Mark Reeder is a musician and record producer from Manchester living in Berlin since 1978.
From an early age, it was evident he had a passion for music and art. He bought his first 7” single Telstar by the Tornados at the age of 4 and his first album Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland at the age of 11.
During the 70s, Britain was gripped in a recession and mass unemployment ensued. The prospects for a school-leaver looked very bleak. For a brief moment, he considered a life in the Royal Air Force, but after acquiring a part-time job in his favourite record shop, he realised this was not to be his vocation.
He initially envisaged a career in advertising-design and after studying graphic art he briefly worked in an Ad-agency, before quitting this profession to work full-time in the small Virgin Records store in Manchester, where he had jobbed since being a student. It was here that Reeder developed his passion for music from different countries and cultures, and in particular Krautrock.
Before moving to Germany in the late 70s, he briefly played in a progressive rock formation called Joe Stalin’s Red Star Radio Band, but at the dawn of the punk era he left, to co-found a new wave punk band The Frantic Elevators together with Neil Moss and Mick Hucknall (Simply Red).
Through his unique position at Virgin Records, he was integral for the fledgling punk scene in Manchester and was involved in presenting new bands such as The Buzzcocks, V2, Joy Division, The Drones, Slaughter and the Dogs to a new and young clientele, because Virgin was the only place in the city where such degenerate music could be bought.
In his quest to obtain obscure Krautrock records, he travelled to Berlin in 1978 to buy some records and never left. Almost immediately upon his arrival in Berlin, he was designated the German representative for his friend’s band Joy Division and a while later, he became the man in Berlin, for their legendary Manchester record label Factory Records.
In 1981, he formed what would later become recognised as one of the first darkwave synth bands Die Unbekannten (The Unknown) and they released two EPs on Berlin’s first independent avant-garde label, Monogam (who initially released singles by Einstuerzende Neubauten, Mania D or P1/E). They performed all over Europe and Reeder became a part of what is known today as the Geniale Dilitantten scene. Die Unbekannten would eventually be considered as one of the Godfathers of Goth, but they have also become known for being the first band ever to make a record featuring a prototype Roland 606 drum computer.
In between, he also managed the newly formed all-girl avant-garde group Malaria! fronted by Gudrun Gut and Bettina Koester he became their live sound engineer too, as well as the soundman for a new punk band from Dusseldorf called Die Toten Hosen (and on a couple of occasions for Einstuerzende Neubauten).
Due to his curiosity for what was on the East side of the Berlin wall, he visited the East part of the city regularly. Having experienced life in Communist East Berlin since the first few days of arriving in the city, he realised the extreme difficulties most young people had of obtaining new or contemporary records from the West. Of course, they could hear music coming from West Berlin radio, but they didn’t always play the records they wanted to hear. He would smuggle cassettes into East Berlin and take visiting musicians over the wall to meet real East Berliners.
Together with his Eastie-Punk friends, he eventually co-organised the first ever secret underground punk concert in an East Berlin Church with Die Toten Hosen in 1983, it was disguised as a Blues Mass.
Reeder had discovered the Church was a silent protest to the communist regime and that they occasionally held such special blues evenings. So, he hi-jacked the idea. Little did the 30 specially invited punks know that evening, what a massive impact this impromptu concert would have on the entire East German punk scene. Once the word got out what had happened, it appeared throughout the German Democratic Republic, that churches were suddenly being requisitioned by young punk bands, all asking to use the Church for gigs.
In 1987, Reeder formed a new project Alien Nation, a purely electronic project, created to explore the newly emerging acid house sound. The underground music scene of Berlin was starting to change. While New Wave Rock had become the established norm, acid house was undoubtedly the new underground.
His contacts to the East Berlin underground punk scene didn’t go unnoticed by the East German authorities either. Unknown to him, he was constantly under the surveillance of the Ministry for State Security (the East German Secret Police) also known as the STASI, who considered his supposed anti-state activities as dangerous and classed him as subversive-dekadent. This lead to him being invited by the East German authorities to produce what would become the last album of communist East Germany – “Torture” by Die Vision in latter months of 1989 for the then communist state-owned record label AMIGA.
After the fall of the Berlin wall and the restructuring of the AMIGA into ZONG, he founded the first East German electronic music label MFS (Masterminded For Success) which he started in December 1990, using the infrastructure and offices of the AMIGA. MFS helped to launch the careers of many, now famous artists and DJs, such as Ellen Allien, Cosmic Baby (Harald Bluechel), Dr Motte, Effective Force (Johnny Klimek), or Mijk van Dijk.
In February 1992, MFS released the world’s first Trance compilation “Tranceformed from Beyond”.
In 1991, Reeder discovered the teenage Paul van Dyk and spent 8 years guiding and paving his way, building up this now, internationally recognised DJ, to superstardom. Reeder initiated, designed and successfully outlined Paul van Dyk’s early career from 1991 until 1999.
In the late 90s, Reeder released remixes by MFS artists Paul van Dyk and Mijk van Dijk of Japanese band Denki Groove. This was the first time SONY music had ever licensed a track to an indie label. He invited Takkyu Ishino to Berlin to perform at the E-Werk during the Loveparade, effectively launching his international career.
In 1999, Reeder created Flesh. A new label for a new, yet provocative idea: Wet&Hard which he had conceived together with Hungarian DJ Corvin Dalek. Their aim was to bring back the sexuality to the sexual ritual of dancing. Reeder produced Corvin’s I am a Dalek album and numerous Flesh singles.
Reeder’s own clandestine musical career has spanned over more than four decades. He has been a participant and behind the scenes influence for many now-famous artists, spread over a wide cross-section of contemporary musical genres. In 2008, he decided to put MFS on ice and returned to making, producing and remixing music.
Meanwhile, he’s composed music for a selection of films and advertisements (in the UK) including the music score for Joerg Buttgereits controversial film “Nekromantik 2” as well as his theatre play “Captain Berlin vs Hitler” (2008) and for his own 2015 documentary film about 80’s West-Berlin music scene “B-Movie (Lust & Sound in West-Berlin) and recently, he wrote and produced a song for the Lithuanian singer Alanas Chosnau for the French cold-war thriller Wolf’s Call (2019).
Reeder is also an established remixer himself and has meanwhile produced numerous remixes for such established artists as New Order, Depeche Mode, The Pet Shop Boys, Yello, John Foxx, Anne Clark, or Die Toten Hosen as well as for a ton of new and lesser-known artists.
In 2008, he made an album of retro-remixes for Blank & Jones (for the album ReOrdered) which also featured his reworking of A Forest with new vocals by Robert Smith of The Cure.
In 2011, he released FivePointOne – an album of 5.1 remixes produced in wrap-around DOLBY surround sound. This album features his remix of John Foxx’s legendary hit Underpass, as well as remixes for Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Anne Clark and Die Toten Hosen.
In 2015, he starred as the main protagonist in the documentary film about his life in cold war Berlin B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin. Made up from original film footage from the era, it’s a film about West-Berlin as seen through Reeder’s eyes and shows his life in the music scene during the 1980s.
The film has been very successful throughout the world and achieved high critical acclaim. It is meanwhile considered to be a culturally valuable piece of German Visual History. New Order loved B-Movie so much, they used scenes from it for their Singularity music video for which Reeder also made a highly acclaimed remix.
Today, he is not only a highly sought-after producer, DJ and remixer, but also as a lecturer or speaker, due to his valuable first-hand experience as a record producer and label manager and his understanding of the Berlin music scene in both East and West Berlin during the 1980s and 90s, continuing up to the present day.
His latest album “Mauerstadt” released in July 2017, features his songwriting, production and collaborations with Manchester legends New Order and The Inspiral Carpets, as well as with The KVB, Maja Pierro, Queen of Hearts, and Ekkoes. For this release, he also invited Taiwanese graphic design team 2 by Wu&Chen 雙好 (Sebastian Wu and Jesse Chen) to create the album cover.
During an extensive two-month B-Movie/ DJ tour of China in 2017, Reeder recorded the album Oracles for the legendary all-girl band from Beijing Hang On The Box, the production mixdown was completed with his studio partner Micha Adam upon his return to Berlin.
While in China, he also discovered an exciting and radical young Chinese band from Chengdu, called STOLEN. Reeder saw STOLEN perform live at a music festival in Chengdu, and he was so impressed, they went into the studio and made a demo together. The reactions to this demo were so positive, that STOLEN decided to release it as an EP in China. In February 2018, STOLEN came to Berlin to record their second album FRAGMENT with Reeder.
After a 10-year hiatus, Reeder decided to reactivate MFS especially to present the new STOLEN album vinyl release. His friend Bernard Sumner heard the album. He immediately loved it and endorsed it on the New Order website. More recently, in June 2019, New Order invited STOLEN to perform as their support act on their upcoming European tour in October 2019.