Name: Mark Broom
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: Mark Broom's Fast Fünfzig EP is available on LP via Rekids.
Equipment Recommendations: The first one would be a recent discovery which is the ’Surge’ VST, It’s a open-source digital synthesiser featuring a whole host of patches by some leading lights including Inigo Kennedy and has been working well for me. I have to mention the Electron Octatrack MK1 as well, as I’ve been rediscovering it again and having so much fun playing about with samples and doing many re-edits.
If you enjoyed this interview with Mark Broom and would like to find out more about his music, visit his official website. For current updates and more music, head over to his profiles on Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter and Instagram.
What was your first studio like?
My first studio was in London and I shared it with my then musical and Pure Plastic label partner Dave Hill.
The main focal point was the Akai MPC 60 which was and still is one of the best pieces of equipment I’ve worked with. We also had an Akai S950 and a Soundcraft Spirt mixing desk. We had a bunch of effects units and synths like the Juno 60 and the Novation Bass Station. Over the years we upgraded the MPC to the 3000 model and added some additional bit and pieces here and there.
How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
About 15 years ago I moved away from London to the countryside and Dave kept most of the hardware equipment as I was going down the computer route. So my studio became a lot smaller as I was and still am doing 95% of my productions inside the box with my MacBook laptop and Ableton Live.
I love the SSL Duende Native studio bundle and I purchased an Elektron Octatrack a few years ago and have been having loads of fun with that recently - check my Instagram page! (laughs)
What motivates you to buy new gear: The curiosity to try new things, a specific function, something else entirely?
I’m not one to always buy new gear as I have quite an old school approach with equipment and software and like to use just a few pieces of kit.
I'm loving Portal by Output which is a ton of fun and I was lucky to get given a Bass Station 2 by Novation (Shouts to Alex Franz) which is lovely and the AFX mode is really great.
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? How do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
Recently I've been getting more into using step sequencers and my favourite is the MDD Snake by Maxime Dangles for Max For Live. It's such a cool VST and I’ve been getting great results from it. One of the tracks on my new album ‘EFX’ was created using the software.
Historically speaking, there has always been a close relationship between technological and artistic progress. Accordingly, there have been musical paradigm shifts accompanied by technological innovation. Which of these shifts do you rate particularly important for your own music?
I do miss the old hardware way of working as it was hands on and more about capturing a moment whereas with computer-based stuff you're always looking at the screen and mouse clicking.
Saying that, some of the stuff I’ve made over the years would have been impossible without the current technology I’m using. So it’s definitely helped me a lot for my recent productions.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
One piece of software that I couldn’t live without is the Madrona Labs Aalto synth. It’s such a powerful machine and it has a modular synth vibe without the hefty price tag of buying a full rig. Combining this with the MDD Snake sequencer has been a great life line to my studio productions.
A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?
I like both options as they offer different results. As I mentioned earlier, I’m doing most of my productions inside the box but I do sometimes miss the hands-on approach of a real hardware studio.
My good friend James Ruskin has a lot of outboard gear and a small Modular set up. So when I visit to work on our ‘The Fear Ratio’ project it’s a nice change and fun approach to the process.
From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customised devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?
Like I mentioned before I’ve been using the MDD Snake sequencer a lot and it’s a great way to get some ideas together. If you play around with the note lengths, time signatures and patterns you can get some great things.
I've also been using this with the Novation Bass Station and doing long live takes and then editing the best bits afterwards.
Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?
I usually go into the studio with an anything goes frame of mind and just see what flows. Depending on my mood, 90% of my music is dance floor Techno so I’ll load up the Drumazon 909 and try to get a groove going and then start to delve into my VST library for the main elements.