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DJ Mark Pemberton's love of DJing stems back as far as 1991, as a 17 year old he was about to experience something new to him, something unique, something that would change his outlook on music forever. He found himself stood outside Telford Ice rink on November 22nd 1991 waiting in anticipation for the night ahead.
"The build up to the event, getting the tickets, standing in the queue, getting past the security and finally into the event was all part of the experience, many people will relate to that. The event itself completely blew me away, although I had been aware of the underground music scene for some time I wasn't prepared for what was about to happen, the feeling of unity and respect was overwhelming, I knew that this was something special...."
After this Mark continued to visit many underground all night parties all over the country, soaking up the atmosphere and becoming more and more excited by the whole scene. Residing in a small town near Wolverhampton, Mark found that he had to travel far and wide in order to get to events that interested him. In September 1991 a club night in Wolverhampton would change all of that, Quest would open its doors for the very first time. Mark would be a frequent visitor to this night for the next few years.
"Quest finally gave local people a weekly event that opened the door for many other nights in the area, the night was another major influence on me and many others"
In 1992 Mark decided that DJing was going to be something that he wanted to try, the influence gained over the previous months cemented this. He started collecting vinyl and saved up enough money to buy his first set of turntables.
"My first set of turntables were an odd pair of belt drive's, they were utter garbage. Looking back, anyone who could mix on those was worthy of a booking !!"
Mark quickly out grew these and saved up enough cash to get his first SL1210 mk2's. His vinyl collection was getting bigger, he was buying all kinds of music during 1992, everything from Hardcore to Piano House. His love of collecting vinyl was clear to see, visiting local record shops and record fayres in order to get the vinyl he wanted and build up a strong collection, his main love at this time was still the underground hardcore sound of the types of events already mentioned. All of the time Mark was tucked away in his bedroom practicing mixing, recording tapes and giving them to his friends to listen to, all the time making mistakes but learning from them.
In 1993 Mark noticed that the scene he had fallen in love with had started to change, he had long been a fan of the underground hardcore sound, break beats,hoovers and stabs. The music was changing, becoming faster and appeared to be 'breaking off' into different genres. Mark still loved the scene and kept buying the vinyl, the sound had now evolved into 'Jungle' and what we now know as 'Drum and Bass'. Mark recalls this pivotal time in the scene:
"1993 was a very strange year for me, the music was evolving, of course this was inevitable, but incredibly worrying, I was still loving the scene, loving the music and buying the vinyl, but for me personally, the events were losing their 'spark'. I remember attending Pandemonium Andromeda 6 in July 1993 with only one friend, thinking how times had changed, I attended Andromeda 2 with many more. Close friends had fallen out of love with the scene and were looking for something different. I realised that the music had evolved, but not over night, my ignorance had blinded me to it. Of course the music was always evolving, I was simply being carried along."
In 1993 Mark was asked to attend a club night in Manchester, he attended with a bunch of friends, some of these friends had already been to this club night and were bringing back great feedback. Mark was at a crossroads and was confused about his music preferences. What was about to happen would put Mark on a very different path indeed, he was about to attend 'Life@Bowlers' for the first time.
"I vividly remember driving up the M6 without any preconceptions, I had heard many a good tale about the event's, DJ Welly and Carl Cox had played there amongst many others, so I was quietly optimistic ! The sheer size of the venue completely blew me away, the queue was six people deep and all around the building, I remember thinking that we were probably going to get to the door and be told it was full ! As we walked in I remember the very first track we heard - 2 Bad Mice: Bombscare. My head nearly fell off, of course these days people wouldn't bat an eyelid at such a track, but at this particular time, it was just what I was looking for, confirmation that other people still loved the music I love. The fire inside was ignited once again, the DJ's were mixing breakbeat hardcore, house and piano house all in the same set. That was the way forward I thought......"
In 1994 Mark finally built up the confidence to put his name around as a DJ, he began to DJ for friends at private parties playing all genres of music. Mark continued make audio tapes and send out to promoters all over the country, he recalls how frustrating it was to keep sending out tapes with little or no response.
"Of course when you are striving to achieve something and feel like you are getting nowhere, its natural to become disheartened and demotivated. At these times you need positive people around you, the easy option is to give up."
Mark continued to collect vinyl and record mix tapes. In 1995/96 Mark was offered the chance to play in the second room of a local club, 'The New World'. The club was being run at the time by the owner of Marks local record shop, Mark was of course a regular visitor of the shop and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Whilst downstairs was hosting the likes of Al Mackenzie, Dave Camacho and many more Mark was now regularly playing 1991 breakbeat, house, piano house and 1993 drum and bass upstairs. This continued for the next few years, until like many other venues, the club made way for apartments.
Mark's love for the music was as strong as ever and he started to play uplifting, vocal and funky house in 2000. His roots and passion were of course still cemented in the underground scene, but he was enjoying playing in local clubs. Mark did this for 5 years, in 2005 Mark took a conscious break in order to have his children. Something he obviously doesn't regret.
"I always wanted children, for me they are the most important thing in life. DJing/music is my passion but family is my life."
In 2011 Mark decided that he had never really given DJing his best shot or full focus, he thought it was about time that he really looked to achieve something. He had still continued to collect vinyl and now had a huge collection of all genres. Mark felt that his knowledge of the scene which he had grown over what was now 20 years, alongside with what he believed was definite ability, would be enough to help him. He was of course aware that in the six years that he had been away times had changed, the digital age was born, people were using software, CDJ's and time coded vinyl. This did put Mark off, he was also aware that there was a revolution taking place. Old skool nights were taking place in full force all over the country, everything old skool was being played. Mark decided to start recording and sending links to promoters and organisers.
2011 and 2012 were great years for Mark. He found himself playing at many events including:
Quadrant Park Reunions
Flashback / Strawberry fields festival
Mark has also held down his own weekly old skool radio show.
Mark remembers the last two years with fondness and looks to the future with great anticipation.
"When I made the decision to get back into DJing I could never have dreamed that things would go so well. I have been very lucky over the last two years enjoying lots of support from some very special people, not least my wife, without her I wouldn't have been able to even attempt it. I have been lucky enough to DJ alongside and meet some people who I have looked up to, admired and drawn inspiration from for over 20 years. Of course the internet has made it 'easier' to reach out to a wider audience, but the knowledge and the determination still needs to be there, there is no question that my determination is stronger than ever. I think this comes from the fact that I never really feel like I have achieved anything, meaning that I am always hungry for more. I pride myself on doing things the 'right' way, I have no ego to soothe and only DJ for the love of it, I leave others to say whether I am worthy of bookings or not, I just continue to be myself and hopefully I'll see you on a dance floor soon.