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Mark Archer is rave royalty. He has been at the heart of the movement since day one as part of Altern-8, serving up anthem after anthem in their iconic boiler suits and gas masks. He has recently written a book about his exploits, which is out now, and the duo—who also featured Chris Peat—is about to reissue their seminal debut album Full On… Mask Hysteria. This Saturday Mark he plays Brixton Old School Rave with the likes of A Guy Called Gerald, so we caught up with him to speak about his long and storied career.

Hi Mark. How are you, what’s kept you busy recently?

Very well thank you, trying to catch up sleep after two festivals in a row at the weekend but apart from that everything is great. The book and the FOMH reissue have been the main things keeping me busy as well as DJing or doing live PA's at the weekends, I've also been working on some tracks for a new release on Super Rhythm Trax as well as doing some podcasts.

Tells about the book - what’s in it, how did you find writing it? Was it like therapy?

The book is basically about my life from when I was born up until when I got
Married to Nikki in April. It's not a book just about Altern 8 although that does feature heavily, but it's about the time before music was such a big part of my life and the times when I've been literally penniless with no gigs or chances of getting any.
The book was written by Andrew woods who also did Billy Daniel Bunters book, he interviewed me every day for about 3 weeks in total and just let me blabber on while he recorded it all. It was only when I was talking about it that it made me realise how important some really small things in life have been so in a way it was like therapy.

Full On Mask is being reissued. What are your memories of that period, or making that album?

1991/92 were great years, it's where Altern 8 went from only really having one release out and being pretty unknown to having four top forty hits as well as he album so they were very exciting times as well as very busy, we were gigging most weekends promoting singles or trying out new tracks to see if they would work as singles.

Did you think or hope back then you would still be doing this now? Did you think rave would last, let alone your own career?

There's no way in my wildest dreams I'd have thought I'd still be able to do what I love all these years later. I've been so lucky go to the places I've been, met the people that I have and the experiences I've lived through. When I first started Nexus 21 in 1989 I started a scrap book as I never thought it would last and here I am now playing places like Berghain and Glastonbury.

What have you learnt since then, what hard lessons or industry tips have you picked up that have made life easier?

It's all a learning curve but the two main things I've learned and it's not just about music but life itself, don't waste time with bad people/friendships as they will bring you down, just surround yourself with people who like you for you, and that the main thing in life is to be happy, when all is said and done, no matter what you are doing, where you live or how much money you have, happiness comes above it all.

What’s it like to play these old school sets as you will in London soon - something you have to endure or something you enjoy?

It's my life and my passion. I want to try and keep the spirit of the golden era of rave alive by playing out as often as I can and not just to oldskool audiences, this music is for everyone. If I didn't love doing it I wouldn't still be here.

Generally in your sets, how much new music do you play vs old music? How long do you still spend looking for music these days?

I'm usually booked to play oldskool so that's what I play, no remixed versions or updates, just the real original mixes from back then. Occasionally I'm asked to play newer house, techno or acid and then I'll play newer stuff as well as a few tracks from the last 20 years.

And how do the two compare, new and old? Are the production values maybe better but ideas lacking, or are there any other trends you have spotted?

There's a lot of producers at the moment trying to make their tracks sound like 80's/90's productions which is cool but some are going out and the quality is terrible.  Old chewed up hissy cassette quality was the best we had and not a choice, so why people try to emulate it when there's all this new technology is beyond me.

What should people expect at the Brixton Old School rave - will you plan anything special?

A mini journey through the early rave years with acid, piano house, bleepy and Belgian techno as well as breakbeat hardcore. A few anthems and a bit of crate digging to pull out some more underground gems.

What else are you working on or excited about?

Hopefully I'll be working on a new Trackman live set and take that out before the end of the year and work on some new Trackman material so there'll be more techno coming from me soon.

Mark Archer will play alongside A Guy Called Gerald and more on Saturday 20th August at Brixton Jamm, 

261 Brixton Road, Brixton, London SW9 6LH.

 

Tickets and further info - Click here

 


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Rave royalty Mark Archer appearing at Brixton Jamm
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