Singer songwriter Mark Wilkinson loves what he does, despite the driving, flying and hanging around in airports.
How did you get into music?
When I was really young I learned the cello and piano but during my school years I was more interested in playing sports. It wasn’t until I left high school and a flat mate taught me a few basics on guitar that my life really changed and I became obsessed with writing and playing music.
Was there a moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do?
I’m not sure if there was an exact moment when I decided that music was it for me, but I think I became fully committed to it when I quit my day job which allowed me to concentrate all my time an energy writing and playing.
How would you describe your sound?
I write most of my songs on my own and on an acoustic guitar so I guess my sound starts there. In the studio you can take things in lots of different directions, on the whole though, I try not to stray too far from a song’s acoustic roots and what people will hear at a live concert. My sound is probably best described as acoustic singer/songwriter.
What sorts of things inspire you to write songs?
Sometimes what I write about is very personal, like a relationship or experience. Sometimes the story behind a song is completely fictional. Other times I’m inspired by the lives and stories of people around me. I’ll often hear or witness something in someone else’s life and imagine how they must be feeling or how I would feel in their situation.
Any favourite artists or influences?
I like listening to lots of different styles of music but the stuff that hits me the hardest is usually the emotive singer songwriter stuff. Artists like Passenger, Jeff Buckley, Ray Lamontagne and David Gray. Beautiful melodies and lyrics with sincerity and depth.
What music are you listening to right now?
I recently saw the “Searching for Sugarman” documentary and have been listening to a lot of Rodriguez since. Some of my favourite albums over the last year have been, Every Kingdom (Ben Howard), All the Little Lights (Passenger), Early in the Morning (James Vincent McMorrow)
How has busking influenced your music?
I still really enjoy busking. It’s a great way to to practice and I think it can be a really good way to get immediate and honest feedback. I’m not sure how much it influences my writing, but it certainly influences what songs I choose to record and what songs I might choose to try at a proper show. Some songs flop while busking while others cut through and this is often a good indication of what songs to push out there and what songs are probably best kept to yourself!
Any thoughts on the value of shows like Aus Idol, X Factor, The Voice?
I think the reality TV shows can be a great way to get a lot of exposure in a short time. It’s never been something I’ve wanted to do because I’m passionate about the writing and creative side of being an artist which I think can get a little lost on those programs. I think for some artists it can be a really helpful platform to reach a bigger audience and I’m certainly not criticising anyone who chooses that path. Every artist makes their way differently and I think it just depends what you’re comfortable with and what you hope to achieve.
Best and worst things about being on the road?
It’s a real buzz seeing new places and being able to meet and perform to different people. On the flip side though it can often mean a lot of driving, flying or hanging around in airports which can be draining and f*&king boring. We had some great times on the last tour but the most memorable was blowing a tyre about five hours into our trip to Byron Bay. We had a gig that night and didn’t have a jack to change the tyre. We eventually managed to convince a stranger to pull over and give us a lend of his, but it was touch and go there for a while… we made the gig with about five minutes to spare and literally ran straight on stage.
You have a song on a well-known TV ad – have you noticed any extra attention?
For sure, it’s been really great actually. Quite a lot of people have mentioned at my recent shows that they discovered my music through hearing the ad. It’s been a really unexpected and welcome bit of exposure!
What’s next for Mark Wilkinson?
Over the next few months I’ll be touring for the first time to the US and then to New Zealand, before coming back to Australia for another tour here early next year.
How can people find your music?