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..:: StarinkWorld - Interview with Marc Hartman ::..

Marc Hartman Marc Hartman is a Dutch producer, remixer, sound engineer and songwriter.

In the 80s and 90s he worked for several Dutch studios and was hired for many productions.

In 1990 he was hired from "Arcade" for the "Future Mix" - a medley in the vein of "The Intergalactic Cruise".

In July 2019 StarinkWorld prepared an e-mail interview with Marc Hartman. The interview was conducted in English by Andreas Heinz.

StarinkWorld: As child/teenager you started playing the drums and you also played in several bands the drums. Do you still play the drums today or did you change your direction completely into synthesizers?

Marc Hartman: I was totally captivated by drums, but being lefthanded often put me in a difficult position. We mostly played at festivals and there the drum kit was built up for time saving. But in my case it still had to be changed from right-handed to left-handed. And playing at home at the drums without anybody else wasn't that satisfying after all.

StarinkWorld: So you stopped playing the drums and became hooked on synthesizers?

Marc Hartman: In the meantime my interest was aroused by "The Ghost in the Machine" - the synthesizer! Through a bizarre exchange: my pro skateboard for a Korg Mono MS-20 synth.

The only thing was - how do you get any sound out of it? There were no presets and if you don't know anything about creating synthesizer sounds and for example you don't know what to do with that patchcable, it’s gonna be very frustrating. It's about time to actually read some manuals, study and a lot of patience. Over the years it finally worked out well and it soon became clear that the electronics such as synths, drum computers and sequencers were my future.

StarinkWorld: In the 80s you worked for the Future Sound Studios in Utrecht (the Netherlands). Can you recall in what kind of productions you were involved there?

Marc Hartman: My first production was a space disco record named "Android" with "Skydancer". Italo synthesizer disco was very popular in these days and the record released on Streetheat Records which were very big in distribution in Germany especially in Euro/Italo Records. So with my first sampler the (12 Bits) Akai S-612, Korg Poly 800 and Drumtraks from Sequential Circuits I was ready to record and mix my first production in a real multitrack recordingstudio. The recording and mixing took us two days, I did all the programming of the sequences (in stepmode) at home with the Yamaha QX 21. A 3 track sequencer without any possibility to save your songs or create backups. Also, once you made a mistake with the programming you had to start all over again. The only possibility to store your data was by tapestream for the synthesizer Korg Poly 800. Lucky me, most of all the streams worked except for the stream of the homemade bass sequencer sounds of my Korg Poly 800... but I was 24/7 into the synth.. I did the sound programming again and after a short delay the sounds were back.

It was nice working with the engineer of Future Sound Studio, Rene van Verseveld and after a couple of months I did the follow up for "Skydancer" named "Aliens" also in Future Sound and soon after that we joint forces on all kinds of records like Miker G and DJ Sven, Franklin Brown, Nasty Chat, Richenel etc. and when I had to do a remix from the multitracks I also went to Future Sound.

I remember I was impressed by the Fostex B-16 (a 16 track 1 inch taperecorder) build in a console complete with external meterbridge and remote transport. And the 24 track inline StudioMaster mixconsole. Nice detail is that one year later I bought both, the Fostex and the Studiomaster from Future Sound Studio. It became serious - business people started to call to book the studio, but I was very busy with my own productions and remixes at that time, so I had to turn down this kind of jobs.

StarinkWorld: In 1990 you were involved in the production of the "Future Mix", a medley in the vein of the "Intergalactic Cruise". Can you remember how you were contacted by Arcade?

Marc Hartman: Some day Svenno Koemans from Arcade called me if I was interested in making a remix/medley of "Synthesizer Greatest". I knew Svenno for a long time since he was working at Music Staffhorst, the recordstore. He remembered that I was into synthesizer music and doing a lot of remixes . At first I was not very happy with the idea… I knew all of Ed Starink's "Synthesizer Greatest" and I was impressed how close his versions came to the original and sometimes even better. The problem for me was: there were no 12-inch versions with mixbreaks, but all single versions or album versions without mixbreaks… so how do mix two tracks, full of instruments from the beginning to the end? When I told Svenno about this problem he said: "You will not have that problem - we have the 24-track multitracks." Smile!

StarinkWorld: Did you work on site directly with Ed Starink on this project?

Marc Hartman: Ed would come by in the studio but unfortunately he cancelled his visit because he was too busy. Arcade did sent a copy of the final mix by courier so that he could hear the mix and give any comments and feedback. But actually he already gave his approval after playing the mix for the first time.

StarinkWorld: So, you worked "remotely" on the medley. How did this work out?

Marc Hartman: Ed had a very special and smart way of recording. He recorded all tracks including the effects on the parts in a way that when you play the tapes in any studio in the world with all the faders and EQ’s to zero. You heard the mix as they appear on the "Synthesizer Greatest" CD's. We only muted the drums and replaced them by an additional rhythm track that played during the whole mix. So even when were using various tracks it was all tied together because of that basic drumtrack.

StarinkWorld: "The Future Mix" was released as single, maxi-single and maxi-CD, but not on one of the albums. Were you ever told why Arcade decided to not put it on one of the compilations?

Marc Hartman: Just as it often went with assignments for record companies you don't know when and how it's gonna be released. During the recordings and mix the telephone is ringing like crazy and then you will not hear from them nothing until the release of the production.

StarinkWorld: Besides the medley there is also a composition from you on this release: Future Theme, a very nice tune by the way. It's not a cover version, but an original track - sort of odd for "Synthesizer Greatest". Can you tell us something about it, for example where did you record it and which equipment was used?

Marc Hartman: I was very curious because there was also a track produced and composed by me on the CD and it was my first non-dance production. At that time, a remixer often had the option of having his own track as bonustrack on the release. "Future Theme" was my bonustrack and was one of the first tracks I made at home on the Fostex B-16 and mixed at the Studiomaster. It was meant for my first synthesizer album that was planned.

StarinkWorld: Afterwards you were hired by a different record company to create cover versions in the vein of "Synthesizer Greatest". May you tell us how it came to this production and how you approached the production?

Marc Hartman: Not long after I did the "Future Mix" I was approached by Martin Brouwers from Master Records based in Roermond with the question if I could make a sort of "Synthesizer Greatest" with the difference that it contained also film themes and Top 40 popsongs.

This was the first time that I had to do everything myself, without the help of a musician on keyboard who sorted out all parts in all the tracks. Because of these circumstances I actually started to play much better and I play all the parts on my production myself since that moment.

StarinkWorld: Were your cover versions influenced somehow by the ones of Ed Starink or was it your goal to stay close to the original?

Marc Hartman: I used Ed's CD's as a reference a lot during this project. His versions sounded so much better than some of the originals.

StarinkWorld: After leaving the Future Sound Studios you worked for the reknowned Wisseloord Studio in Hilversum. Can you tell something about your time at Wisseloord Studio?

Marc Hartman: Since the possibilities became more and more extensive in my own studio, I ended up less and less in Future Sound Studio. I got a lot of work because of the 16 track recording facility.

It regularly happened that the recording was done at my place and than we transferred the 16 track tape at Wisseloord studios to 24 track for the mix and sometimes some overdubs.

Wisseloord became my second home and I always had a nice talk with Bart Sloothaak who was the studio manager of Wisseloord. I remember once when I was talking to Bart - he told me he was looking for a mastering engineer for digital mastering on Sonic Solutions but also to do mastering at the good old Sony PCM 1630 with U-Matic machines. I told him that I was looking for a new challenge. He asked if I was interested and I said, well here I am! So I spended lots, lots, lots of time to learn to work with Apple Macintosh , everyone (including me) was still doing his thing on the Atari 1040 ST computer. So I was entering a whole new world. Bart booked a 2 day Apple Macintosh training for me to start with.

Once used to the Mac I started working with the mastering program Sonic Solutions and I learned a lot about how to use EQ and the first Plugins and all kinds of processing.

It all started with mastering but after a while I also did some AV synchronisation engineering and worked on a couple of projects as assistant engineer in the recording studios Wisseloord was my homebase for 7 years, learned a lot about recording, mixing and mastering and actually knew for the first time what I was doing *haha*. Due to private circumstances, I ended my work in Wisseloord Studios and short after that I said goodbye to the music world.

StarinkWorld: Nowadays you work in your own "Neverland Studio" mainly on electronic and chillout music. What happened after your "goodbye" to the music?

Marc Hartman: Years later I spoke with Frits van Swoll who gave my my first remix job, the new mixes of the first two singles of the Italian Disco project named "Koto" in the beginning of my career in 1985.

Frits was A&R manager for the succesful dance label "High Fashion Music" in these days. After he retired, Frits started his own label with the focus on chillout music and started his famous compilation "Ibiza Beats", a double CD. I liked that kind of music right away, but was not able to create it myself.

I sold my studio gear when I decided to quit the music industry, so I had to start allover again.

During the making of my "wanna have" list , a list with studio equipment needed to make a new start. I was still looking for hardware. Looking for all the hardware or similar I once had in my studio, people strongly adviced me to invest in softsynths (VST) and recording/mix software and a solid computer to run the software. That's what I did, I remember in the beginning I missed that vintage studio feeling, all the flashing LED's even the noise from some of the outboard gear.

I was staring at 2 screens and 2 speakers. But once used to it, I came to the conclusion "The Sky Is The Limit" - there is a lot of vintage gear available as VST plug-in software. All the things you wanted to do all these years, but couldn't because it was too much at once and you only had one or two pair of hands and not enough tools . Things only possible on mixdesks with automation software and only if you knew the desk and software so well after working for years on the desk. But now almost everything is possible, you wanna have the famous reverb from the Abby Road Studios, the one with in the sellar a real room with huge plates in it? I bought the WAVES collection, a bundle of Vintage Outboard Gear and the Abby Road Reverb is only one push on the button or one mouseklick away. I bought the hardware I needed to do my productions from scratch until DDP Master.

When I was fully operational, I started to do remixes again, too. I spoke to DJ Sven, a good friend and co-producer for many years. Sven was doing the production for the famous radioshow "Somertijd" with Rob van Someren for Radio Veronica and every Saturday night he did a 3 hour radio show with only dance classics, the show was named "Veronica's Club Classics".

He asked me if I was interested to do a weekly mix of a dance classic. Since I was making new modern versions with the sound of today of these classics I suggested the name "APK Mix". Explaining that the old record needs some adjustments just like a car needs the adjustments after some years to get the quality mark "APK gekeurd" (note from the editor: APK stands for "algemene periodieke keuring" and that's the Dutch public vehicle inspection). I was adjusting and pimping old records to get the APK Mix quality mark. We started at Veronica but since August 2015 the show is on Radio 10 with a new name Sven's Classix. Different name, same concept.

StarinkWorld: What music do you like to listen to personally, not professionally?

Marc Hartman: I always like dance music, but also pop, rock, soul music. Through the years I always stayed loyal to the band "Queen" - yes, you can say I am a fan.

StarinkWorld: Which hobbies do you have besides music?

Marc Hartman: My hobby is troubleshooting/helpdesk, when a friend or family is having problems with the computer. And another hobby is Netflix and Flixtor. And that's what I am going to do right now.

StarinkWorld: Thank you very much for the interview, Marc.

Marc Hartman: It was a pleasure to do this interview, a lot of information was parked and forgotten. So, I defragmented my own internal harddisk *haha*.

The photo is used with courtesy of Marc Hartman himself.
We would like to thank Marc for his kind cooperation.

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