YRO8t


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Martyn Goodacre
11th July 2020

A Beginner’s Guide To MARK REEDER

Mark Reeder has carved out an impressive reputation for his catalogue of fine remixes.

When Mark Reeder spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in 2011 about his remixing style, he said: “I’m old school. I like to still be able to hear the song, but give it my own signature and atmosphere, while at the same time use as many of the original elements as possible”.

He had moved to West-Berlin from Manchester in 1978, having become fascinated by the artistic diversity of the city and was Factory Records representative in Germany between 1978 to 1982. He is credited with introducing Bernard Sumner to the world of electronically propelled dance music, thus being instrumental in the development of NEW ORDER’s influential hybrid sound.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reeder had great success with his electronic dance music record label Masterminded For Success (MFS). For the last few years, Reeder has been heavily involved in a documentary film about his adopted home city:

“’B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’ is about the forgotten city of West-Berlin during the 80s. When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, not only did communist East Germany cease to exist, but the walled-in island of West-Berlin did too. Most people have forgotten, or have no idea how the city was back then. In ‘B-Movie’, I guide the viewer through this decade, but as the film is also about my life in this city too, I show you some of the things I saw and experienced during the 1980s, while participating in what has now become, the legendary subkultur of West Berlin.”

In a break from his hectic worldwide schedule promoting ‘B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’, Mark Reeder kindly gave an insightful commentary into the tracks that shaped his own musical career.


DIE UNBEKANNTEN Radio War (1981)

Reeder formed DIE UNBEKANNTEN with Alistair Gray when he settled in West-Berlin.

We were actually given the name DIE UNBEKANNTEN by a journalist, who saw our feeble first gig at the SO36. That gig was supposed to have been just a one-off, but he was surprisingly impressed and thought we were very avant-garde and apparently enjoyed our miserable performance.

In his magazine review of the event, he just called us two unknown Englishmen and from then on, people just called us DIE UNBEKANNTEN (“The Unknown”). A few weeks later, we played at the Genial Dilletanten Festival and were inadvertently presented as ‘Necropolis’, which was actually the title of our intro track. A while later, after Elisabeth Recker of Monogam Records witnessed what was probably our most chaotic performance – we were on acid – she believed we would fit perfectly with the abstract style of the rest of the artists on her record label.

Our Swiss friend Thomas Wydler became our drummer and we recorded a three track EP featuring ‘Radio War’, ‘Poseidon’ and ‘Casualties’.

The record not only sounded nothing like any of Monogam’s previous releases, but it also caused a lot of controversy because of my design for its front cover image (a photo depicting three East German border guards) and the striking Germanic style of type face which I had chosen.

Our second, and final DIE UNBEKANNTEN record, was much more electronic. By this time, Thomas had left us and joined DIE HAUT and we had gone back to using a drum machine and had also acquired some more electronic instruments. Our friend, Adrian Wright from THE HUMAN LEAGUE gave us a brand new drum computer to test for him.

He had actually been asked to try out a very early prototype Roland TR606, but couldn’t be bothered and so he gave it to us to trial for him, so along with the Transcendent 2000 (the very same one which Bernard Sumner had played in JOY DIVISION with) and a Moog that Klaus Schulze had also given us, we immediately went into the studio and recorded ‘Don’t Tell Me Stories’ for our ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ EP. This became the first record to feature a Roland TR606.

Available on the album ‘B-Music: Der Soundtrack zum Film B-Movie’ (V/A) via DEF Media

https://www.facebook.com/lustandsoundinwestberlin/


MALARIA! Geld (1982)

One of the bands who grabbed Reeder’s attention in West-Berlin were the uncompromising all-female combo MALARIA!

I already knew Bettina Koester and Gudrun Gut from their first band MANIA-D. Musically, their approach was so different from anything I had ever heard before, as the conventional rules of male dominated rock and roll didn’t apply to the way these girls made music at all and that was what made them so exciting.

They were no virtuosos, but that didn’t matter one bit, because it was exactly that ingredient which made their music so interesting. After Beate Bartel left MANIA-D to form LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, Gudrun and Bettina formed MALARIA! a five piece all-girl band and quite an international one too, being a mixture of German, American and Dutch.

B-MOVIE MalariaTheir striking, on-stage image, all dressed in black with bright red lips, is considered a Goth image nowadays; but back in the 80s, MALARIA! did it first, and after their debut appearance in London with THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, this image was obviously hi-jacked from them for the Robert Palmer video ‘Addicted To Love’, even to the point of making the emphasis that the girls in his video also couldn’t play their instruments.

At some point very early on, I became their manager. At that time, I was the only man allowed into their sphere, and because I knew what the band wanted to sound like live, I also became their sound engineer too and naturally, as I also had my own band, DIE UNBEKANNTEN, we became their support band.

The girls trusted me, they knew I understood their ideology and I liked their music and most importantly, I didn’t interfere.

Available on the album ‘B-Music: Der Soundtrack zum Film B-Movie’ (V/A) via DEF Media

http://www.m-enterprise.de/malaria.html


SHARK VEGAS Love Habit (1986)

Reeder’s own musical journey has to an extent, mirrored that of Bernard Sumner’s. DIE UNBEKANNTEN morphed into SHARK VEGAS to become a more electronic and disco friendly proposition.

After performing for nearly four years as DIE UNBEKANNTEN, we were asked by NEW ORDER if we would like to accompany them on their European tour after the success of ‘Blue Monday’.

We decided this would be a good moment to change our name and musical style, especially after adding two new members to our band. Besides, after our first disastrous London performance in the Barracuda Club, I thought DIE UNBEKANNTEN was much too difficult to pronounce outside of Germany, as people thought we were called DIE UNBEKANNTEN as in “Death Unbekannten” and so we urgently needed a new name and image.

Me and my partner-in-crime, Alistair Gray just threw a few ideas together one night and SHARK VEGAS became our name. I wanted something obscure sounding that didn’t actually mean anything apart from it being our band name.

Al and I were huge fans of pulsating electronic dance music – most probably since ‘I Feel Love’ – and the small Berlin underground gay-disco scene, which ran parallel to the abstract avant-garde scene, was the place to go and always a great way to spend a late Friday and Saturday night, before finally crashing and burning in the Risiko club.

Besides, musically, DIE UNBEKANNTEN had already been moving away from being depressive and miserable and had become much more electronic high energy disco too, so this tour proposal presented itself as a welcome opportunity to literally, regroup.

During a short break in the NEW ORDER tour, we went into Conny Plank’s studio with Bernard Sumner and recorded our first single ‘You Hurt Me’, but the session was a bit of a disaster, as the studio engineer had a slipped disc and was in terrible pain. He had to lie on a camp bed in front of the mixing desk and shout instructions up to us, while Conny Plank spent all his time playing table tennis in the yard outside. That single became FAC111.

‘Love Habit’ was one of the tracks we initially recorded during the session for the FacUS ‘Young, Popular & Sexy’ compilation. We were asked to perform ‘Love Habit’ for a video, for a special Berlin edition of ‘Music Box’, Britain’s first cable TV music show and using my US Army AFN contacts, I managed to get permission to make our video on the divided Glienickebrücke (the so-called ‘Bridge of Spies’). In the video, we appear as beaten up and tortured spies in raincoats, as if we had just been let out of an East German prison.

Unfortunately, the US army forgot to inform the Soviet Army that we were making a video on the bridge and so, on the East side there was a right flap on. They sent out East German patrol boats to find out what we were doing on the bridge. I guess they thought we were trying to provoke World War III. ‘Love Habit’ was intended to be an album track, but it became one of the last songs we recorded as SHARK VEGAS and it was never released, at least not until we included it on the recent ‘B-Movie’ soundtrack.

Available on the album ‘B-Music: Der Soundtrack zum Film B-Movie’ (V/A) via DEF Media

https://www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/


DIE VISION Love By Wire (1990)

Released on East German state label AMIGA, DIE VISION’s ‘Torture’ was the last album to be recorded in communist East Berlin in 1989 and featured Reeder as producer.

I was invited by the band to be the producer for their debut album. At first it seemed incredible that they had actually managed to get the AMIGA to agree, as no-one from the West had ever been allowed in their state-run recording studio, let alone produce an album there.

It transpired that because the band were allowed officially to sing in English(ese), they agreed to let them have an English-speaking producer too. In reality, I later discovered, the STASI wanted to know what kind of subversive activity I was involved in, especially after helping to arrange two illegal and meanwhile legendary secret gigs with West German punk band DIE TOTEN HOSEN in East Berlin. So I guess this was their brilliant plan to keep a close watch on me.

DIE VISION’s singer Uwe, was studying English at the Humbolt University – to be able to do that, you had to speak fluent Russian too – and he was so very insistent that I come over and produce their album. So I did. What an opportunity. Now, forming a band in communist East Germany was very, very difficult. It was nothing like forming a band in the West.

You couldn’t just go into a shop and buy a guitar, bass and drums and bash away. Everything was controlled by the Communist state, especially music. Before you could play to the public, your ability was first considered, then your song lyrics scrutinised to see if there were any subversive hidden anti-state messages and even getting electric instruments was difficult, you needed permits to first buy and then one to play, an electric guitar in public.

Then as a band, you performed before a group of people, who would assess your proficiency. This determined if, when, or where you might be able to play, eg youth clubs and how much you would get paid. DIE VISION had quite a sudden rise in popularity in the East and rather than ban them, the Authorities decided to sign them, that way everything would be under control. That is, until I came along…

As we were making this album, the GDR was literally falling apart. It was very difficult making this album with a feeling of imminent doom hanging over the studio and with constant power fluctuations, people fleeing to the West and general grumbling unrest. I called the album ‘Torture’ because it was exactly that to make!

Available on the DIE VISION album ‘Torture’ via AMIGA / Zong & Vulture Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/114367-Die-Vision


PAUL VAN DYK Words – Original Version radio edit by Paul van Dyk, Wolfgang Ragwitz + Mark Reeder (1996)

In 1990, Reeder established MFS and discovered Trance DJ Paul van Dyk…

One of my first artists on MFS, COSMIC BABY made some great records, but DJs kept complaining that they couldn’t play them because he always had DJ-unfriendly intros. I suggested he find a DJ who could help him to construct DJ friendly intros to his tracks.

One night, Cosmic was performing live in the Turbine club. One of the warm up DJs was a young lad called Paul van Dyk. The two hit it off almost immediately and I suggested that Paul come to the office the following Monday to discuss working with Cosmic. Paul told me he was from Hamburg, but it later turned out he was originally from Eisenhuettenstadt in deepest East Germany, but had moved to East Berlin before applying to leave East Germany for Hamburg shortly before the wall came down.

I was actually very happy to hear he was from East Germany, because that was my initial intention with MFS to create a platform for young Eastie kids; he was my first.

One night, he came to me while I was working in my bar and begged me to help him to become a professional DJ.

He was working as an apprentice carpenter at that time and absolutely hated it. I told him, if he would promise me that he would work hard to be the best DJ in the world, then I would help him to achieve his goal. I told him there were no prizes for second best.

I put him in the studio with Cosmic and they recorded two amazing singles together as THE VISIONS OF SHIVA. Then I let him remix HUMATES’s track ‘Love Stimulation’ and that remix attracted a lot of attention. I knew from the start that he could do it simply because he was ambitious enough. He didn’t know it at that time of course, because his talent had to be coaxed out of him. By giving him a platform and motivation and the help of Johnny Klimek’s studio, he was able to discover his own music making talent.

Of course, I believed absolutely in Paul and invested everything, love, creativity, all my time and effort and all I had in propelling him onto an international stage.

I guided and advised him, compiled and mastered his records, designed his covers and basically created the legend of Paul Van Dyk. I used my contacts and credibility to get him high profile remixes, such as ‘Spooky’ by NEW ORDER and even answered his interviews, anything which would enhance his credibility, profile and status.

Sadly, once he had reached the brink of DJ superstardom, he decided he no longer needed me and ditched me without a word of thanks.

Available on the PAUL VAN DYK single ‘Words – Part 2’ via MFS

http://www.paulvandyk.com/


SAM TAYLOR-WOOD & PET SHOP BOYS I’m In Love With A German Filmstar – Stuck In The 80s remix (2008)

The ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ film director recorded a number of covers with her favourite pop duo like ‘J T’aime… Moi Non Plus’, ‘Love To Love You Baby’ and this new wave classic…

Neil and Chris asked me to do this remix after hearing the mix I had made of ‘Miracle Cure’ featuring Bernard Sumner for BLANK & JONES. It was quite thrilling being asked to do this song, as I’ve always loved the original.

The PET SHOP BOYS / SAM TAYLOR-WOOD version was more minimalistic and techno sounding though, so I thought I would make mine more retro-modern-disco sounding.

fbn111cdstwI thought, as its going to be released on Kompakt, they are probably going to have banging techno remixes done anyway. I know they were completely surprized at the label to hear it, because they really expected me to make some sort of cheesy trance mix. It is such an iconic and mystical song though, and I was worried I would be able to do it justice as a dance track. I made three different versions, a long mix and two shorter mixes and all in 5.1 surround sound, which I put on ‘Five Point One’.

I was very pleased when Sam said she thought it was “wicked” and totally relieved that the Boys also liked it too. But when THE PASSIONS contacted me themselves, to tell me that they really loved it, well, that was like a stone being lifted from my heart.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Five Point One’ via Kennan Limited

http://petshopboys.co.uk/


BLANK & JONES, MARK REEDER Manifesto – Save Yourself Mix (2009)

Reeder collaborated with popular German dance duo BLANK & JONES on a restyling project entitled ‘ReOrdered’ which featured Bernard Sumner, Robert Smith and Claudia Brücken. But one of the album’s highlights was ‘Manifesto’ featuring Vanessa Daou.

‘Manifesto’ was actually the third track of Vanessa’s that I reworked for ‘ReOrdered’. The first was ‘Consequences’.

I really liked her voice and her lyrics though and I asked BLANK & JONES if I could rework another track, that was ‘Heart Of Wax’. After that, the idea for ‘ReOrdered’ was born and I would go on to rework all BLANK & JONES’ vocal-dance tracks into songs, it was a bit like back engineering a remix. The first two tracks were quite soft, so I wanted ‘Manifesto’ to be a little tougher and sound more like a nu-beat track with trippy elements.

Available on the BLANK & JONES, MARK REEDER album ‘ReOrdered’ via Soundcolours

http://www.blankandjones.com/


BAD LIEUTENANT Sink Or Swim – Rettungstring Radio remix (2010)

Prior to the recent return of NEW ORDER sans Hooky, Bernard Sumner had an interim, guitar led project BAD LIEUTENANT. However, many followers of NEW ORDER missed the sound Sumner had become synonymous for.

After Hooky decided to leave NEW ORDER, I think Bernard needed some distance and formed BAD LIEUTENANT, together with Jake Evans and the remaining members of NEW ORDER.

Jake is such a talented person and a brilliant guitarist – he’s definitely one to watch in the future. I really liked the parent album ‘Never Cry Another Tear’, it’s a wonderful summer album and I think it is very underrated.

I was given the opportunity to do some remixes for them and decided to rework their guitar tracks into electronic dance versions. ‘Sink Or Swim’ was the first and I think I made about six different versions of this track, Bernard took the piss out of me for the amount of mixes we made. The song had been performed live and so the tempo varied within the song from the start to finish, which made it a bloody nightmare to mix into a 4/4 dance track.

To make it sound organic, we had to take all the instruments and slice them up and then carefully put them back together again by hand. It was a mammoth task and at the time, I thought “I never want to have to do that again”.

After ‘Sink Or Swim’, we mixed ‘Twist Of Fate’, which I also made about four or so mixes. The same time consuming slice and move ritual applied as with ‘Sink Or Swim’. As the remixes were only released digitally, I decided to include some of them on my ‘Five Point One’ album, and later, ‘Collaborator’.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux

https://www.facebook.com/badlieutenantmusic/


JOHN FOXX Underpass – Sinister Subway remix (2010)

Reeder’s reworking of John Foxx’s calling card was mighty and he relished the challenge.

John Foxx was putting together the ‘Metatronic’ compilation album and I was in contact with his manager about something different entirely. During our conversation, he told me about the compilation and I said jokingly that I could do a remix perhaps, as a bonus track.

Well, after they had listened to a few of my remixes, he called and asked me if I would like to remix ‘Underpass’. My studio partner Micha Adam and I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true. No-one had ever been allowed to remix this legendary song before and so it was such an honour. Then the reality set in. If I balls this up, the fans will lynch me.

Being a huge fan of the song myself, I decided I could only do it as I would want it to sound myself. Yet I didn’t want to drive too far away from the original though either and wanted to keep as many elements in there as possible.

I was sent the parts, eight tracks in all… but that iconic massive synth riff was missing. All I had been given was the riff, played by a small tinny sounding synth. Well, that was it. I realised, the huge reverb sound was added live, during the mix-down and so we had to reconstruct it.

I recalled what kind of instrumentation and effects they might have used back then and dug out my old Space Echo. Once we had reconstructed the original version, we made a 5.1 mix of it (it is a hidden Easter Egg on ‘Five Point One’). Then, I remixed it. I made three versions, a short radio mix in stereo and 5.1 plus a longer Sinister Subway mix for the ‘Metatronic’ compilation album.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘Metatronic’ via Metamatic Records

http://www.metamatic.com/


ANNE CLARK If – Seemingly forever remix (2011)

Cult goth icon ANNE CLARK is an English poet, who sets her poems to music and is probably more well-known outside of the UK.

Anne is truly a great artist. I first met her when she played in Berlin after recording ‘Sleeper In Metropolis’ with David Harrow, who lived in Berlin at that time. This timeless track is one of my all-time favourite 80s songs and it became almost like an anthem to the divided city, especially so to the kids in the East.

She was (and still is) absolutely adored in the East, mainly because her dark and descriptive poetry set to music, clearly struck a chord with them and it was something they all could identify with. Side two of her first album was recorded with Vini Reilly of THE DURUTTI COLUMN. She kept with the electronic side and made her second album with JOHN FOXX. Over the years, she has cultivated her poetry with a wide variety of musical sounds from Synthetic to Rock to Classical.

After a chance meeting a few years ago, when she performed in the Russian embassy in Berlin, I reworked the track ‘The Hardest Heart’ she had made for BLANK & JONES for our ‘ReOrdered’ album and then I remixed two of her tracks ‘Full Moon’ and ‘If’ in 5.1 surround sound for my ‘Five Point One’ album,

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Five Point One’ via Kennan Limited

http://anneclarkofficial.com/


DEPECHE MODE Sweetest Perfection – Sweetest Conception remix (2011)

Reeder was given the opportunity to rework a track from the iconic ‘Violator’ album by Daniel Miller.

Like ‘Underpass’, this was almost reverential territory. Depeche were putting together the ‘Remixes 2 81-11’ compilation and Daniel asked me if I would like to do a remix for it. By the time I had received the list of possible tracks to remix, all the most popular songs had been taken and so I was left with songs no-one dared to touch.

‘Sweetest Perfection’ was always one of my favourite tracks though and I thought it would be a real challenge to remix. Not only in terms of actually attempting to remix it, but with the thought that as a fan, how would I want it to sound and if I f*cked up, I would probably have to leave the planet.

We already had a really short deadline to finish the remix on and only three days into the mix, I got a call from my mother telling me that my dad had been rushed to hospital with a broken hip after being pushed over. The situation looked very serious, he was a very old man and the doctors didn’t give him much chance of survival. I had to down tools and fly over and consequently, I missed the deadline for submitting my remix for the DM album.

Fortunately, I was in the process of putting ‘Five Point One’ together and decided to finish the remix anyway and asked Daniel if I could license it for my album. He spoke with the band and they said I could (I was told it was the first time a previously unreleased DM song had ever appeared on another album) and as we were looking for images to accompany the 5.1 mixes, Anton Corbijn kindly gave me one of his old, unseen photos of the band for me to use.

I wanted my remix to retain as many of the original elements as possible, but I added extra strings, more swirling synths and a real bass guitar, as well as my own little riff with a broken piano which I hoped would make it sound a bit more Eastern European.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Five Point One’ via Kennan Limited

http://www.depechemode.com/


ELECTROBELLE Falling – In Your Heart remix (2011)

Reeder took a liking to stop / start Midlands duo ELECTROBELLE and delivered an edgier reimagining of ‘Falling’ before they belatedly got round to releasing it themselves officially in 2012!

I heard ‘Mirrorball’ by ELECTROBELLE on the 2009 ‘Electronically Yours’ compilation released by Undo Records. I really liked Charlotte’s vocal style and so I asked them if they would like to contribute a track to my ‘Five Point One’ album.

They sent me the parts of a demo track they had made and this became ‘Falling’. The idea for the ‘Five Point One’ album was to include remixes I had made for famous artists, coupled with lesser known ones and mix them all in 5.1 Dolby surround sound.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Five Point One’ via Kennan Limited

https://www.facebook.com/electrobelle/


MARSHEAUX So Close – So Close remix (2011)

While busy remixing legends in synthesized pop, Reeder also kept an eye on newer acts that were emerging from Europe…

I had been a fan of Undo records, FOTONOVELA and MARSHEAUX for a while and after ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK posted a link to one of their tracks, I asked Chi if he could hook us up, as I thought that ‘So Close’ would fit in well on my ‘Five Point One’ album and asked them if I could remix it.

‘So Close’ had a melancholic element, but I wanted to give the song a more filmic feeling and make it even more melancholic, with sweeping strings and added bass guitar. Filmmaker Paul Morgens heard the track and immediately loved it. He made a great video for it made up of old footage he had found in his aunties archive.

Available on the MARSHEAUX deluxe album ‘Inhale’ via Undo Records

http://www.marsheaux.com/


DIE TOTEN HOSEN Disco – Lange Hosen remix (2011)

Düsseldorf punk veterans DIE TOTEN HOSEN have maintained a long standing kinship with Mark Reeder.

I have a long, close connection with Die Hosen. I first met Campino in Bochum. MALARIA! were playing a gig there and he was allocated as my driver. He told me about his new band DIE TOTEN HOSEN and about their hideous, but hilarious high-waisted flared trousers, which they bought by the kilo.

A couple of months later, I became their live sound engineer, and together with my rebelliously minded Eastie friends, I managed to help organise a very secret gig with them in an East-Berlin Church. It was disguised as a religious church service, a so-called Blues Mass. Although heavily monitored, the East German clergy was seen as a passive resistance movement against the communist government and although not officially acknowledged, they were tolerated and thus had a certain amount of flexibility within the system. That way we could arrange our secret gig there using this loophole.

DIE UNBEKANNTEN went on tour with DIE TOTEN HOSEN and one of the highlights was performing in the Kogasz club, in the Karl-Marx-University in Budapest. It was supposed to have been a top secret gig in the Young Artists club to a few music lovers, organised by photographer Janos Veto, but so many people eventually wanted to see the gig, that it was moved to the University.

During this tour we had many problems with our car. DIE TOTEN HOSEN were so sceptical our car would even survive the trip, they bet us a crate of beer, that we wouldn’t make it to Budapest.

We did, but had such a horror trip trying to get there, as our car kept breaking down. Upon our arrival in the University, Janos told us we couldn’t play!

The authorities had decided the gig was illegal and it had officially been pulled, but we thought we have come all this way so f*ck them and we did the gig anyway. After we had performed, someone stole our drum computer. We were paid in beer vouchers (Hungarian Forints) and had so much of it, we invited everyone in the YAC for drinks, as we couldn’t take the cash out of the country… I don’t remember much about that night after that.

‘Disco’ was a track off the DIE TOTEN HOSEN album ‘In Alle Stille’ and I thought it would be fun to make an Italo disco sounding mix of this track. The original is a fast paced, rock song and when we received the parts, we discovered there were about 40 guitar tracks. We had to apply the same procedure as with BAD LIEUTENANT in slicing and moving all the elements so that they would fit into the new tempo and yet still sound organic.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Five Point One’ via Kennan Limited

http://www.dietotenhosen.de/


KOISHII & HUSH featuring JOHN TAYLOR C’est Tout Est Noir – Black Night Remix (2013)

‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ was the DURAN DURAN bassist’s best lead vocal since his solo single ‘I Do What I Do’ in 1986.

KOISHII & HUSH had made a remix for BAD LIEUTENANT’s ‘Twist of Fate’ and after telling me how much they liked my version, they asked me if I would like to remix their track ‘C’est Tout Est Noir’ which they had made together with DURAN DURAN bassist John Taylor.

At first, I thought he would be playing bass guitar on the track, but then to my surprise he was the vocalist. He has a great voice and I really liked the track. The original is quite trancey, so I wanted to make it more cinematic and add some guitar and extra bass. John loved it and immediately used my rough demo as his soundtrack to a vlog he’d made flying from Austria to LA.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux

http://www.koishiiandhush.com/


QUEEN OF HEARTS United (2013)

QUEEN OF HEARTS Cocoon2CDA stomping electro disco number produced by Reeder, Elizabeth Morphew’s cooing Bush-like howls and breathy euphoria were a total delight to the ears while the mighty cavernous sound provided the heat!

I saw a piece posted on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about QUEEN OF HEARTS and I was curious. I really liked Elizabeth’s voice from the moment I heard the first couple of tracks.

Chi thought we might make a nice collaboration and so I got in touch with her to compliment her and she asked me to remix ‘Neon’ which eventually ended up on ‘Collaborator’. We then made a cover version together of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. I then wrote two songs ‘Suicide’ and ‘United’ for her debut album ‘Cocoon’.

Available on the QUEEN OF HEARTS deluxe album ‘Cocoon’ via Night Moves

http://iamqueenofhearts.com/


WESTBAM featuring BERNARD SUMNER She Wants – Old School remix (2013)

Techno legend WESTBAM made his return with the impressive ‘Götterstrasse’ which featured Iggy Pop, Hugh Cornwell, Brian Molko and Lil Wayne. Naturally, Reeder reworked an excellent track featuring the vocals of Bernard Sumner.

My relationship with WESTBAM goes back to the early days when he was trying to establish himself as a DJ in Berlin. He played in the Metropol disco and towards the end of the 80s in the UFO club.

His involvement in the evolution of the Berlin Techno scene is reluctantly accepted, but arguably without his engagement, many things probably wouldn’t have happened. He was a vital participant in parties and events and was the first Berlin DJ to play in the Soviet Union.

While we were putting ideas for songs for ‘B-Movie’ together, he gave us a demo of ‘You Need The Drugs’ featuring Richard Butler of THE PSYCHEDLIC FURS. It was a great track and we all immediately loved it. He said he was making a songs album and would love to make a track with Bernard Sumner on vocals. He sent Bernard the demo and he really liked the track and agreed to do it. As thanks, I was given the opportunity to remix it which was perfect timing, as I was in the process of putting together my ‘Collaborator’ compilation for Factory Benelux and we could therefore give it a physical release on CD.

Available on the MARK REEDER remix album ‘Collaborator’ via Factory Benelux

http://westbam.com/


MODERN FAMILY UNIT Mmh Mmh Aahh – Eyy & Aarrgghh remix (2015)

Reeder went back to Manchester to rework the local electro wave duo MFU and added some Berlin Burlesque groove.

Dave Haslam told me about MFU and that they would like a remix. They sent me ‘Mmh Mmh Aahh’ and I loved it. I don’t know why, but it reminded me somehow of early ROXY MUSIC. I wanted to make it a bit dancier, but retain its overall atmosphere and add a little bit of Berlin mystique with the zither.

Available on the single ‘Mmh Mmh Aahh’ via GaS Records

http://www.modernfamilyunit.co.uk/


MARK REEDER Mauerstadt (2015)

From the soundtrack to Reeder’s film ‘B-Movie’, it enabled him to soundtrack his memories of the divided city with a 21st century outlook. Modern technology helped the process…

During the ‘B-Movie’ editing process, we wanted to use the DAF track ‘Kebab Träume’ for the burning of the Berlin Wall birthday sequence, but after long and rather unproductive negotiations, they wouldn’t let us have it.

So I decided I would write a track myself, using only a couple of analogue sequencers and synths to accompany this great piece of footage by the incredible Knut Hoffmeister.

Available on the album ‘B-Music: Der Soundtrack zum Film B-Movie’ (V/A) via DEF Media

http://www.b-movie-der-film.de/


NEW ORDER Singularity – Duality Remix (2016)

When NEW ORDER made their recorded return with ‘Music Complete’, Reeder was given the opportunity to rework some tracks and indirectly became part of their new live show.

I was asked if I would like to remix a track from the latest NEW ORDER album so I chose one of my favourite songs ‘Academic’, as it seemed like it was up for the challenge, being mainly a traditional style guitar track.

But while I was in Bucharest with ‘B-Movie’ and hanging out with CROWD CONTROL, I got an urgent call asking if I would be able to make a quick remix of ‘Singularity’. I raced back home and immediately started work on it.

B-MOVIE Mark+BernardIt’s a great track and I really enjoyed remixing it. Which is fitting, Bernard was also so impressed with my ‘B-Movie’, that he asked me if NEW ORDER could use some footage for their backdrop video in their live shows.

This was so well received, that it then became the promo video clip for the ‘Singularity’ single. The even faster-cut images and theme of the song work really well together with the music.

When NEW ORDER performed recently in Berlin, I was very pleased to have the honour of introducing the band.

Available on the single ‘Singularity’ via Mute Artists

http://www.neworder.com/


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Mark Reeder

The film ‘B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin)’ is available now on DVD, Bluray and download

http://www.5point1.org/info.html

https://twitter.com/markreedermfs


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
26th March 2016, updated 5th July 2020