Mark Blair talks AVA Festival, Genesis and getting support from YouTube channels

Belfast DJ and producer Mark Blair found his feet as a resident at some of the cities most boutique parties, now several years on and still aged just 23 he has seen hundreds of thousands of plays on his own productions, and has secured sets at some of Ireland’s top festivals, including Life and AVA.

We sat down with Mark to discuss his intentions for the coming summer as well as what he has in store for his own Genesis blog and party brand and what advice he might give to someone in a similar position to him a few years ago, read on for the full interview.

It’s great to chat with you Mark, how are things at the moment?

Hey Kyle! Great to chat with you too. Things at the moment are great. I’ve been able to keep extremely busy with DJ’ing & producing as well as focusing on promoting some great parties for OCD & Genesis. Unfortunately, I had to end my weekly Friday night residency for OCD at The Art Department as I was getting a lot of international gigs for Friday’s over summer! Which I suppose is bittersweet, you never realise how tough DJ’ing can actually be until you hold down a weekly residency. Playing to the same sort of crowd week in week out without becoming predictable was extremely difficult but it really helped me progress as a DJ.

I have to give a big shout out to OCD for giving me the opportunity and a big thanks to all the regulars who came down to see me play! I still have a few VERY special one off gigs planned with OCD too so keep your eyes peeled.

Excited for summer?

To say I am excited would be an understatement! I have so many exciting gigs planned for over summer which I can’t wait for, as well as a few cool new releases including an EP on Justin Jay’s label. At the moment my workflow is extremely slow as I am so busy with my day job as a digital marketer. It usually takes me around a week or two to finish a track, and then I’ll end up taking a three or four week break from making music. I’m hoping that over summer I can start to relax from the responsibilities of my day job and really start to focus more on producing.

You have some big gigs coming up, including Life Festival and AVA Festival in the next few weeks, got anything special in store for your fans?

Two very special gigs for me, especially AVA as it is one of the biggest dates in the calendar for electronic music in my hometown. I’ll definitely be preparing for my sets weeks in advance and be including loads of private edits and plenty of my own unreleased material!

And do you plan to catch anyone else in particular at those festivals?

The amount of local talent coming out of Northern Ireland & Ireland is unbelievable. I have definitely noticed a massive surge over the past 2-3 years with a lot of locals gaining crazy amount of support online and releasing some absolutely amazing tracks. So I’m very excited to see the likes of Jordon, Boots & Kats, Adamant, Bobby Analog, George Feely, Kark Guest & a few others.

When it comes to international acts I plan to see Hunee play again at AVA as his set at Twitch Belfast was amazing! I’m also super excited to see Armand Van Helden’s set at Life Festival, he’s been a huge inspiration to me when it comes to sampling tracks.

Your Genesis brand has been throwing parties and releasing tracks and DJ mixes for a good while now, do you have a plan for the long term or is your focus on your own career right now?

Throwing parties under the Genesis brand stemmed from when I first began DJ’ing. I wasn’t able to get many gigs, as I had only just started out, so I threw my own parties and put myself as the headliner. It’s slowly developed over time and now I’m using it as platform to support bedroom producers & DJ’s from all over the world. At the moment it is definitely more of a side project but we still have lots of sweet parties planned for over the summer as well as some lovely music releases and mixes!

And you’re now on a booking agency, how did you know it was a good fit?

I messaged Sam to book one of the acts on his roster and we ended up talking and he signed me up! I’d already known Sam through his various projects in Ireland like Techno & Cans and Higher Vision Festival and I’d already been speaking to some of the DJ’s on his roster who recommended him so I was buzzing when he asked me. He’s a great contact to have representing you.

A big part of your success so far has been down to YouTube channels pushing your music, what advice would you give to someone new to producing that might want to get on those channels?

Aw, I don’t even know where to start with this question! Without these channels pushing mine and all the bedroom producer’s music, the scene really would be lacking the diversity that it has today. Unfortunately, a lot of the time big labels will only sign tracks from DJ’s with large followings and it can be extremely tough for people starting out to get their tracks out to large audiences.

These YouTube channels allow for people like me to push my music to over 100,000+ people. I definitely need to give a special shout out to Gregoire from Houseum who has supported me from day one and uploaded the majority of my tracks! Also shout out to Ian from Definite Party Material & Luis from LR4991 and of course Moskalus.

My advice to anyone trying to get featured on these channels is to send well worded and sincere emails to the demo emails found on their channels. Don’t be pushy and don’t be disheartened if they don’t reply. When I first messaged Houseum I offered to make him some videos free of charge which helped me build up a relationship with him, which makes it much easier to go to him with demo’s! So, if you have any special skills now is the time to flaunt them.

Is there anything else you want to mention before we go?

While we are on the topic of beginner producers I’d just like to say that I’m always happy to help people or give feedback on tracks etc. In my first few years of producing I made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of stupid questions that I would be too scared to ask the more experienced producers and looking back now I could have saved a lot of time and hassle if I had of just asked. So, feel free to give me a message on my artist page. I assure you I will get back to you (eventually)! Cheers.

Stream ‘Mark Blair – This Is Acid, Man’ below.