UTG INTERVIEW: Mark Maze Discusses ‘Uncomfortable Truths’

London’s Mark Maze lays it all on the line with his newest release, Uncomfortable Truths. Between the honesty in his lyrics, the emotion in his delivery, and the power in its production, the nine-track effort is both refreshing and relatable, qualities that Maze personally strive for in his output.

We recently had the chance to chat with Maze about Uncomfortable Truths, the influences that led to its creation and some plans he has for 2015 to continue promoting the album’s release. You can read our conversation in full below which is followed by Mark Maze’s most recent music video for his single “The Devil May Cry.”

What can you tell me about your background with music? Were you raised around it? What led to your interest in becoming a musician?

I have always grown up with music and many of my childhood memories are evoked by certain soundtracks such as travelling to Wales on holiday and my dad playing Eric Clapton, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Billy Joel or my mum badly miming her way through Tina Turner’s Break Every Rule album after a few too many, but it was whilst watching MJ’s “Thriller” video that I thought “I wanna do that!”

I’d now assume that MJ would be one, but what influences do you think had a hand in you taking an interest in pop music? Any specific artists that you feel helped shape the sound you’ve taken on?

Again, making reference and taking influences from the greats such as Prince and MJ, P!nk massively inspires me due to her vocal intensity and the honesty of her lyrics which spans across many genres. I feel that she is an artist who mirrors who she is on and off the stage which I feel a connection to.

I know that this career is a lot more to you than just the music. Can you tell me a bit about your love for fashion and performance and how it all ties together? Where does that stem from?

After watching Queen perform at Wembley on TV it was evident to me that the marriage of fashion and music are what can separate you from the rest when done well as it’s all part of the art and overall theatre of a performance. Again artists such as Madonna and MJ are prime examples of this as they were the era of MTV where it was proven that a strong visual can influence the intensity of a track and its sentiment, not to mention the overall brand of an artist. MJ and his glitter glove? Madonna and her colonial bra? Say no more!

How would you describe Uncomfortable Truths – in terms of sound, style, and mood – to someone who’s never heard your music before?

I would describe Uncomfortable Truths as an eclectic mix of many sounds but still staying true to the genre of pop essentially. The production value crosses from urban through to rock but overall I would describe my sound as “electric urban pop,” but the constant is my vocal and the truth of my lyrics which are hopefully relatable. The track order of the EP I wanted to take the listener on a journey from despair like in “The Devil May Cry” to dusting your self off with a ‘kiss my ass’ type attitude in tracks such as “2nd Best” and “Get Gone,” then to shining a light on conscientious subjects in society which I tried to do in “Crying Game.” So I would like to think that the overall mood would be “reflective.”

If you’re fine with sharing, what are some experiences that led to the lyricism and tone of the album? What do you hope listeners get out of experiencing these songs?

The common theme of my tracks I guess would be heartbreak as that’s what most songs are about and why they are so relatable so I wanted to speak my truths as I lived them, hence the title. There is definitely a tone of angst in there as the lyrics are very honest and from my own experiences to how I felt at the time so above all I want my audience to feel a connection to my lyrics in some way whilst the bad-ass beat behind the lyric is to drive the message home harder.

The album has been getting a ton of coverage from all over the world. How does it feel to know that so many people are enjoying your music – that you’re reaching so many people with something you’ve created?

I am very humbled that people are embracing me and my sound as I hope they can see that nothing about me is contrived or fake. It is a product of honesty and passion and I feel lucky that the people who matter ‘get me.’ The exercise of writing and making music is very cathartic so when you are in the process of creating you are literally laying yourself bare and don’t really think about how it’s going to be received so it’s just a massive cherry on a slow-baked cake made from blood, sweat and tears.

As far as the album’s cover, I see a guarded, vulnerable Mark Maze, but there’s also a confidence present – that’s my interpretation at least. Why did you choose the photo you did and what does it represent to you in how it coincides with your music?

I chose the image which was shot by a great photographer and good friend, Alexander Beer, because it depicts the sentiment of the EP. I am very much a walking contradiction where I am tough but vulnerable, outspoken but shy, so I felt the image of me loosely covering my ears mirrored the Uncomfortable Truths sentiment as I do look venerable and resistant to hearing the truth but the image still remains strong and honest which are all things which I hope I project through my music overall.

mark maze cover

The video for “The Devil May Cry” is beautiful, both in its story and its production value. Are those elements things that are important to you in portraying your music with visuals? Do you plan to continue directing and having control over your output like that moving forward?

Firstly, that’s very nice of you to say, and yes it’s very important to me that the moving image captures the overall feel and mood of the track taking it to a whole new level. It’s also as important for me to have creative control over the visual direction moving forward as sometimes directors can give you an interpretation of how they see the video but it’s more important for me to match the visual to what initially inspired the song and ultimately to tell the story by staying true to the lyric. Sometimes I can hear a song and like it then watch the accompanying video and love it, so I always have that in the back of my mind.

And do you have any current plans for the next video off the album as of right now?

I am in talks with a production team about a video for the next single, “Crying Game,” which is a track about perceptions of how I see the world which are presented to us through the media and by my own personal experiences, but I wanted to make it less about me and more about the issues we face in society by using powerful imagery to highlight the lyrics for maximum impact.

Uncomfortable Truths has been out for two months now. What have you been focusing your efforts on since the release?

My objective is to let people know who I am so I have been trying to get as much media coverage as possible by getting reviews in fantastic publications such as yours and to build my demographic and audience through social media. etc. I have been gigging at venues across the UK with more dates being announced soon.

And for the remainder of 2015, any other plans or goals laid out that you can reveal?

I am in talks with a major dance DJ/Production duo called Hollaphonic who are currently riding high in the charts with their single and album both here in the UK and overseas. They are wanting to remix the lead single off the EP, “The Devil May Cry,” which we feel is going to be massive so look out for hopeful major radio play and PAs as I cant wait to start promoting by getting back out there on stage as that’s where I am at most at home.

Brian Leak
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