For this instalment of Music in a time of Global Crisis, the conversation is brought to Mark Hjorthoy. Mark is a musician, producer, radio host and sound designer from Vancouver, BC, Canada, creating music across a broad range of styles including electronic, IDM, electroacoustic and drone. Mark’s solo projects include the up-tempo Little Robot Hands, the experimental ambient A Laughing Circuit, and under his own name. In addition to his solo projects, Mark works alongside Don Verbrilli as the duo Telefuzz and as Blinking Things with Don Verbilli, and Dan & Christine Handrabur. Professionally, Mark has worked with the Roland/BOSS Corporation to design sounds for the BOSS GP-10 Processor/Guitar Synth. Mark’s work on the GP-10 can be found here.
In this feature, Mark talks about rekindling the passion for music making, the artist taking back control of the music industry, the effectiveness and excitement of live streaming performances, and the importance of staying connected through music.
How have the widespread lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 crisis affected your music making?
I’ve found that the lockdown made me think more about making music than before. It’s a bit of a dangerous slide though. Although I’m thinking about it in a “I’m stuck at home, better make a great album” way, that brings on a great deal of depression, for thinking you SHOULD be making more music even if you don’t feel like it. What I’ve learned from it, is that it’s ok to take a break from making music if you don’t FEEL like doing it. I learned quite a bit about myself as a person and a musician through all of this, and I feel like I’ve grown tremendously from it. I’m back in a “music making” frame of mind now, and I know the music will be better because of it.
What music, new or old, have you been listening to lately, and have your listening habits changed as a result of the current situation?
I’ve been listening to a lot of William Basinski, Tape Loop Orchestra, and Loscil’s music. I have to divide my “listening” time between what I want to hear at the moment, and auditioning tracks from my radio show, (Trapped In Motion – deradio.ca). I don’t think my listening habits have changed, but maybe they are evolving, as I audition a lot of tracks for my radio show. There are SO many great albums out there.
Consequence of Sound reported the worst week of album sales since the 1960s (28th March 2020). Do you think the coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting negative effect on the music industry?
Hmmmm,…. That is a very good question. Personally, I think that the music business as it is, is less about music, and more about product. I think that we have the chance to make it more about the artists now. With online festivals happening, more artists can be seen around the world, without having to shell out thousands for travel, hotel, permits, etc. I am all for that. More exposure, less cost, means that musicians can afford to make quality music, that’s mastered properly. Bring it on!
With more musicians live streaming from their homes than ever before, do you think this trend will continue once things improve?
Oh I hope so. If we can get this trend working, it would open areas of the world to great quality shows that they may not have been able to afford to see, or be able to travel thousands of miles to get to. Everyone deserves to be entertained by great artists, and great artists deserve to have their fan base grow.
What do you think we as music makers can be doing to create positivity right now?
I think we need more online festivals or have artists start their own from home. It’s important to show the world that we’re all connected, and if people have to be locked down, let’s give them a reason to say “WOW! That was amazing! I love (insert artists name here)” . If we give them that, positivity will follow. Maybe add a Q&A here and there, so we can show our crowd just how much we appreciate them.