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The Drifter: Passion For The Beat

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The Drifter, otherwise known as Mark Flynn, is an Irish DJ, producer, and singer raised in a countryside town near Dublin. Growing up, Flynn would dabble in choirs and rock bands alongside close friend Mano Le Tough, before going to university and being exposed to dance music. Today The Drifter is a fond purveyor of the melodic and mesmerising breed of electronic music, and is now based in the thriving city of Berlin where he runs the Maeve label alongside co-founders Mano Le Tough and Baikal – a label two years old that has already hosted names such as Matthew Dekay, Dixon and Ripperton.

As well as Maeve, his own productions have appeared on imprints such as Tigers On A Leash, Lossless, and Permanent Vacation, and his voice has even been lent to the likes of Jacob Korn, Slow Hands, Erdbeerschnitzel, Good Guy Mikesh & Filburt, and Baikal. Now, as we approach the end of 2014 The Drifter’s momentum shows no symptoms of faltering, with a string of remixes as well as a touring schedule boasting London, Berlin, Paris, Lyon, Bucharest, Zurich, and Milan.

Ahead of his appearance at We Concur x Avant Garde this Saturday at Corsica Studios, we caught up with The Drifter to discuss singing, running a label and moving to Berlin.

Where are you at the moment?

I’m in my family home in Ireland, and have been here for about three weeks now. It’s been really nice being home because I haven’t spent this much time at home in years. I would normally get home 4 or 5 times a year, but I have a bit more free time at the moment. A few of my friends were getting married, as well as the Maeve party in Dublin, so it worked out nicely to stay home for a few weeks.

Where is home exactly?

My hometown is just south of Dublin city, near the coast as well as the countryside.

Your biography says that your upbringing saw you dabble in various musical pursuits. Can you elaborate on these?

When I was growing up I was the only one out of four boys who was musical, so my mum pushed me a little towards that sort of thing. A lot of drama, singing, choirs, and stuff you like that. Then I got into the guitar and played in bands, at this point getting into rock n roll and folk as a teenager. Electronic music then came a bit later. Even though I was exposed to it growing up hearing the likes of The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, I got more into it at university when I was going to clubs where I became exposed to the atmosphere. A night started in Dublin that got me into DJing called Backlash where they played everything from rock n roll, electro clash, and DFA sort of stuff. That was the gateway into dance music.

So DJing came before producing?

Yeah, although when I was a teenager I was writing songs on the guitar and things like that therefore I had already been musically creative. However when I was going out and listening to DJs in clubs I found myself really getting into the DJing, which after a while led to me really wanting to make music. I didn’t really start producing until I moved to Berlin though.

When did you move to Berlin? And how does it compare to Ireland?

I moved to Berlin 5 or 6 years ago. It’s very different. Mano [Le Tough] moved a year or two before I did and I would always go over and visit. At the time it felt like a play land where everything was happening with so many different clubs and parties where so many quality DJs would play regularly. Then after a year of visiting I wrapped up my job in Ireland and made the decision to move to Berlin to really concentrate on my music.

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You’ve sung on a lot of tracks for some pretty big names such as Jacob Korn, Slow Hands, Erdbeerschnitzel, Good Guy Mikesh & Filburt, and Baikal. When did you first start lending your voice to producers?

The first time I sang on a record was Erdbeerschnitzel. He asked me to sing on a track and after that it snowballed a bit, and more people asked me to sing on their tracks. We met a lot of people through Passion Beat, a night Mano and I were running in Berlin. Every month we had a different guest come play with us, and we met a lot of people that way. Then when I released my first record I sang on a couple of tracks on that. I’ve not sang for a while now, but I want to do it again in the future. I’ve been focusing more on the production side of things.

Your label Maeve has been around for a few years now. Can you tell us more about how it came to life in the first place? And what is the ethos behind it?

We started it in 2012. We had a little Hiatus after the first record, but after that it’s been moving along steadily. Mano and I had always discussed starting a label together, and Mark [Baikal] who is one of our best buddies had a lot of music that was amazing but he wasn’t releasing anything. We said this stuff had to be released, so spoke to him and said we wanted to start a label together and put out his music first. That’s how it all started, and it’s come from there.

It was started by the three of us and was first and foremost for our own music, in particular dancefloor tracks. Then we met other people and opportunities emerged, such as with the ‘Why Don’t Ya?’ (Ripperton Remix), its Dixon edit, and the Matthew Dekay release. It grew organically, and more people have come on-board and done stuff for us alongside our own stuff.

Given that you, Mano Le Tough and Baikal founded the label, were also running Passion Beat and have known each other for a very long time – can you shed some light on your history?

Mano and I are from the same town and we grew up together. We were in the same schools and became good friends during high school, and were always into music together – even playing in bands together as teenagers. We’ve been good buddies ever since our childhood days, and have always wanted to do music together. It’s great that we still are!

We met Baikal in Berlin through a mutual friend of ours, another Irish guy called Chymera. Baikal moved over from the Netherlands about a year after I moved over and we immediately became good friends.

You have also released on more than one occasion on Permanent Vacation. Can you tell us more about your relationship with them?

We first met Benji [Benjamin Fröhlich] when he came to one of our Passion Beat parties in Berlin. I later sent him some music that he liked and we’ve been great friends ever since. I did my first EP with them, followed by a couple more tracks, and then myself and Benji worked on the ‘Waterville EP’ that came out earlier this summer. I should be doing some more stuff with them in the future too.

Speaking of the future, is there anything else you would like to mention before we finish? Is there anything with Maeve or your own productions in the pipeline?

Yeah, I’ve finished a couple of remixes that will be out either at the end of this year or the start of next year. I’ll also be involved on the next Maeve release by providing a remix, otherwise I plan to bring out some more originals next year.

London based? Then catch The Drifter alongside Matthias Meyer, Baikal and Matthew Dekay Saturday October 4th at Corsica Studios for We Concur X Avantgarde. Tickets are available here. Living elsewhere? Then fear not DT has got your back with an exclusive mix from The Drifter which you can check out below.

 Words: Will Lawes

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