It’s about ten years now since Brisbane singer/songwriter, Mark Lowndes first picked up a guitar. Music wasn’t always what he wanted to do. It was more of a hobby in the beginning. “But then I couldn’t put the guitar down. I started playing late at night and Mum would be knocking on my door saying ‘Get to bed!’” he laughs. Eventually, he decided to give it a go and pursue a career in music. “And so far, it’s been pretty good. One door led to another and it’s been going really well.”
Mark is especially proud of his latest single, ‘Far Away,’ a beautifully written and emotionally charged song that Mark says is ‘about separation, but always carrying that special someone or something in your heart with you.’ The track was recorded at Brisbane’s Hope Studios and is out now on iTunes and the singer is pretty confident that everyone who hears it will find a connection of some kind within the lyrics. It’s that kind of song. An EP, ‘The Redress’ is due for release later this year.
While there is no doubting that Mark Lowndes has a soulful and engaging voice, he sees himself as more of a songwriter than a performer although, he admits, that wasn’t always the case. But one day, it just all became clear to him. It all started after a jam session with his cousins. “They could all sing and they could all play an instrument,” he recalls, “But I remember one time, going home, it was almost like I had just had a revelation and I said ‘I just want to start focusing on my song writing.’ My strength was never my vocals or guitar playing so I focused on song writing. And then I had to play guitar and sing so that just got better as time went along but song writing was my strength and I’m very happy that I chose to do that because a lot of my cousins are still in cover bands and they sing other people’s songs but I’m very big on expressing my own voice so, over the years, I have kind of developed what I guess was my greatest strength: song writing.”
Along the way, Mark entered some acoustic competitions and singer/songwriter competitions around Brisbane. “I haven’t won all of them,” he says. “But I’ve done pretty well to win and be runner up and to make a name for myself as a singer/songwriter in Brisbane is a milestone in itself.” Mark says that, when he was younger, he was always trying to chase something bigger, always trying to chase a dream and it felt never ending. “Once I was content with just doing music, I realised that this is a great thing to do and it was great to be a part of in this industry so I might as well just enjoy it and just be happy with how far it’s come. I really believe that I have something unique – probably like every other artist and musician out there. My sound might not appeal to everyone but it does bring a certain joy and positivity to people and that’s what I think a lot of people need.”
He has his sights set on getting his music out in the public domain, for everyone to hear. “I’m really trying to push, as a goal, to get my music on TV and to be used as part of a TV show and, in the ten years I’ve been doing this, no one has ever played my songs on radio. It would be awesome to hit the airwaves.”
Mark also writes poetry and has had some success with his poems. “It sort of stemmed off the song writing. I entered a competition for Slam Poetry, where you just go hard for about two or three minutes and just speak your poem. A lot of people get right into it, with the hand gestures and some explicit words as well. I entered this competition and I won the Queensland Finals last year for the Slam Poetry Competition.”
Something else that Mark is also deservedly proud of is the work he does with young people through a program he is involved in. “The workshops are mostly in schools,” he explains. “But I’m open to wherever people want my services. I have to be honest with myself. I really do have a heart for youth, especially with all my little cousins and nephews and nieces. And the way the world has changed, it is different from when I was growing up and so I thought I could use my music to get through to kids and hopefully even if just one person takes something positive on board then that’s my job done. I just wanted to make a difference and all these services jumped on board so we had people promoting positive stuff like free studio time and there was an organisation promoting dance lessons because some of these kids are into dance and all the creative arts and stuff like music and theatre. And we had organisations working with kids with depression and anxiety and trouble at home. It was almost like a mini expo. Every school we went into there were tables promoting different services and I was running the show so I was using music as a drawcard to get their attention to do activities, free giveaways as well as giving services to interact with the students through activities so they can see them as human beings and not just these people in business suits. It was a really big thing and the success and the feedback was great, to the point where we are planning one for early next year.”
Last year, Mark made it to the finals of Australia’s Got Talent. “There were a few pros and cons with it but the bottom line is that I was very firm with the directors.” Mark was adamant that he would only go on the show if he performed his own music – no covers! He wanted to show people that he could write his own songs. “The director laughed,” he tells me. “He said ‘I like how you stick to your guns but you might come to a stage when you might have to sing a cover.’ And I said to him ‘Well, I’ll just opt out of the comp.’ Lucky for me it never came to that point. I was very fortunate to get to the finals by showcasing my original music.”
One of the highlights of his career so far was supporting Boys To Men on their tour a few years back. One day, he had a call asking him to do the tour and thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t and the singer found himself touring with a band he had always admired. “That was an experience in itself. Just to hear them warm up. I grew up with R & B and Motown on my mum’s side.” And now, following on from a successful European tour which saw Mark performing in Germany and the U.K., he is planning a national tour here in Australia very soon. “‘I’m really happy because I’m planning everything. I think it’s really exciting when you take control of your own craft and destiny. I’m very excited. With the new single coming out, it’s a product that I stand by. After all the other things I’ve done, this one is like an evolution for me and I’m very excited to be planning this mini tour.”
“I have worked here and there in Melbourne and Sydney,” he tells me. “And even over in New Zealand but this time I really want to go all out and maybe I can gain some momentum with this new CD that’s been released. I just put good music out there and hope people hear it. But this time, I’m really believing in what I have so I’m just ready to push it as much as I can. My mum always said ‘Write your vision down and know what you want to do.’ and I’ve never done it before now. I’ve always just been too chilled. I’d say ‘I just want to play music Mum!’”
If you live in Brisbane, you can hear Mark Lowndes play his music every Sunday from 2pm til 5pm at the Greystone Bar in Little Stanley St, Southbank and keep your eyes open for tour dates to be announced soon.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved
Download Mark’s new single, ‘Far Away’ here
Check out the video for ‘Far Away’ here
And for more information about Mark Lowndes, check out the following links…