The story of MFS

Yesterday I received a message on from a user named Hettoblaster complimenting me on the Heartcore mix, and pointing me towards Mark Reeder’s Myspace page. Mark Reeder, for those who don’t know (a group that included me until yesterday evening!), is an Englishman who moved to Berlin back in the 1970’s and went on to become one of the key figures in the development of trance music, establishing the MFS (“Masterminded For Success”) label back in 1991. Through MFS, Mark launched the careers of people like Cosmic Baby and Paul van Dyk, who was later to become one of the biggest dj’s in the world, as well as putting out releases by producers such as Humate, Marco Zaffarano, and Mijk van Dijk.

Anyways, on his MySpace page, Mark has written a very long and interesting piece about his experiences in the Berlin music scene from the 1970’s through to today, which has a lot of fascinating detail about the latter part of the Cold War. It’s well worth going over there to have a read through the whole thing, but as a teaser I thought that I would excerpt what Mark has to say about the development of trance music and his relationship with Paul van Dyk:

My label was officially founded in December 1990 and I called it “MFS (Masterminded For Success)” using the initials of the hated Stasi – East German secret police – to install a new kind of fear and intrigue.

As for the musical style of my label, I wanted to make a more hypnotic, melodious and trance-inducing form of techno music, as a counter balance to the cold, discordant sound of techno (or as it was known here in Germany as tekno, tekkno and tekkkno, the amount of k’s determining the hardness of the sound) and so I first experimented with Alien Nation and a selection of early MFS artists, such as Gabi Delgado’s & Saba Komossa’s Two German Latinos or Paul Browse and Johnny Klimek’s project Effective Force.

My idea of creating “hypno-trance” manifested itself further with the addition of Neutron 9000 and Mijk van Dijk’s Microglobe and Mindgear projects to the label and their more melodic hypnotic techno sound was begining to be simply known as “trance”.

Frontpage magazine editor Juergen Laarman also informed me that our mutual friend, Cosmic Baby, had told him that he was also looking for a new label too and after a brief meeting with Cosmic and a pleasant discussion about musical direction, he also joined MFS in 1991 and I released these first MFS singles under the banner “MFS Trance Dance”.

Although Cosmic was a very proficient musician, he needed a helping hand to make truly dj compatible tracks. After performing at a Dubmission party, he was impressed by a young unknown dj who played before him. He told me that he thought he had found someone who might be right. So I invited and met this young dj the following Monday. That young dj was Paul van Dyk.

Paul seemed pleasant enough and I told Cosmic to simply give it a shot. The result was the first The Visions of Shiva single – ‘Perfect Day’.

As the label started to gain its own “trance” profile, more and more artists such as Humate were added to the label. Once I had enough trance releases, I asked Cosmic Baby and Mijk van Dijk if they would like to remix each track to make a trance compilation album that would be the first and set a standard for all others to follow. This album became the now legendary Tranceformed from Beyond, it was the first real trance compilation album.

After the release of their second and final The Visions of Shiva single Paul and Cosmic decided to go their own separate ways. Cosmic released his brilliant debut album ‘Stellar Supreme’ and a series of superb singles for MFS and Paul concentrated on remix work and his first mix compilation for MFS ‘X-Mix 1 – The MFS Trip’.

Paul wanted this mix album to be his best work to date. He borrowed a 4 track reel-to-reel tape deck and spent the whole day recording the mix and making over-dubs, effects etc. The Master-Tape was due to be delivered at 10pm that night for use on the X-Mix 1 video soundtrack. I arrived at Paul’s flat, just as he was mixing in the last track. He was very excited and really happy with his work. Once the outro was completed, Paul hit the rewind button so that I could hear the entire piece and we sat down to relax. The tape deck smoothly started to gain speed and rewind the tape, building up to a whirlwind speed. Then after about a minute, there was a malfunction and the tape deck suddenly started spinning out of control, it spewed the tape out, stretching it and mashing it all up, as the tape wound itself around the reels, eventually snapping it, all before Paul managed to leap up and stop the machine in a panic! He was devastated. I was stunned. For a moment that seemed like an age, we stood in silence not knowing what to do next. The tape was ruined and obviously beyond repair. Paul only had about an hour to go before the courier arrived to collect the master.

So without a moment to lose, I encouraged him to start again on the mix. I salvaged what I could of the reel and he set to work basically trying to reconstruct his mix from memory. He had to start from the beginning. I helped him with some of the effects and track selection and the results can be heard on the album ‘X-Mix 1 – The MFS Trip’. This mix is therefore absolutely live, with no overdubs or edits, as he finished it only moments before the courier arrived to collect it.

Thanks Hettoblaster!