Last Saturday – 18 July 2020 – we interviewed Mark Otten. Mark is a DJ, producer, coach, teacher… musician… and so on and on. He has worked with a lot of talent in the industry. You can see who they are in the interview. By the way, the first interview at our ‘extra’ live stream location: Artone Studios
Mark Otten: born August 4, 1978, Goirle. Now living in Amsterdam for about 13 years. With (almost) 42 years of life experience, he has a whole career in electronic music behind him (and in front of him). Oddly enough, the study was a completely different one: business engineering (TU/E). But blood is thicker than water. So Mark Otten was always composing and playing music. He used to hit pots and pans as a child and ended up taking drum lessons for 8 years. And that’s not very strange when you consider that both parents are also very musical. And that at home, a lot of music was being played ánd listened to. There was even an attic full of instruments where everyone could do whatever he (or she) wanted.
Given the fact that Otten stayed in Tilburg (with his friends), but studied in Eindhoven, he drove by the RockAcademy every day on his way to the station. Time and again he dreamed of what it would be like to study there. What would have happened then? Not entirely surprisingly, he did his internship at Armada Music. (His project was about digital distribution). In retrospect that turned out to be a very good choice, because he was certainly seen as a musical talent there.
After his internship Mark Otten was asked to continue working for Armada. However, he wanted to keep time to make music. And he did. So he combined his work at Armada with making music. The advantage is that he now knows how a record label operates: he has worked there and has been able to observe the processes intensively.
His breakthrough – musically – came when his father brought him a keyboard with which Otten could really put together a song himself. He now could start composing! At the same time the first PCs came (so we are talking 1MB of memory, MIDI and the 80’s here!). In short: Mark Otten was going to make songs. In high school Otten was discovered by Mark Manniën. The first releases are on the label Klubbheads. So no music under his own name yet.
A second moment that was important was during an band exercise of a friend at the Rock Academy. The brother of Armnin van Buuren – Eller van Buuren – stood in for the guitarist at that moment. They got to talking and Eller indicated that Mark could give some music. He did (Mushroom Therapy). Three days later Armin van Buuren called to say he wanted to work with Mark Otten.
Shortly after that Armin van Buuren opened the BBC1 Essential Mix with a track by Mark Otten. And he was in the tracklist under his own name. That was obviously his breakthrough. And so the beginning of his career. Later on Tiësto started using tracks by Mark Otten in his mixes.
Mark Otten DJ himself. He was still studying. And you can’t combine that. And at first he didn’t like it: it was easy and ‘selling air’, he thought. Of course that’s not true, but that was his opinion at the time. Later on, he choose to go into teaching: discovering new talent and coaching. Preparing them for the music industry.
And that’s where the Rock Academy comes into play again: this time, Robin Morsink (a.o. Fedde Le Grand) came into the picture. He was the first (official) teacher for music production; at the RockAcademy. More came later. Robin was looking for an extra teacher. And that became Mark Otten. That was around 2008 / 2009.
In the RockAcademy – and later also the Herman Brood Academy and Haarlems Conservartorium – a lot of talent has passed by. Among others Martin Garrix (Martijn Gerard Garritsen) who was educated at the Herman Brood Academy. He started at the age of 16 (4 vwo), but had hits almost immediately. But he’s not the only one Mark Otten remembered. Julian Jordan, De Sluwe Vos, Maduk, et cetera. All talented people.
Meanwhile Mark Otten also teaches in his own studio in Haarlem and at STMPD studios (by Martin Garrix). And that too is going very well. He gets students from all over the world. And students with various talents and interests in various genres. That of course makes the work very interesting.
Clearly, Mark Otten is a multi-talented person. And a mix of several interesting elements. Not only does he make music himself, but he also knows how to convey the skillset to others. There aren’t many people who can do both. He has worked with several big names and knows the internal processes of record labels. That’s very convenient, of course, since making music is one thing. Releasing it is something completely different. If you can do both and teach this to new talent: then the circle is in fact complete.
We thank Mark Otten for the pleasant conversation!
Interview Mark Otten – DJ, Producer, Coach