Mark Haze Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views
PD: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
MH: That’s quite a tough question, as I don’t really self-examine my style or type of genre. I suppose, primarily I operate in the Rock genre, but I’m so hugely influenced by various styles of music, art, people and life itself that it’s sometimes hard to define my art from a collective point of view. Whether I’m performing or doing a session, or producing, I try to be as free as possible and not blocked by too many rules when attempting to apply myself to a song/performance. So I guess, you could say that I’m always ‘fluid’ in terms of style, but I give everything of myself in the moment. In my opinion, history tends to define an artist, like when looking back at Mozart and Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, we see their collect work as a whole and are able to describe it. God willing, one day people will be discussing my art in the history books.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
MH: Music was always a big part of our household. The radio would often be on at home, or my older cousins would be showing off their latest CD or cassette tape and I’d listen and take it all in. Both my grandparents sang in our church choir and we had a piano in our house that my grandmother often played. I loved to sing as a kid, but was extremely shy. My parents got me to sing in front of the church when I was 4 years old and I remember feeling very exposed. I really just wanted to create music and loved the idea of playing an instrument, so my parents signed me up for piano lessons at 7 years old. Later that year, I got to see my uncle perform with his band and I instantly fell in love with the electric guitar and the power of live performance. I begged my folks for a guitar and they begrudgingly obliged. I fully committed to learning how to be a ‘Rock Star’ and studied all my heroes like Clapton & Hendrix. In high school, I learned how to play drums and a bit of trumpet and took music as a diploma subject and learnt composition and proper theory. I learnt by ear at first and then delved into the academic side of it to further my knowledge. Writing songs, both with friends and on my own as well as jamming with different people in different bands across different genres really opened my eyes to so many styles and ways of performing. I had no intention of singing, until after a string of auditions to try and find a suitable singer in my then band fell horribly short of my requirements. I was persuaded by my friends and family to just do it myself, as I didn’t realise that what I was asking for (as well as showing the people coming to audition) wasn’t ‘doable’ by anyone else. It was completely oblivious to me that I actually had a good voice, nor that I could reach notes a lot of other guys couldn’t. I’ve been performing a long time and learnt so much – when I merged into becoming a producer as well, I almost didn’t even notice it happening.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
MH: I’m inspired by life itself – any situation, story, feeling, riff, or even a beat can send me on a journey. My biggest musical influences growing up, were Queen and The Beatles. Their music never felt like it fit into any formula or box and I remember always wanting to be able to ‘break the rules’ like they did.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
MH: I used to think about playing massive arenas and stadiums and touring the world, winning awards and making a name for myself. I’ve done a lot of those things and they’ve all been amazing on my journey, but it doesn’t last forever. Once the spotlight is down and the last note plays, you quickly realise that the high can’t be sustained. My eye immediately goes to the next thing to do and the next show and the next project and the next song to write, etc. My biggest aspiration as an artist is to always try to enjoy what I’m doing in the moment and appreciate it when it comes and then be able to look forward to whatever comes next without the potential drop in enthusiasm when the ‘big’ moments end. All I want is for what I do to matter to people who need to hear what I have to say. I want my work to bring joy to others.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
MH: The first time I played a stadium show, I got the opportunity open for Bon Jovi. I figured I’d get a few applause and hopefully keep the crowd vibing a bit until the band they actually came to see comes out – the reason they bought the ticket. The announcer said my name and my band kicked into the intro track and I walked on. The audience’s cheers exploded as I stepped on stage and I had to quickly regain my composure – I didn’t expect it at all. That was a pretty proud moment for me … to be reminded that for that moment, you and your music mean something to so many.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
MH: It’s a new world and a new challenge, but to be fair, it’s never been an easy task getting your stuff noticed. It’s easier than before, to get your music tracked and out there in the world, but it’s still just as hard as before in terms of getting anyone to take notice of it. So it’s a lot of the old in a new environment. I personally love that technology has given us a chance to get more art out into the world. I’ve got a good team working with me at the moment and things are landing on the desks of the right people, so I really can’t complain. I think the important thing is to keep creating and keep performing and the business stuff will eventually fall into place. Seems to be working 😉
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
MH: I had to put the brakes on my shows for the last few months. I had a pretty serious back injury that I’d been dealing with for nearly 14 years. The time came to get an operation, so my doctors advised that I get it sorted out. I’ve been out of action since January, but I’ll be back on stage from April onwards. I get to kick off my return with a big outdoor show in Cape Town called, Concerts in the Park. I have plans to get to most of South Africa this year and one or two discussions regarding some overseas work, but nothing is official just yet.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
MH: It’s never been easier to get your music out and available to so many people and that part of the streaming services is what I love. The ability to earn a living through royalties is drastically lower now than ever before, which is what I don’t really like about it. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. I see it as a chance to gain new fans anywhere in the world – it helps a lot to be able to set up a tour based on your geographical streams.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
MH: The Show Must Go On by Queen. It says everything I feel, it has all the musical makings of a masterpiece, a killer guitar solo, and a message of rising above any challenge that comes your way. It’s my favourite song!
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
MH: I really wish we’d stop celebrating the fame angle and get more into the music angle again. We’ve moved from a society who really listened to music, instruments and lyrics and searched for importance and soul-satisfying comfort in songs and artists, to a society who cares more about the scandal and the self-implied importance of a bunch of idiots shaking their asses, while drinking expensive drinks, making ‘music’ about how important they are and giving zero substance to anyone in this generation. The sad thing is that our industry is full of amazing and inspirational people, but almost all the attention is being given to the talentless and tactless, because they’re seen as daring or brave or unapologetically ‘owning it’. Something seriously wrong has happened – people are celebrated for their drama in life before they’re art is celebrated.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
MH: As soon as I’m able to bounce back after recovery from my spinal surgery, I will be doing the finishing touches to a new single and music video that I’ll be realising in the next few months. I plan on bringing out an EP this year and I’ve got plans to get on the road as soon as I can.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
MH: Website http://www.markhaze.com
All Links https://linktr.ee/realmarkhaze
Facebook & Instagram @RealMarkHaze
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