Mark Wilkinson is an Australian singer-songwriter who has developed his craft from his initial love of songwriting. Not intending to be a performer, Mark soon established that the only way to get his music heard was to get out there and perform it himself.
Mark recently released his sophomore album “Let The River Run’, on 9 August 2013, and it debuted on the Australian iTunes singer-songwriter charts at No.2. He recorded the album at London’s Abbey Lane Studios. He is presently in the middle of an Australian tour, and hopes to visit the USA this Fall and UK sometime next year.
He has been described as having a ‘lyrical depth, gift for melody, and impassioned delivery’ and is becoming one of his native countries highly regarded singer-songwriters.
Read the interview below to find out more.
SP: Hi Mark, I believe you were born in the UK but your family emigrated to Singapore then Australia. Do you still have family in the UK? Do you visit often?
MW: Yes I do still have family in the UK from both my mother and father’s side. I try to see them whenever I come back to the UK. I’ve been back 3 times over the last 10 years and am hoping to get back at least once every two years to tour..
SP: Do you wonder how your life may have turned out if you had stayed in the UK?
MW: Not really to be honest. My family moved from there when I was only about 6 months old so I don’t really have any memories of being there at that age. I really love the UK though and wouldn’t be opposed to spending some time living there in the future.
SP: Do you think there is a difference between Australian and British music? If so, what do you think the main factors are?
MW: That’s a tough one. To be honest I’m not sure if there is. I don’t know if I could pin down what is a British sound as opposed to an Australian sound. I think musicians everywhere have such varied influences and personal styles that it doesn’t really matter where you’re producing your music. I think sometimes certain production and certain sounds become popular for a period of time and perhaps that’s more likely to be consistent in one country but on the whole I think there’s a lot of variety in both markets.
SP: Congratulations on reaching No.2 on the Australian singer-songwriter iTunes charts with your new album, ‘Let The River Run’. How, does it compare to your previous CD’s? What were your main influences/objectives for the songs?
MW: Thanks, I think the treatment and production of the songs is a little different from previous releases. We definitely tried to incorporate sounds and instrumentation that might be a little unexpected whilst still feeling cohesive. Ollie McGill was fantastic to work with and I think we found a nice balance between creative experimentation and also being mindful of not straying too far from the songs acoustic origins. I really wanted to create an album with some light and shade and I hope we’ve achieved this.
SP: You’re in your eighth year of being in the music profession. How has your career progressed? What have been your highlights and low points?
MW: It’s been a pretty organic progression I guess. I never planned to make music my career. I just loved writing songs and the more I wrote the more I was encouraged to get out there and sing them. There’s been so many highlights, but I think the very first proper gig I played has to be one of them. In the beginning I was very nervous about singing in front of an audience and it took me a long time and a fair few Vodkas to muster up the courage. It went really well though and I think it gave me the confidence to keep at it. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to support some seriously amazing artists and my own audiences have been growing each year. It’s certainly not been without its low points though. I think it’s really hard to keep the faith sometimes when you aren’t making a lot of money and you’re struggling to finance your music and the rest of your life. I think it’s unavoidable in this profession though and the battle certainly makes the sweet moments even sweeter.
SP: Tell us how you begin a song? For example, “Man in the Window”. It has such soulful lyrics with a flamenco-esque sound. Why did you decide to write it in this way?
MW: For me it usually starts with a progression of chords that catches my ear. Once I have that in my head I work on the rhythm of the track. With those two elements I start to experiment with the melody and see what feels right together. The lyrics often come last as I like to try to match the mood of the track with the lyrics. Occasionally I’ll have a lyrical idea that just keeps jumping out and I’ll let that dictate the direction of the song.
Link to the ‘Man In The Window’ video.
SP: You undertook a campaign called ‘A Year of YouTube” back in 2009. Where did the inspiration come from for this?
MW: I guess it was a challenge in some ways and also a way of getting some more of my original material out there. At gigs you get a pretty limited time to play your songs which means lots of stuff you write hardly ever gets performed. Putting a new track out there every week allowed me to give these songs a chance and an audience to see if people connected with them.
SP: What’s the most enjoyable part of making a record for you? You’ve said in a recent interview that you wanted to make a different sound for your new record, and brought on board producer Ollie McGill. How do you feel you achieved this?
MW: I love hearing songs really come to life in the studio. You can take songs in so many different directions when you’re starting with just an acoustic guitar and a voice. There’s no better buzz than when you feel like a song is really starting to lift because of the different elements around it. Working with Ollie was really exciting because he comes from a very different genre of music and was really open to experimenting with a lot of different ideas. He’s extremely versatile so it wasn’t so much about changing my style as much as incorporating some really interesting and creative elements that we thought gave the tracks a little more depth.
SP: You’ve created a myriad of songs. What’s your personal favourite?
MW: I’m not sure I have a favourite. I think I tend to feel most excited about songs when they are new so I’m a bit biased to stuff I’ve just written. Having said that, it’s an amazing feeling when your audience is really engaging with a particular track so if the people listening are into it then it feels great for me too!
SP: You have quite a packed tour scheduled for August/September in Australia. What do you do to keep yourself amused when traveling?
MW: (laughs) Well it’s always good to take a few good books on tour, particularly if you’re flying. Travelling to different towns and cities is great though. It’s cool to just go for a bit of a stroll and check out the sites, hit up a few cafes and bars. An afternoon nap is always a good thing too if you can squeeze it in!
SP: Any plans for a national tour of the US and UK, promoting your new album?
MW: I’m actually heading to the US for some shows and promo in October and I’m hoping to be back in the UK for some shows in 2014.
SP: You must have played in some awesome venues. What’s been your most memorable one? For what reason? And, where would you like to play?
MW: I’ve played the Sydney Entertainment Centre as a support act which was a huge buzz. I’ve seen some of my favorite artists perform there so it was amazing to be looking from the other side of the room. I’d love to go back there as the headliner…just have to convince enough people to come along!
Link to Mark’s video for ‘All I Ever Wanted’.