X Marks the Spot: Mark Holmes on 10 Years of The Mod Club, Making Music, and the Future of the Industry

DJ MRK © Gesilayefa Azorbo

Mark Holmes is having a busy week. Scratch that, he’s having a busy year. The frontman for Canadian Hall of Fame inductees Platinum Blonde is also a highly respected DJ (under the moniker DJ MRK) as well as co-owner of one of Toronto’s premiere live music venues, The Virgin Mobile Mod Club.

This year, his separate passions collided as August marked the return of Platinum Blonde with a brand new album release, Now & Never, and on November 17 the Mod Club celebrates its decade-long existence with a party to top all parties for its 10th anniversary celebration.

Known as it is for its extravagant parties (in the first three years after it opened, the Saturday night parties grew so big that the same party had to be held at Revival as well as the Mod Club), as well as celebrity guest appearances from Noel Gallagher to Kanye West, and yearly anniversary parties which are themselves the stuff of legend, the Mod Club’s tenth anniversary party is expected to be nothing less than spectacular.

The event page on the website promises a champagne reception at 9.30pm and performances by Chick-a-boom dancers and aerial artists. It also boasts a line-up that includes Holmes himself behind the turntable, as well as Tigerblood, Nightbox, Jelo, Me&John, and electric violin virtuoso Dr Draw, and additional surprise guest appearances.

In light of this milestone, I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Mark recently for Cadencemag.com, in which he shares insights from over two decades in the music industry, and reveals a life lived to the fullness of every moment.

 This year must be pretty special to you. You’ve got the brand new Platinum Blonde album that came out in August, Now & Never, and now you’re about to celebrate 10 years of The Mod Club. How does it feel?

“Timing” would be an understatement! It seems that everything bloomed at the same time. I feel very fortunate that at this moment in my life I have so much support from fans, followers, and friends.

When you first began doing the Mod Club parties ten years ago, did you imagine that it would spin into this entertainment juggernaut, with Mod Club nights held in 8 cities across Canada?

12 years ago we started the MOD parties. It’s the Mod Club venue that turns ten. Well, the thought of expanding the brand was always in my mind but it was amazing to see all those cities embracing our musical style. Everyone has dreams but it’s a life-changer when they become reality.

It seems just about every music star of note has come through at some point or another, from the Killers to Kanye West. How helpful has it been to already be an established force in the music industry?

I always felt that Toronto needed a place where comfort, sound, lighting, sight lines, and attention to detail was the main goal. I wanted The Mod Club to be known for being a great sounding and visually stunning venue that reverberated around the world and holds its own as a entertainment landmark. Because of my past in the music industry I saw the demand and was able to fill it. The concert promoters and agencies that we were able to get on board made the trip complete. So yes, it was very helpful to have been a familiar face in the music industry.

The Mod Club Saturday parties, and to a greater extent, the yearly anniversary parties are already legendary. What do you have in the works for this anniversary party to make even more memorable?

Well, we are packing a lot of entertainment into the hours and stretching the boundaries of every minute. We will also be re-launching Saturdays with this entertainment template and connecting with our past as well as being the beacons of the future music.

You’re an artist who has successfully made his mark in the music scene in two separate and distinct ways, as a rock n roll leading man, and as a DJ in the indie-techno-electronic scene. How did your interests diverge like that, or were you always interested in other genres?

Well, right from the start of my musical career I’ve been dabbling in electronic music and mixing it into indie-style rock. These two styles seem to fit well and came full circle when we started the radio show in 2003. The scene just exploded and we were lucky to be the proud parents.

Over the past ten years the music industry has undergone tremendous changes structurally, especially with the way people consume music and create it to – “YouTube stars” is a very 21st century concept. For you, having transcended genres from 80s rock stardom to danceclub DJ and superstar producer, what’s your take on the evolving face of music?

Well, the main change has been in the type of music fans. It seems that the song is more important than where it came from. Music is the star now, which leaves record labels and radio stations limited or no control. The control comes from one’s internet provider. LOL!

Now time to play favourites. What’s your favourite memory from the past 10 years of Mod Club history?

Having MUSE play our first concert and really putting us on the map. But my truly favourite moments are watching all those people coming through the door on Saturdays and choosing us for that very important day of the week.

Favourite artist of 2012?

M83

Favourite thing to do when not working?

Being that work for me refers to producing, writing, performing, listening, and remixing music I’m not sure I’m ever not working. I love to watch the football (English Premier League). Watching my team stops me from feeling too homesick.

Favourite night club or music spot in Toronto – aside from the Mod Club!

Barchef. I love the creative way they make drinks and the atmosphere is calming.

Lastly, what are your plans for the future?

More of the same, only more.

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