FLOOD – An Influence of mine, what influences him?
Flood (Mark Ellis), that mysterious name you see on the back of albums put out on Mute and Some Bizarre Records. An engineer/producer you don't really hear people talk about who has worked on some great albums with bands such as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey amongst others. He is not a producer with a distinctive style or a set way of doing things. He is humble and approaches every project within it's own merits. Often paired up with Alan Moulder working together as a team to share the duties of the live room and control room. But the thing that interests me the most about Flood is his approach to embracing new technology while still maintaining a raw approach when necessary. So what is it that inspires Flood?
The aesthetics of Brian Eno have had an impact on so many creative people. Originally the eccentric, mad scientist behind the synthesiser in Roxy Music. He went on to work with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads and is a pioneer in ambient and electronic music releasing a plethora of solo albums, some of which have been used in art galleries and even birthing suites (Eno's Album I Dormienti played during the birth of my first daughter Rei Protea Mitchell). Brian Eno was a huge influence on Flood and they even worked together on U2's - The Joshua Tree. Which I'm sure left a lasting impression on Floods apporach and aestheticsto recording sound.
“My first album was David Bowie's Aladdin Sane, but the one that changed my life forever was Iggy And The Stooges' Search And Destroy.” Flood
It's impossible to discuss the post punk scene without acknowledging the importance of David Bowie. For any young aspiring artist coming of age in the late 70's/ early 80's Bowie's influence was monumental. Flood was no exception, being born in 1960 he would've been one of the many impressionable kids to see Bowie Performing Star Man on top of the pops in 1972. He would've followed Bowie's transition from glam rock star Ziggy Stardust to dystopian anti hero The Thin White Duke and beyond into the Berlin era featuring work with Iggy Pop and Brian Eno. The versatility of musical style and the embracing of new ideas and technologies that were a big part of Bowie's aesthetic could have been a huge influence on the young Mark Ellis.
Raw and uninhibited, embodying an attitude that was certainly never seen in popular music at the time and has rarely been embraced since, Iggy Pop was the embodiment of rock n' roll chaos. He was quite misunderstood when he first came out and it was through Bowies help that he became the icon we know him as today. Bowie worked on the album Raw Power, helped present Iggy's personality in a certain way and continued to help iggy become more accessible with the following albums The Idiot and Lust for Life. The combination of raw energy and accessible presentation could have had quite an impact on the young Mark Ellis.
Mark Ellis had been playing guitar in a punk band when he was inspired to start working in the recording industry after he read an article about being a tea boy in a recording studio. The article was supposed to put people off wanting to work in this industry but after reading it he was intrigued and started calling all the local studios until someone took him on. He earned the nickname Flood for bringing so much tea and coffee in that he was flooding them. From learning the ins and outs of the studio in a very hands on manner, he eventually started working on recording as an engineer. The first album that he is credited as an engineer on, is New Order – Movement. He has mostly been an engineer but has also worked as producer.
Flood Influences me because of his humble, hands on approach to working with bands. He believes in not adding effects or plug ins if you can get it to sound great just with the mics, room, recording technique and basic eq. While he still embraces seeing where you can take sounds with all that technology offers without being completely dependant on it. He does not have a set way he does things and he collaborates with artists rather than calling the shots. I believe that a producers job is to help artists blossom.