Banco de Gaia (Toby Marks) has a new retrospective album out now – Songs From The Silk Road. You can listen to the album below and there’s a special downloadable track. This album is a great way to get into his work, for anyone who hasn’t come across him previously. His work mixes dance beats with influences stretching across the world, especially Asia. I’ve always prefered his more downtempo reflective sounds and that aspect is highlighted in the album.

Alongside the release, Toby was kind enough to do an interview:

1. Your website biog offers readers a multiple choice tour of your life. It is disappointing that it doesn’t go with classic cliches like “…one of the most exciting DJs/producers to come out of (insert country here)”. I was particularly intrigued by the references to being the drummer in a heavy metal band (Iron Maiden?). Given their history that would make you Clive Burr. Did you have long hair and like Iron Maiden when you were younger? I have a copy of the Soundhouse Tapes if you want.

Hmm, how much to reveal? I was totally into metal for a while when I was 14/15 and I did play drums in a metal band, although not one anyone has heard of. I have also had long hair at various stages of my life but have never been much of an Iron Maiden fan. Thankfully I soon discovered Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis and avoided a potentially wasted life.

2. Your first proper album was 1994’s “Maya” on Planet Dog. A classic dance album of the 90s, reflecting the whole Planet Dog / Megadog sound. Really reminds me of lost nights at The Rocket. You are now planning a digital re-release of the album. What sort of extras are you planinng to offer? And what was important to you in making that album?

Last question first; when I originally put that album together I had about 4 years of material ready to go so had to choose which tracks to include. Fortunately I was gigging a fair bit at the time so based it on what got a good response from audiences and also what would work as a whole album listening experience rather than just a series of tunes. Apart from heavy metal, I grew up listening to the likes of Pink Floyd and enjoyed listening to whole albums so I made mine with that goal in mind, to work as a whole.

Extras on the re-release will be remixes and live versions. We’re planning to do this with all the old albums and I have some very interesting old bits and pieces lined up to add…

3. You moved house last year and are re-building your studio – and started a course of Creative Sound and Media Technology to “give my brain a bit of a workout..”. That’s a lot of change. Why did you do that and how’s it going being a student again?

Must be a mid-life crisis I guess. 😉 I lived in the same place doing same old thing for 13 years and it really felt like time to stir things up. Creatively I need to explore new ideas and methods, and socially we were in the middle of nowhere and I wanted to be surrounded by life again. Studying again is great, I’m really enjoying the stimulus of being surrounded by other people interested in the stuff I’m into, and discovering new areas of music and media making I never new about is really exciting. I expect it to lead to some interesting ‘output’.

4. You did some solo rave albums 20 years ago. Do you plan anything else in that vein now? And which rave acts did you like?

Er, I did? Not sure what you’re referring to there but anyway… When I first got turned on to the whole acid house thing in the late 80’s it was people like EZ Posse (Jeff Healy), KLF, Leftfield, The Orb, Bassomatic (William Orbit) and loads of stuff I never knew the names of. It’s a long time ago now and I don’t think I have quite the same energy to do that kind of thing now.

5. You released the retrospective “Memories, Dreams and Reflections” in 2009 and now you’ve released the anthology “Songs From The Silk Road“. Why the two bites at the cherry? And what about new material?

‘Memories’ was more of an exploration of my roots rather than a straight Banco collection, as much about influences as the results of those influences. ‘Silk Road’ is intended as an introduction to what I’ve done for new listeners as well as a choice selection for long term fans, particularly the more mid/down-tempo side of things which has been overlooked inrecent years as I’ve been concentrating on more uptempo live shows.

Meanwhile, new material is on the way. That was half the point of moving, to get the creative juices flowing again.
6. Your 1995 triple album “Last Train to Lhasa” [from which the Last Train to Lhasa (Extended Ambient Mix) is a classic] highlighted the plight of Tibetan people. But you’ve also said “I didn’t start making electronic music with the intention of banging on about an agenda and changing the world.” Can music, especially the hedonistic and non-political nature of much of dance music, make a real difference? And are you still involved with the siuation in Tibet?

I don’t think dance music can really have much of a political effect in itself, but I think it can bring people together and provide a focus for like-minded people to share experiences and thoughts. Using the cover of Last Train to Lhasa as a billboard to highlight the situation in Tibet was, if you like, a bit of socially targeted advertising; the music got people’s attention and then the message could be added as an aside.

I am still as involved with Tibet as I ever was, i.e. it still saddens me to see the destruction of the culture that has taken place and is still taking place, and I’m happy to turn the spotlight on it whenever possible. I guess the world has changed since the 90’s though and the list of urgent causes needing attention just seems to grow and grow. 😦


6. What can we expect from you in 2011 and beyond? And who’s your favourite current act?

Next year, hopefully an album of new material. I’m also seeking interesting collaborations, not necessarily in the vien I’m known for, and I intend to keep getting out and performing for as long as the gigs are there. Favourite current act? Porcupine Tree. Some things don’t change…


Despite the disappointment of Porcupine Tree being Toby’s favourite current act, the Songs From The Silk Road is a great way to get into Toby’s work. The downloadable track is B2, appropriately enough the second track on the album. This is laidback acid flutes.

Download: Banco de Gaia – B2 [expired]

This comes out in February, either on CD in a lovingly crafted Digifile wallet (minimal plastic used) with an 8-page booklet or as a download with 2 bonus tracks – we recommend getting it from our BandCamp page as not only do you get 1 more bonus track, but you can also download the artwork and booklet as well.

~ by acidted on February 9, 2011.


  1. Why is Porcupine Tree being his favorite current act “a disappointment”? Who do you think should be his favorite current act? And why?
    I’d love to see a Toby Marks/Steven Wilson collaboration myself.

  2. Slartibartfast. Fjords innit.

  3. […] Puffing round the bend comes my #35 choice Banco de Gaia and the title track from Toby Marks’ album Last Train To Lhasa (1995). This is from that phase of 90s world or ethnic dance / Megadog and Whirl-Y-Gig. Toby (along with TGU and Loop Guru) did it better than anyone. This long track allows the atmosphere to slowly build, taking until 2.30 until any beats come in. Lovely track. Lovely album. I had an exclusive interview with him back here. […]

  4. […] I interviewed Toby Marks back in February 2011 I never imagined that it would be two years before the new album […]

  5. […] – I’ve only listened to odd tracks. And it even manages to be three years since I interviewed Toby (where did the time go?). I rather wonder whether my memory of it being the best album of its […]

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