Updated: Apr 14, 2021
After a brief stint in a new wave punk band with Mick Hucknall — yeah, that Mick Hucknall — and a gig unearthing up-and-coming punk bands for the then-fledging Virgin Records, Reeder’s quest to acquire obscure Krautrock records catapulted him into late 70s Berlin at the tender of 20. He quickly became Factory Records' man in Berlin, started smuggling cassettes across the Wall and almost single-handedly pioneered the GDR’s clandestine punk rock movement.
An avid music tech aficionado Reeder inspired New Order’s increasingly electro tendencies in the early 80s, while pursuing his own escapades with cult heroes Shark Vegas. He mentored — and masterminded the meteoric success of — Paul Van Dyk through the blurry 90s as part of his now-legendary record label MFS. And this side of the century Reeder's continued to refine his reputation as a remixer par excellence, transforming tracks by Depeche Mode, The Pet Shop Boys and Die Toten Hosen.
It goes without saying then that it’s a huge privilege to feature not one, but two(!), of Mark Reeder remixes on Das Wasteland Record’s debut compilation. Here he is talking us through them…
Alanas Chosnau & Shark Vegas - I Can’t Share This Feeling
I Can’t Share This Feeling started out as a Shark Vegas song, which I initially wrote with Alistair Gray back in 1986.
Our original song idea was quickly recorded onto a cassette tape in a practice room in the bowels of Tempelhof Airport The intention was always to record it at a late date in the studio. We also recorded a backing track for another song called 11 March around the same time, although we never wrote any lyrics. It eventually ended up in Cynthia Beatt’s film The Party starring Tilda Swinton.
Unfortunately, due to monetary shortages, the recording studio time never materialised and Alistair eventually returned to Britain and Shark Vegas disbanded.
I always wondered what the song would sound like if it had been properly recorded. But the more I became involved in the dance scene, the less traditional my song structures became and I forgot all about it for years. At some point, it ended up residing in my music archive (basically a box of dusty old tapes).
Fast forward, decades later and while looking for tape demos of my first Berlin band Die Unbekannten, I rediscovered the song. My interest was rekindled even further when the opportunity arose to make an album with leading Lithuanian singer Alanas Chosnau. Finally, here was someone whose voice might actually lend itself to this old song.
Together with my studio partner Micha Adam, we re-crafted the song’s basic structure and added many new elements, including completely different sequencer rhythms and drum sounds. All the while the song maintained an 80s feeling, due to the style of the songwriting. I also wrote some additional lyrics and then sent it to Alanas and asked him if he would like to have a go at singing it.
Initially, I didn’t tell him that it was a real 80s song, I just wanted to share the feeling with him. I thought Alanas gave a magnificent performance.
We released our original version of I can’t Share This Feeling on our album Children of Nature under Alanas Chosnau & Shark Vegas, as I wanted to honour its origins, and we made a special edit of the song for possible video or radio play. It is this special Serious Mix edit that is now released, for the first time, on the Das Wasteland: Berlin Vol 1&2.
STOLEN - Why We Chose To Die In Berlin
I first met STOLEN in Chengdu in 2017, while on a two-month B-Movie tour of China. I had been invited to DJ at the Morning House Festival, deep in the wooded outskirts of the city.
After enduring an all-day compilation of competent Chinese bands, playing a varied selection of sounds ranging from hardcore punk to rock and disco, I was totally mesmerised by STOLEN’S unbridled performance.
I’d been introduced to them upon arrival the night before and spent the next day with them in their practice room as they went through the songs of their forthcoming set.
The band had already sent me a few demos to listen to, so I was at least already aware of them, but neither their practice room performance nor their demos were anything remotely representative of what the band actually sounded like on stage. And neither could prepare me for what I was going to experience in this beautiful live setting.
The 5000-plus people, who had been waiting all day, simply erupted the moment STOLEN came on stage. It was so thrilling. I hadn’t experienced an energy like that for years. I was immediately caught up in it. I was witnessing the dawn of a new 'Sinographic' music movement and STOLEN were spearheading the way.
After their incredibly impressive gig, I had to DJ. I felt totally unworthy and thought this must have been the same kind of deflated feeling that The Who had when they followed Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Once I had finished my set, I sat down with STOLEN for a long chat and the band asked me if I would be interested in working with them. They wanted to make a demo and asked me if I could help. Two days later, we went into a studio in downtown Chengdu. It was a nice-looking place and quite hi-tech with some great equipment, but none of us had any idea how to set it up as there were no engineers or technicians around to help us. Eventually, after spending an hour looking for the power-on switch, we managed to record the vocals for one song, but then I decided it might be best to save time and money and just go to the keyboardist’s place and work on the demos there in his virtual studio. That proved to be a far better idea and the atmosphere was much more relaxed. We worked quickly and effectively and the results were more than satisfactory. I even thought that is quite a good demo and I wished them good luck in getting a label deal.
Two months after returning to Berlin, the band asked me if I could master the songs. So, together with my studio partner Micha Adam we tweaked the songs to make them sound dynamic and presentable. The band immediately released the songs on an EP.
Shortly after that, I was told that these demos had received 9.8 on the Chinese rating system. That is a national rating system that covers everything, from food, music, fashion or cinema, even down to items of everyday life, as well as personal performance. Its basic aim is to encourage people to be good and hard-working citizens. I was told, no one ever gets 10, so for our demo to attain 9.8 on their Richter scale was quite an achievement for a relatively unknown band, indeed.
And then in early 2018, STOLEN came to Berlin, and we recorded their album Fragment. I decided to remix and rework all the original demo songs for their album, as I didn’t want people to feel that they were buying the exact same old versions of their songs. The mix you hear on Das Wasteland Berlin: Vol 1&2, is a previously unreleased and specially edited version of my original demo mix.
Das Wasteland Berlin: Vol 1&2 is Das Wasteland Record's debut release. Pre-order the limited edition double vinyl here