The saturated music production industry overflows with artists striving to make their mark in an incredibly competitive business and the dance music genre is particularly demonstrative of this competition. Yet every now and then a superstar is born that creates such a momentous ripple that the entire industry takes notice. The team of Mark and Stuart Knight and their label Toolroom Records is an exemplary model of such success.
In 2003, Deejay and producer Mark Knight along with his brother Stuart Knight started the Toolroom Records label in Maidstone, England in order for Mark to produce his own music. However, at that time, Knight observed that dance music was lacking originality. The steady stream of dance and house music rolled off the production line with facsimile and non-distinct sounds, everyone hoping to capitalize on the craze and make as much money as possible. The success of Toolroom Records exploded and ignited a passion in Knight that he used to target his incredible skills on encouraging new music talent while simultaneously devoting his energy on launching the label and providing a career avenue for rising stars.
Formidable Balancing Act
As much more than a Deejay, Knight and the Toolroom business expanded into events and broadcasts on television and radio. In 2006, Mark launched Toolroom Knights at Ministry of Sound as a way to breathe new life into the club scene. The label hit the one hundred release milestone in 2009 due to the success of Faithless and the sale of three of Beatport’s ‘Best Sellers List’ who recognized Toolroom as its “best-selling label of all time” (Rodriguez. 2014). In 2011, Beatport also recognized Knight’s remix of Florence & the Machine’s “You Got the Love as one of the digital music retailer’s best-selling tracks of all time” (Ibid).
Nevertheless, committed to his fans, Mark began hosting the half-hour program, Toolroom Radio on Sky TV, a dance culture celebration, which is followed by more than sixteen million listeners every week. In 2013, Toolroom applauded their ten year success with a feature length documentary ‘Ten Years of Dance Music’, and the one hundred track album ‘Toolroom Ten’ mixed by Mark. In keeping up with market trends, they provide merchandise, downloads, ringtones, and exclusive tracks and mixes to fans via their website.
This year, Knight started Toolroom Live, a series of albums created to display the labels newest material and includes featured artists Green Velvet, Hot Since 82, Maceo Plex, and Harvey McKay. Mark wanted to connect his label with the public, saying: “It’s not only about giving our artists the chance to play fantastic shows, but a real public portrayal of what we are about as a brand and a business. It’s more than just records to DJs” (Knight quoted in Rodriguez).
Breeding Ground for Success
Over the years, Mark Knight’s original success as a DJ and music producer has been accompanied with an innate ability to develop some of the best professional talents and to find an avenue and forum for new artists and DJs, which has catapulted his label to international fame and been instrumental and fundamental to the continued success of dance and house music.
Part of the success reflects Toolroom Records passionate attention to quality dance and house music, and an unprecedented commitment to precision detail in a genre that swings like the proverbial pendulum. Somewhere in the middle of the furthest extremes lies an abundance of sound that is neither mainstream nor underground. Wright and his Toolroom label maintain an atypical inclusion that connects the extremes with the newest generation and the dedication of its predecessors.
Moreover, Knight’s uncanny ability to find this perfect balance and his phenomenal reputation as a producer has put him and his label at the top of international dance charts with releases like ‘Man With The Red Face’, ‘Good Times’, ‘Baditude’, ‘Just Trippin’, ‘At Night’, ‘Roadkill’, and ‘Devil Walking’. The worldwide success of Toolroom Knights has landed him top bids at Space Miami, Cocoon Frankfurt, and Pacha New York as well as creating an enormous demand for festival hosting globally.
Diversify with Fresh Blood
Successful music production relies on affiliations and this year Wright has added some new blood to the Toolroom production team. Weiss, a producer, mixer, and Deejay from London, England, who has released various hits through Toolroom such as Ibiza Volume 2, was the first recruit. Weiss claims that his eclectic taste in house music is in his blood, but his quality sound landed him on Beatport’s top ten charts with ‘My Sister’. A second Deejay, Adrian Hour, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina has also joined the crew. Hour has been dedicated to electronic music since he was 18, and last year released ‘Speaking Groove EP’, his first single, but for him music allows him to let go of his imagination and open windows into his sub consciousness.
New Territory for 2014
The team, calling themselves the three pillars of house, underground, and techno versatility, wants to take the label into unchartered territory in 2014 and influence their music for the upcoming ten years. After all their recognition including a Grammy Nomination for their work on the multi-platinum album ‘The-End’ by the Black Eyed Peas, Beatport’s biggest selling record, a Beatport award for the single ‘Good Times’, and a nomination by the International Dance Music Awards for Toolroom Knights radio show, it is incredulous to think that Toolroom Records could get any better.