2021 is already looking like it’s taking shape for Toolbox House artist Mark Armitage. Following what can only be described as a dream year in 2020, Mark kicks off 2021 holding nothing back. His new single “Hey Hey” is currently riding up the Beatport House Hype Charts, so we thought we’d take up a little bit of his valuable time and have a well needed catch up…
01: Great to pin you down Mark, its been 8 months since we last spoke with you. Has it been a crazy 8 months in a world gone mad or have you managed to keep yourself grounded during the pandemic?
It really doesn’t feel that long ago does it?! I think everyone has had their fair dose of crazy over the last 12 months haven’t they? For me, it has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs and I don’t think that rollercoaster is about to end any time soon. Without doubt one of the positives of this journey so far is being able to spend so much time in the studio focusing on making music. Honestly, without that I might of lost the plot!
02: Your new release “Hey Hey” has just been released on Toolbox House and we have to say, it’s got to be one of your strongest, if not the strongest release so far. Tell us about the direction of your sound with this track and does it set the tone for Mark Armitage in 2021?
Thank you! I’m focused on making records for the clubs now. I’d like to think that we will start to see snippets of clubs re-opening this year and when they do I want to have an arsenal of club ready tracks to play. Hey Hey definitely fits the bill for this. Its got groove, the “Hands in the air factor” and an easy vocal that people can sing. Winner!
03: You’ve been pretty busy with a number of releases not just on Toolbox, but on Vivifier and forthcoming on Whore House. When writing a track to you have a label in mind or is it a case of writing the track and seeing where it ends up?
For me its all about letting the creativity lead the way. It just doesn’t seem to work when I try to pigeon whole a track into a certain type of sound. A lot of my music has a tough edge to it so Toolbox House is always a natural fit for me however its always good to dip your toe into other sounds, experiment and see where it takes you.
04: Talk us through your studio Mark. What secret tools to you have to work with when writing your tracks?
As far as hardware is concerned the primary tool has to be the PC. Until recently I was making music on a 13 year old PC – Upgrading was the best decision I made! Its actually a PC built for gaming so its pretty powerful and I cant stress enough how much of a difference that has made. I also have a Focusrite soundcard which enables me to play my projects through my KRK Rokit 6 studio monitors. Software wise Ableton is my DAW of choice and has been for years, It just makes sense to me. I use a lot of stock plug ins that come with Ableton too. I get asked quite frequently what external plug ins I use and the answer is 6 at the most:
Antares Auto Tune
Little Alter Boy
Waves Vocal Rider
OEK Sound – Soothe (UKE put me onto this one and its fantastic!)
Everything else I use is already a stock plug in with Ableton. Its all in there!
05: For people reading this who are just starting out producing, what advice can you give to help when laying down a track?
I think this depends on your background to be honest. I’ve been playing other peoples records in clubs and bars for over 15 years so by default you become very familiar with standard track arrangements so when I first started making tracks I already had strong idea how it should flow. If you are new to the production / DJ game then I would recommend finding a track you like from one of your favourite artists and use that as a reference template to make yours. Some other key fundamentals to get to grips with:
Compression and Sidechaining
Reverb / Decay
Adding width to your mix
06: You’re now a regular guest on InDemandRadio. How did this come about?
Carlos Reiro from In Demand reached out to me a few months back as he had heard my music and was really keen on getting me involved on his show as a guest. We did a few weeks guest mixes as a trial run and the listening figures looked really healthy so I became a regular on the show. I’m chuffed to be involved as In Demand is absolutely the radio station to be involved with if your from the North West area. They play music that the commercial radio stations wouldn’t touch with a barge pole and its great! The Carlos Reiro show airs live on DAB every Thursday night from midnight! I would encourage anyone who has an interest in dance music to check it out!
07: With night clubs still closed due to Covid, how are you managing to connect with your audience other than on the radio? We know social media is unquestionably an important tool for artists, but are you using other platforms like streaming?
Yes – Once a month I do a livestream with Hush Hush – its a really good platform for DJ’s to stream to a big audience! For me its still important to play music to people and get that interaction (although we would all prefer doing it in the clubs)
08: We’ve looked back and your first release on Toolbox House was back in April 2019, almost 2 years ago and quite a heavy number of tracks released. Tell us about the journey and if you feel its important to associate with an established brand such as Toolbox which has been going for 18 years this year.
100% its so important to any artist looking to get signed. There are a lot of labels out there that don’t seem to go the distance and Toolbox is not one of them. For me its an honour and a privilege to be part of such an established brand.
09: 2021… spill the beans…
Sex, drugs and House Music
10: Finally, for a bit of inspiration. Fast forward 12 months.. What’s going to be going on?
Blue sky – We are back in the clubs playing for a sold out Toolbox House event, the label is competing for the #1 spot on the Beatport charts and COVID is a thing of the past – lets see how it goes!
Thank you very much Mark. We look forward to what you have in store for us for the remainder of 2021 and beyond
Mark’s new track “Hey Hey” is out now on Toolbox House exclusively at Beatport and to stream on all major platforms and you can download here: