Mark Doyle created Hed Kandi in 1997 and it was his choice of artwork, music and presentation that succeeded in distinguishing the brand from other house music labels. Mark had previously run the jazzfm compilation label and after much success was asked to come up with a new concept that the listeners might relate to and purchase. Mark produced an album that he would want to buy, It had to have great music, stunning packaging and a unique look, it was here that Hed Kandi was born. The idea of Jason Brooks “Kandi Girl” style artwork started with the release of Nu Cool 2 in 1999 (the first volume of Nu Cool were re-released with new artwork). The designs were by British illustrator Jason Brooks whose work Mark had first seen On flyers for the Pushca club night. Mark stumbled across Jason’s contact details on his Work for Faberge’ and contacted him to ask if he would be interested in suppling images for the albums. Jason provided around 50 artwork designs for the brand until 2005 when they both left to join Mark Doyle’s new company.
Fierce Angel is globally renowned for throwing great parties and awesome CD releases.
For those that don’t know the brand as well as we do where have you visited in the past 12 months?
It’s been a busy year so far! we started the year in Mexico performing at an amazing event with our entire team including another DJ, A Singer, Sax and Keyboards. Then a bunch of gigs in the UK including Wales, Barnsley, London & Newcastle. After that it was overseas again to Singapore, KL & Bangkok and the summer saw me in Ibiza, Majorca & Mauritius!
What are the differences between each show that stick out mostly so far this year?
Climate? the venue production? The advertising campaigns and hype online?
Climate ! I spend my time jumping between the exotic heat of Asia and the very changeable weather of the UK. This year we focussed on producing some spectacular London events and one in Ibiza so the amount of work we put into them made them all the more special.
You have been in the game for a long time most notably for founding the ever popular brand Hed Kandi.
What is that really keeps you continually pushing the boundaries of all things house music and getting booked to perform all over the globe?
It’s the music, the people and the atmosphere, I don’t think I could ever be described as someone who pushes boundaries as I’ve always played feelgood vocal disco and house. No matter what music style is currently on the cutting edge the core of great vocal house music has always been there. Interestingly with the success of brands like Defected’s Glitterbox the whole sound I introduced and championed with Hed Kandi is very much back on the dance-floor.
How have you seen the marketing at a record label owner change in the past 10 years to keep the sales happening?
Everything has changed in the music market. we really see our releases now as marketing tools and brand builders for our events. Streaming, Piracy and the digital marketplace has reduced the income from sales significantly, so it’s now even more difficult to survive as an independent label.
The CDS you have released much e countless by now, which one has been the favourite one to date and why? (please include some artwork)
Obviously besides the classic Kandi CD’s (my favourite being Back To Love” )my two current favourites are the two artist projects we’ve worked on over the last few years. Mirifico “The Last Unicorn” involved a huge project of introducing singers to the producers and working on an entire concept album from start to finish. The Bonnie Bailey album took nearly 15 years to make happen and involved collecting all her track from her entire career.
What preparation goes into a CD / compilation ? How do you go about choosing the tracks ? Are you always looking for new ones or its been whats rocking your sets recently? Classics? Do you include any classics or its generally all upfront house cuts?
There’s no fixed plan to creating a compilation I treat it like I would a DJ set or a radio show. It has to have a beginning a middle and an end and it needs to stand the test of time. So it really involves picking those tried and tested tracks from my sets and arranging them into an order that makes sense.
How about the artwork and design ? How do you go about choosing such cool designs? From Hed Kandi to Fierce Angel the designs always pop out on the shelves and on the download portals. Do you always use the same designer? Do you have more than one on each release?
We stick with the same designer to maintain continuity in the brand and the look and feel of the releases. Artist projects tend to have separate designers that fit in with the style of that particular artist. How do I choose them … I’m not really sure the music usually guides me to an idea in my head and I try to get my designer to bring it to reality.
What about the technology in mixing compilations compared to when you first started out? We are a million miles away from how it used to work so would be great to hear it from someone as legendary as yourself and how things have changed.
Actually there’s great software now and all sorts of innovations but I’m going to say the way I do it now and the way we used to do it is not a million miles apart. The main skill and art comes down to a great engineer. In earlier years I would produce a rough mix on two decks recorded into a dat which would act as a guide for the engineer and he would then take the individual tracks and mix them together using my original as a guide. These days it’s a lot easier to edit mix and record but the two processes are not too far away from each other.
How about all things Fierce Angel what else is happening in 2018 and into 2019 that you can tell us about? Any new projects just around the corner?
We are focussing on artist projects with new singles from Bonnie Bailey a new album from Soraya Vivian and possibly another featuring our sax player Lady V. Lots more artist EPs and some collaborations with some other labels including Tropical Velvet. On the event side we’ve just launched a sub brand called “Shine On” which is all about playing the classics and there’s lots more travelling involved.
If Mark Doyle wasn’t DJing around the globe week in week out what would he be doing as a career looking back over things from sunny Bali?
In all honesty I’ve been doing a lot of cooking recently and quite like the idea of a bar with food or a food truck… not sure thats where I would have ended up had I not DJ’ed I’d probably have ended up as one of those crazy holiday hosts or singing (badly) on a cruise ship!!!
How about the family? anyone else in the music game or coming thru the ranks?
The family currently consists of the wife, a dog and 4 cats none are showing any musical aptitude which is good as I’m not sure I could stand the competition
Any producers or DJS that are starting to heat up your radar you would like to share with us?
Well the Fierce Collective is producing some amazing music but then I’m biased as that’s me! Elsewhere I’m doing a lot of work with Kort who runs Tropical Velvet and is an amazing producer, another favourite is Sean Dickson who is also known as Hi Fi Sean his latest track Lost Without U is simply awesome.
Next up for Mark Doyle is????
A few days by the pool at Karma Kandara, a trip to the Philippines with Bonnie Bailey and a very cool party in London, I’m also working on getting Team Fierce back to Australia via Bali in early 2019!
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