Interview with MARK of MARKSMAN LLOYD
What has your highlight of 2017 been so far and what are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
The highlight of 2017 so far was supporting Brother Ali and Atmosphere earlier this year in Perth, ‘cause those two guys have been probably some of the most influential artists for me coming up. When I was learning how to rap and put rhymes together, they were the dudes that I was listening to. So all these years later, to be able to like support them, on the same stage and meet them, it was just like fan-boy moment 101 – the best thing ever. And the thing I think I’m most looking forward to at the moment is the tour coming up. I’ve just dropped the EP, so we’ve got this tour coming up, starting this Friday in Perth. I’m looking forward to it, my first proper headline national tour. It’s just a small one (tour) but it’s my own headline show nonetheless and I’m pretty proud about that.
Your track NOMO was produced alongside Jia Lih. What was the collaborating process like?
It was really easy with Jia Lih because I’ve known the guy for a while now. He’s based Melbourne and I’m based in Perth, so we work online together. But it’s just really smooth like he understands me and understands my crazy ideas. Like when I ask him for a certain type of beat and have the worst kind of description for what I’m looking for in a song, he’ll still know exactly what I mean and send something back and I’ll be like “yes, hit the nail on the head, that’s exactly what I wanted!” and yeah it’s just a good working relationship. And it’s cool because he produced most of the songs on the EP and it’s good having just one other person that you’re kind of collaborating and working with because it’s easy to go back and forth, especially when you understand each other. So yeah, he’s my dude.
Your track NOMO is said to take aim at our need for recognition, and the psychological and substance issues we are plagued by as a result. Could you elaborate more on what this means to you?
Yeah for sure – I mean the first verse, especially as creatives, you’ve got that constant need to be like “look at me, check this out or look at this”, whether you’re a musician, a creative, an artist, an entertainer or actor of any kind, there’s just that need to be like “look at me I exist” and I think that just transcends. And especially in the generation we live in at the moment, that whole idea of ‘look at me’ and ‘notice the fact that I exist’ you know in ‘selfie culture’ or whatever you want to call it, it’s just a massive thing. And I think it can be very vacuous and empty, and I don’t know, it’s funny; I mean as I hit my twenties, you just see the amount of people around you, including myself, who have dealt with anxiety and unworthiness. I feel like there’s a correlation between that, you know, the idea that you need to be noticed or you need to be appreciated to feel content or just feel normal, and the resulting anxiety that comes from that when it doesn’t happen.
I know for me, I know a lot of people, abusing prescription drugs or just abusing substances in general just to numb themselves from that and that was a big part of my journey as well. And it just seems to be a very, very real thing and in the second verse I’m talking about a female who’s going through the same thing. She’s trying to be an actor and trying to get put on, but it’s not happening and she just feels so disheartened by it. I guess to put it simply, we need people to see us as a certain identity for us to feel valued and it’s just not really real life. I don’t think there’s happiness at the end of that kind of journey, if that’s what you need, to feel validated and ok, I don’t think you really get contentment from that.
2016 was a successful year for you, taking out the WAM award for best hip-hop song with Pause and launching your Single Seven Laps. What did you learn?
I guess I learnt how much hard work it takes, especially as an independent artist to kind of stay on top of things. It feels like you’re constantly keeping a lot of plates spinning to try and keep things happening. I mean because, I feel like I’ve got a good team of people behind me, but at the same time it’s not a professional team, like I’m not on a label or anything you know, it’s an independent hustle so it’s more like my friends, or I would say my family, that are behind me and helping me out. But just learning how to navigate that whole arena and make things happen and you know, contact the right channels. Because I’ve been independent since the jump, it’s kind of been a very slow and organic build, and I feel like we’ve just naturally learnt how to do things well.
So now when it comes to the lives shows or when we’re making new projects, I just feel like we’re seasoned enough to know how to approach it well and I’m really confident about our live shows, because it’s been tried and tested in front of from three to three-hundred to three-thousand people. So we’ve played enough of those three people shows to work out “ok this is what we’re doing wrong and this is where it needs to go”.
What was it like supporting Perth MC, Drapht, on his Australia wide album tour?
Yeah, amazing. He’s been a big bro for a while now and he’s just such a humble, down to earth dude, who makes obviously, amazing music. But I kind of feel lucky because that was my first larger scale national tour I guess you would say. But to be on there with such good dudes like Drapht and Trials from A.B. Original, who are just a solid bunch of guys, I mean I just felt so blessed to be able to learn from them and just be on tour with them and have fun and yeah it was the best. Sydney and Melbourne (shows) were amazing for me because it was the first time I’d had shows there and they went off as well. I was opener, so I was expecting that maybe we’d have a few people in by then, but both of them were packed.
But then the highlight had to be the hometown show, because I mean, two Perth boys on the lineup, it was just bonkers… it was crazy. I mean it was the first time I’ve been, in the audience, on peoples shoulders, performing my songs, and in that moment you’re just like “man it just doesn’t really get much better than this”. So it was pretty cool, it was a pretty good time.
You’ve supported some huge Aussie names such as Illy, Horrorshow, L-FRESH the LION and more. Do you have any favourites?
Yeah, I mean I had a blast with all of them but I’d say my favourite would have been Horrowshow, just because I’m such a fan of horror show. Drapht, was like I said, definitely up there for me. The Seth Sentry tour we did earlier this year was just amazing. Seth is one of my favourite writers in the country and just a good dude and yeah those three probably come to mind first. And yeah, Thundamentals at The Astor a little bit earlier this year. The Astor in Perth is probably one of my favourite venues to play and it was just sold out shows, good vibes and I love Thundamentals as well. But yeah, they’ve all been killer, but I guess top three would have to be Drapht, Horrowshow and Seth Sentry.
You played PIAF this year, how did that go down? Would you play there again if you were given the chance?
Yeah I’d definitely do it again. It was cool. They have different stages and different setups. We were kind of on a stage where there was the stage, a pathway and a grassed area where everyone was watched. But the pathway wasn’t blocked off so people were kind of walking through when we played so that made it a little bit awkward because you’re kind of trying to get a vibe going and there’s people walking past waving or just checking out what’s going on and it interrupts things a bit. But that’s what I mean, when you play all of these shows and you just have to learn how to navigate an awkward situation like that, so you just make it apart of the show and talk to people as they walk past, try to convince them to stick around. But it’s cool and I think it’s a really cool festival that Perth puts on and I think it was a blessing to be apart of it.
What are your future career plans looking like? Any particular goals in sight?
Yeah of course and I think any artist would say the same, in that you want it to go as far as possible. I want as many people to hear these songs, as possible and I want it to get as much reach as they can. But at the end of the day if I can continue to make music and I can continue to put it out there and people are listening and wanting to hear it and being inspired by it, then that’s all it’s about to me.
For me, happiness and being able to live off what you’re doing creatively and be content with it and continuously be able to be in that inspired place and write and put out stuff that you’re happy about and that you believe in; not just stuff you feel like you need to be writing to fit into a certain genre or trend. But just being able to be completely free and just going where your mind wants to go – that’s my goal. To stay in that place and not get jaded by this whole industry and not get swept up by anything else other than just my love for putting pen to paper or just putting raps to beats and just being able to continue to do that.
AMNPLIFY – DB