Steven Mark. Taste his music. Feel the vibrance as his songs are resonating with your deepest truth. Open your inner ears to hear, really hear. Shred your everyday gown of numbness and put down your shields. His storytelling is like reading a novel, something new yet genuinely familiar. Connection. The very idea and feeling we have been all longing for. A journey to a better and cleaner, brighter place being in sadness or joy, it’s tranquility. Steven Mark, thank you for recreating life this way and sharing it with us! And thank you for our talks. Here is one for you, kind reader. Take your time.
And while you are at it, listen to Steven Mark’s “Another Tale” – let yourself dream and trust again!
Steven Mark: Thank you so much for the opportunity. It’s been awhile since I’ve put out any new music, so this is fun.
Music Authentic: After listening to your songs, it’s an honour for me! Here is our “site-traditional” first question: How did you sleep last night?
Steven Mark: Not well. I’m not sure if it’s all the work of putting out new music again, or more likely the state of world, but I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Music Authentic: You’ve mentioned the ongoing, escalating things all around. In many ways, your music reflects an escape, like a pocket Universe of tranquility and calmness for a few minutes. Where do you gain your strength?
Steven Mark: My father. He’s 91, living in an assisted living facility and never complains. He always is in a chipper mood and making the most of each day. He’s a true role model.
Music Authentic: That’s such a nice age and a truly loving father-son relationship. How do you think your life will be in a few years from now on?
Steven Mark: I’ve been going down a lot of bad rabbit holes these days as I’ve not been optimistic about where things are headed. But I try to stay focussed on what I can control.
Music Authentic: It might not be an easy line to draw – if it is possible at all -, but do you consider yourself an artist or a musician?
Steven Mark: I consider myself a songwriter. I can play piano and guitar alright, and I have a serviceable voice. But I sometimes fantasize about having been able to work in the Brill Building in the early 60’s writing songs for other artists and seeing them come to life with their performances as I look on proudly through the glass in the recording studio.
Music Authentic: Do you think there are firm lines among the different roles all you need to be an all-in-one solution for your art?
Steven Mark: There are firm lines. I think the making of music and the marketing of music are two completely different tasks and skill sets. When I record, all I’m thinking about is how I want the song to sound. I don’t want to be thinking what might sell.
Music Authentic: The future has come with all the benefits and all the past baggages left behind. Would you rather live in the Earth in 20 years or be the part of the first Mars colony?
Steven Mark: I’ll take earth 20 years from now. Even with all its problems, I think that air is a good thing to have on a planet.
Music Authentic: We have had engaging talks and personally I feel you have a great character, you have a story, you have your own art and still find it astonishing, your songs are less heard than they ought to be. As an indie artist, have you ever felt promoting your music become almost like a door-to-door selling?
Steven Mark: Yes. It’s really challenging getting your music out there without feeling like you’re pushing it on people. The great thing is that there are now so many ways to get your music out there online It’s fun to see that I’ve had people on Spotify listening in places like Australia and the Philippines. That couldn’t have happened before the internet.
(The interview continoues below the photo – read on!)
Music Authentic: You are a storyteller and define yourself as a songwriter. Now there is a heated debate between streaming companies and real musicians whether to have a single coming out every month or ripen things into an album. How do you feel, are concept albums over, or is storytelling still important?
Steven Mark: I’ve always loved a good concept album! Sgt. Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon and more recently Green Day’s American Idiot are some of my favourite albums. I consider two of my four albums concept albums. Aloneaphobe had a running theme as did Racing Grey. But I understand that music isn’t consumed the same way anymore. It’s more singles and playlists than people sitting down to spend time with one album in the order the songs were meant to be played. Still, I prefer making an album to just singles, and my new EP The Long Goodbye in some way in my head is a concept album in that even though the songs were written pre-pandemic, it explores themes like isolation, loss and mortality that are relevant for these times. I had the choice of putting them out there as five singles, but I created them as a five song collection, with a song order in mind. To me, they are a unit meant to be consumed together.
Music Authentic: I like asking lighter questions, so: which superhero would you rather play?
Steven Mark: The Flash. I was more D.C. than Marvel growing up and I don’t think they’ve done The Flash in the movies.
Music Authentic: As we said, the world is in the middle of a larger change. Some protests for keeping old things in society other masses are very loud to declare no more. Where do you stand?
Steven Mark: I don’t know if I’m the best person to be discussing traditional values. But there does seem to be a decline in morality and empathy in our culture. I think people should just practice kindness and empathy more.
Music Authentic: Are you striving or thriving these days?
Steven Mark: Depends what day you talk to me. I guess a little of both. And with all that’s going on in the world, I’ll add surviving.
Music Authentic: It might be a typical question, however, I’m interested in: what things would be the greatest achievements for you through your art?
Steven Mark: After making an album, I want everyone in the world to hear it. But it’s challenging building an audience and no matter how much it grows, you always want more. So I try to remind myself that the greatest achievement is just making something authentic and true to yourself. That’s all you can really control.
Music Authentic: Which artist do you recommend to listen to from the past or the contemporary era and why?
Steven Mark: So many to choose from. The Beatles is too easy. I still listen a lot to R.E.M, who have always been a big influence on me not just musically, but the way they stayed true to themselves over the years. And I’ll also use this chance to plug Supertramp, a band that never gets the credit they deserve. Breakfast In America is a classic album
Music Authentic: Let’s imagine you can step in as the President for a week. Would be the most crucial to begin a change with?
Steven Mark: Stopping the spread of this virus. Without solving that problem right now, none of the other problems can really be tackled.
Music Authentic: What special, important project have you been working on?
Steven Mark: My new EP, The Long Goodbye is the project that’s precious to me right now. It’s the first time I’ve released new music in a long time. It came as a real surprise to me. I thought I was done making music. But after my dog passed away a few years back. I started playing piano again, mostly learning other people’s songs. That accidentally led to writing some new ones. I had no plans to record again, until doing a show last fall when I played those new songs. After that I thought, yeah, maybe I’ll record these as an EP.
Music Authentic: You tell stories well with your music. Whose story influenced you the most?
Steven Mark: My Dad. He’s lost a lot of people in his life including friends, my mom and another love in his life. But he’s kept on going, living life and seeking joy
Music Authentic: How can you, as an indie artist, use your stage as a platform to help out others?
Steven Mark: I don’t have that big of a stage or platform. What I do try to do is post some other people’s music on twitter. If someone gives it a listen, I feel good knowing I shared it.
Music Authentic: Looking around the world you walk in day by day, what are the hardest challenges?
Steven Mark: I think the hardest challenge right now is knowing what to do. There’s so much to be concerned about, but it can feel powerless.
Music Authentic: When you have some free time, how do you like spending it?
Steven Mark: Watching Chicago Bulls basketball. No matter how bad they are these days, when I watch them, the rest of the world disappears for a couple of hours.
Music Authentic: Let’s wrap it up with your message to encourage others!
Steven Mark: Practice kindness. Be empathetic to friends and strangers. Seek joy wherever and whenever you can. And if you see injustice, try to speak out and be a force against it.
Music Authentic: Thank you for taking the time. I’m sure we will have more to share with each other!