Celebrating Old Skool Music, Culture and Legacy
Good news for vinyl fans…
A selection of Mark Archer’s early tracks – recorded under the name DJ Nex – are soon to be given a new lease of life on vinyl. The Nex EP and Poundstretcher EP – originally released in ’92 and ’93 – will soon be made available as a remastered triple-pack vinyl album via Music Mondays.
We caught up with Mark Archer in advance of the album’s release to get the lowdown on the project and find out what’s next for the man behind the mask…
Can you give us a bit of background on where DJ Nex fits in with your other production work?
At the time I was doing the DJ Nex tracks I was very, very productive. I was going to loads of raves, hearing loads of new music and soaking it all up, but I was recording more music than we could use for the Altern 8 project. A lot of the Altern 8 tracks were really DJ Nex ones that we either used as they were or we went into the studio and we added to them. When we released Frequency (a DJ Nex track) on the limited edition 12″, with the Shelleys car park interview on the other side, we made up a bogus little label to put it out on. Stafford North then became a proper label which I either recorded all the tracks for or A&R’d and found tracks for, so it became the outlet for anything I couldn’t use for Altern 8. We started a side label called Stafford South (they were basically the M6 junctions either end of Stafford) and that was the more house side of things and was when the Xen Mantra thing came about.
The new album is a remastered collection of The Nex EP and Poundstretcher EP. Why have you chosen to re-release these tracks now?
We released the tracks digitally after we had released the DJ Nex Unreleased Files to kind of get them all out there but since then people have been asking for them to come out on wax. The Poundstretcher EP had 8 tracks on so the pressing was pretty quiet and it suffered as it made it difficult to play out. Now it’s spread over two twelves so they will be a lot louder and have been mastered brilliantly by Laurie at Curve Pusher.
The Nex EP and Poundstretcher EP’s are a strictly breakbeat affair – is that a reflection of your musical taste circa 92/93?
I was fully into the rave scene from the start and followed it through to around the middle of 1993 when I got more into the US house side of things. I still loved the breaks but slowed down on buying stuff and going out too as my daughter had just been born. 1992 and 1993 were the years that breakbeat-fueled tracks really took over and were the kind of tracks I was buying and listening to a lot. It’s the way the whole scene was going and I wanted to get all my ideas on to wax which was what the whole DJ Nex thing was about.
The new album is the latest in a number of releases with Music Mondays (including your book). How do you find working with Billy Daniel Bunter?
Hes an absolute whirlwind of brilliant ideas, positivity and filthy jokes. I owe him (and Sonya) a lot as they’ve had a lot of faith in me and got me onboard with loads of projects. Getting me to DJ in London at old skool gigs which a lot of other promoters don’t do and to put the book out was just next level. I don’t think I could name anyone with more passion and drive for the scene (not saying that everyone else hasn’t got it, but Bunter is just well out there).
This year marks 30 years in the business. Can we look forward to hearing tracks from the new album being played out on the Man Behind The Mask tour?
When I play out, like every DJ, you have to tailor your sets to where you’re playing, who you play to and obviously change them up if they aren’t going down. So when there is a crowd who I think will appreciate some of the tracks being dropped then they’re having them, haha! It’s mental to think I’ve been doing this for 30 years and there’re promoters putting on old skool nights that weren’t even born when I started making music, but I’m incredibly lucky to still be doing it and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play these tracks out.
What’s next for Mark Archer? Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
This year, as you know, I’m doing a year long tour to celebrate 30 years in the industry [check out the tour dates here] so that’s taking up a lot of time. But I’ll also be having some tracks released on a label from Berlin called a.r.t.less which are more like the stuff I used to do as Nexus 21, as well as doing a lot of Altern 8 live gigs. We’ve got a special one at the Sage in Gateshead where we will be working with a string section just for Activ 8 so that’s going to be a bit different. Beyond that i’ll hopefully be recording some new Trackman material, maybe some new DJ Nex or even Altern 8 material – who knows…
“Mark Archer AKA DJ Nex – The EPs” is released in April and can be pre-ordered from Music Mondays.