I actually produced the rough instrumental part of Crystal around 1997. It was the first track I had ever properly finished. At that time, I had still less idea about music production, just my experiences from dj-ing and about how club music should sound. Making this track, I was looking for an atmosphere I wanted it to sound like “being lost in an endless space” kind of melancholic, infinite, desire.
I was dj-ing a lot around that time and organizing parties in southern Czech Republic together with DJ Michael Burian. He introduced me to dj-ing with turntables. To expand our peripheries, we started to promote our own events. We invited interesting djs and artists, and discovered a new dimension of dj-ing and everything to do with party/event promotion. My music was influenced at that time deeply by berlin’s club sound, especially the records from MFS.
MFS, (Masterminded For Success) was founded by Mark Reeder in 1990, who used the infrastructure of the former East German state run record label AMIGA which was part of “Deutsche Schallplatten” to build his own dream of an independent label project in the heart of Europe. His real wish for the label was to support young, Eastern European artists and provide them with a platform.
No one less as an Eastie kid, than Paul van Dyk grew up from his hands. Mark discovered Paul and supported him and released his first hit “for an angel” (1994) as part of the 45RPM album. He also released tracks by Cosmic Baby, Neutron9000, Marco Zafferano or Mijk van Dijk, Ellen Allien or Johnny Klimek, just to name the few who created music with Mark at that time. Nice Trance and Techno projects. We invited some of them to play at our parties, and learnt a lot of simple but great things from them. Finally, we became inspired enough to take that crucial step forward in the direction of producing and making our own music too.
I sent my tracks to Mark and the sound caught his attention. He invited me later to work with him, after I moved to Berlin in 1998. It was a time of great upheaval for the label. Paul van Dyk had just left MFS. The world stage tempted him away, as he wanted to be a bigger, brighter star.
Mark was interested in starting something fresh and new. I started to put my own creativeness into Mark’s MFS project, as best I could. Mark took me under his wing and guided me along a path by introducing me to many things, he gave me ideas, inspiration and nurtured my own sound and style and we saw things eye to eye on many levels. We had lots of fun producing our ideas as singles, albums, tracks, dj compilations or just creating art and artworks. We organized bookings, events and played all over the world. It was full on, full time, all the time and more…
One day, a good friend of Mark’s from early Joy Division days, Bernard Sumner (the singer of New Order) sent him his recorded vocals for a track, which Mark called Crystal. Bernard wanted to support to his old friend during this difficult time and help him after van Dyk had jumped ship.
Mark gave me the fantastic vocal parts and once home, just for fun, I loaded them over the memories track. I was totally perplexed when I heard the results. It was like a big kick up the ass, they sounded just perfect for each other. I immediately played it to mark and he agreed. We couldn’t believe it. They matched as if made for each other.
With Marks “original” English, we tweaked the track and edited the vocals to fit perfectly over it and we finished it for a demo (this is the version you can now hear on Collaborator). I think it was a song perfect for a sunny, late summers day.
Mark sent the mix to Bernard and he loved it. Unfortunately, Bernard sent it to the New Order A&R at London Records – Pete Tong. A few days later Mark got a desperate call from Tong, who told him, “you can’t release this track! it is the best New Order track since Blue Monday!” and he begged Mark to persuade Bernard to record it as a New Order track instead. The only problem there though, was that New Order hadn’t spoken to each other for three years and had virtually stopped working together and had all but broken up. Difficult? Mark replied that Bernard had actually recorded the song for him and had given it to him as a gift. But Tong whined and moaned and eventually, Mark spoke to Bernard and New Order were tentatively reformed. Mark even suggested that Mark Stent should produce the New Order version too. But then there was another problem, what to do with the MFS mixes? Mark reluctantly agreed with Tong to wait until the New Order releases were out before releasing it on MFS, but Tong was determined that my first demo shouldn’t be released at all and pleaded for us not to release it, as he described it, it was “a shabby little demo and the song deserves better”. Mark kindly complied. So it was never finished and never released.