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Mark Tarmonea [Interview]

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Mark Tarmonea’s passion for music awoke at early age. He was born in Sibiu, as a son of a musician and a painter. But the family came into conflict with the communist regime and had to leave the country before the Romanian Revolution. So they escaped into the US, Canada, Australia and finally arrived in Berlin, Hamburg and then Munich. At the age of seven, Mark taught himself to play keyboard, with 13 guitar, later bass and drums, and he started to write his own songs. “Music always has given me power at this unsteady time“, he says. In the beginning of 20, he started to work as a ghost producer for various artists and earned his first money as a DJ. This gave him the possibility to set up a small studio, so he could produce his own tracks with analog synths and record his vocals. “Music is my vocation, nothing else“. Mark, who has committed himself to sophisticated electronic dance music, is celebrated by a continuous growing fanbase, which appreciates his characterful sound and especially Mark’s charismatic rough voice. Emotional, impulsive, authentic and above all live a mind-blowing experience. He is hard-working on new sounds, composes, sings and puts a lot of passion into details. His tracks move between house and techno. In a short time he played as a DJ in many different german clubs and at festivals like Worldclubdome, SonneMondSterne, Helene Beach, Sputnik Spring break and more. With Mark’s most recent work, ‘Run & Hide’ being released in July via his Eye And Eye imprint, we catch up with the German artist for and exclusive interview. Enjoy!

Hello Mark, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi PA, thanks for having me. I´m good how are you?

The last one I listened to was Innellea – Targo, a great tune.

How’s your year so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

This year has been amazing so far. I’ve produced a lot of new music and had some successful releases on my labels. Also I played some fulfilling live gigs, with some of my all time favs like Oliver Koletzki, Jan Blomqvist, Niconé & Monika Kruse. 

Next week I´ll play live on MH5 rooftop in Munich and going to shoot a music video for my next EP.

Do you consider yourself a live-act or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

I’ve been producing music for over 20 years now, long time before I started performing as live act, for me it´s a mixture of both. Playing live is what I actually enjoy the most because of the interaction between me and the crowd. 

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

  1.  Stephan Bodzin – Sonnenwind
  2.  Vangelis – Blade Runner (End Titles)
  3.  Goldie – Inner City Life
  4.  Nine Inch Nails – Closer
  5.  Underworld – Born Slippy

These were tracks that heavily influenced the way I perceive music and encouraged me to produce electronic music on a professional level.

Talk to us about growing up and living in Germany, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

As a child of politically persecuted refugees, it was not easy for me during my first years in Germany. When your surrounding excludes you for no other reason than being slightly different, it will of course be difficult for you to accept your surrounding and it´s culture, including it´s musical culture.

I found my home in electronic music at a very early age, completely uninfluenced by the German music scene. Nowadays, many German artists are among my favorites, and the German electronic music scene is also opening up to me as an artist and my music.

What are your favorite venues to play in Germany and why?

Especially as a live act it’s always nice to play at festivals. 

The Sonne Mond Sterne festival has been one of the highlights in my career.

I would very much like to play at the Fusion Festival one day.

What does your set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in your most recent tracks? Maybe on Run & Hide for example

Unlike many of my colleagues, I clearly prefer analog gear. 

It starts with the analog drum machine and ends on an analog mixing desk, where the faders are still operated by hand. 

I produce most of my tracks with the Analog Rytm MK2 as basic beat machine, my bass comes from the Moog Sub37 or the Sub Phatty, my leads and pads come from polyphonic synthesizers by Dave Smith. 

My vocals are being recorded through a Neumann TLM103 and NEVE 1073 Preamp. 

Working in a pure analog environment is much more complicated and quite time consuming, but at the end of the day it simply sounds more valuable to me. 

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

My own tracks require a lot more creativity than remixes. 

Sometimes I sit on lyrics for days or on the perfect vocal recording.

Remixing is so much easier for me. 

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

I always use my smartphone to collect ideas when writing tracks because it´s easy and accessible at all times.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

It may sound strange, but I’ve never asked for feedback on my music. 

Whether you like a piece of music or not depends a lot on the personal experiences you have had in your life.

If a finished song inspires me over a longer period of time there’s a good chance I’ll release it.

Talk to us a bit about your labels, ‘Bull In A China Shop’ and ‘Eye And Eye’, how do they differ and what is your vision for the each of them respectively? 

Eye And Eye is more underground, with an aesthetic sound design. Bull in A China Shop can be harder, but also more commercial. Multiculturalism plays a big role on both labels. I try to give up-and-coming artists from all over the world a real chance to become visible within my means.

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to your imprints?

When you produce a new track, try to take cues from what popular electronic artists are currently playing, while still trying to sound as original as possible.

Looking back over your discography, what release or track holds the best memories for you and is there a correlation between that track and how successful you are today?

Well, so far I’ve had the most fun working on “Prelusion”, a few beers from the Späti and letting the Moog scream loudly into the night.

The track has now more than 5 million plays on Spotify and is certainly one of the reasons why many electronic music lovers have discovered me.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Basically everything in Frank Wiedemann’s studio. 

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

My superpower would be granting wishes like the genie in Aladdin. 

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

I´d travel into the past. I would try to prevent some terrible things that have impacted the world in a negative way.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

The biggest risk I ever took was going independent as a live act, producer and label owner without any financial support. For years now I have lived solely from my music and gigs, it is pure gambling every day again and again. 

What is your current favorite place to eat and what do you generally order there?

In the evening you can often find me at the Italian restaurant around the corner, 

I love Italian food, especially pasta.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Taking care of friends and family, animals, being in the nature and pasta.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, release some new tracks and hopefully tour a lot as a live act. Don’t miss out on catching me playing live.

Follow Mark on all his socials here: https://linktr.ee/marktarmonea

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