As Toolroom Records turns 10, Mark Knight shares his tracks that shaped a decade

Emma Gritt

knight mark 300x220 As Toolroom Records turns 10, Mark Knight shares his tracks that shaped a decadeToolroom Records celebrated a decade in the house music game this year. To mark the occasion, they embarked upon a 10-week tour, which included a special back to back Toolroom Records extravaganza at Ministry of Sound, the first time the original London superclub had ever allowed one brand to set up shop for an entire weekend.

Here label boss and Grammy-nominated producer DJ Mark Knight shares his seminal tracks – and the stories behind them – from each of the years that have flown by since Toolroom Records became reality back in 2003 and began its journey to the trendsetting international clubbing brand it has become today.

2003: Audiodrive I Feel Good

You always remember the first track you sign and this was ours. I Feel Good has an infectious piano hook and a vocoded sample. One half of Audiodrive was Martijn Ten Velden, with whom I went on to make some of my best work shortly after we released this. As with all Martijn’s work, the production work on this record is quality, something we’ve strived for in every Toolroom release.

2004: Hool vs Bruckheimer In The Beginning (Mark Knight & Martijn ten Velden mix)

This record was the one that really put us on the map. Martijn and I had remixed the already fantastic original, and I remember being at the Miami Conference in 2004 and literally everyone was playing it – Pete Tong, Seb Fontaine, Eric Morillo. We sold out of the vinyl run immediately. This track sums up the Toolroom ethos in many ways – it’s a big, playable club record for the main room – that go-to record a DJ needs in their box.

2005: Dave Spoon 21st Century E.P

This still is the best unsolicited demo I’ve ever received. The fact that the three tracks on this E.P. are completely different – one’s tribal, one progressive, one kind of jazz/Chicago house – showed early indications of Simon’s talent. He’s now gone on to great things as Shadowchild, and over the years has given us some great tracks.

2006: Fedde Le Grand Just Trippin

I think we were the first UK label to sign Fedde. Although his number 1 hit Put Your Hands Up For Detroit ended up being released before Just Trippin, on a different label. Maybe we signed the wrong one? Regardless, it’s a fantastic house track and we’ve gone on to do great things with this uber-talented Dutchman!

2007: Mark Knight & D Ramriez Colombian Soul

This track was inspired by a mini tour of Colombia I went on with Dean (D. Ramirez). The details of which are fairly hazy, but it ended with me being chased be security through Bogota airport because I’d left my CD wallet at check-in. Colombian Soul probably marked the label’s shift towards a harder-edged, more underground sound. It incorporated a whole load of influences and (I hope) we created something unique with this one.

2008: Mark Knight & Funkagenda Man With The Red Face

I’d started a production partnership with Adam (Funkagenda) and we’d already released a few records to good reception. We knew we needed something special for the Miami conference of that year, and we’d gone right up to the wire by starting this track the night before we had to fly out. We both loved the riff to Man With The Red Face – a seminal Laurent Garnier record – so we reformatted it to make a more palatable dance arrangement. We played the end result at the Beatport Miami party the very next day, and the momentum went from there – it went on to be one of the biggest dance tracks of 2008.

2009: Mark Knight & D. Ramirez v Underworld Downpipe

Getting Underworld on board with Toolroom was such an honour – they are genuine icons in dance music. This track is still the one I’m proudest of making. It took us a year to get it right. It features a wonderful vocal from Karl Hyde that just sticks in your mind after hearing it. This to me is the classic Toolroom sounding record.

2010: Die & Interface Bright Lights

For our 100th release in 2011 we wanted to do something special. Having defined a particular sound over the last couple of years – main room tech house – people were expecting a similar thing for this landmark release. But instead, we chose to release a drum n’ bass record from Die & Interface, to show people Toolroom was a label for quality dance music, no matter what the genre. We even got Bog Daddy Kane to put down 16 bars on the record.

2011: Coldplay Paradise (Fedde Le Grand Remix)

We got to release this remix of Coldplay in 2011, and that really made the music industry sit up and take note of us. To think a label started out of a toolshed in Maidstone could release the biggest band in the world is a great story when you think about it. Fedde’s remix is superb, lifting an already anthemic top-line into an even more emphatic sound for dancefloors. This remix won all kinds of awards and I think widened up our label into a bigger audience.

2012: TEED Your Love (Mark Knight Remix)

Perhaps because of Coldplay, major labels have come to us since to release dance remixes of their artists. My remix of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ Your Love was one of our biggest records last year. To be fair you can’t really go wrong remixing a track this good.

2013: Weiss Welcome to Weiss City Vol 1

Despite some of the bigger artists we’ve released on Toolroom, we’re fundamentally about finding and cultivating our own. Weiss is the alter ego of a well known producer in the UK, who is releasing music without the preconceptions of his previous work. It’s fresh, cool, underground and superbly produced – everything we wanted Toolroom released to be when we started back in 2003.

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