Hailing from St. John’s, N.L., Mark Bragg is an acclaimed musician with a taste for the darker, grittier side of the human condition. In addition to having received international acclaim for his first two records, Bragg was awarded the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award and was also the regional winner of CBC’s Great Canadian Music Dream competition.
Bragg is currently touring in support of his new record Your Kiss, his first release in six years, released Canada-wide in September.
“It definitely feels like a long time since my last release but it is actually the same amount of time that lapsed between my first and second records. I’m not exactly prolific like a lot of other writers. I actually had to make a conscious decision to get back into songwriting.” Bragg says.
So what exactly has the musician been up to in the five or six years since his sophomore release Bear Music? Well, he has actually taken on one of his most ambitious projects yet: being a father.
“Having a child has definitely been my most ambitious effort yet,” he laughs. “I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the experience though.”
Recorded in a mere three days, Your Kiss sees the musician and his backing band plowing through the songs on the record at an almost frantic pace. The energy captured on record can perhaps be attributed to the fact that Bragg and his band chose to make the record live off the floor as opposed to recording each instrument individually.
“The biggest difference with this record was that we chose not to isolate ourselves and opted not to use headphones to hear one another. We ended up setting up monitors as if we were playing a club show and managed to get a whole lot of energy happening between us.”
Though he admits their approach to recording Your Kiss ended up limiting their mixing and editing options once the tracks were laid down, he feels the pros of said approach definitely outweighed the cons.
“It was totally worth it as far as I’m concerned. We captured the band at our best; I am really happy with the sound of the record. It reminded me of why I make music and why I love performing,” he says.
Even though he calls Newfoundland home, Bragg does not often have the opportunity to tour the Maritimes as often as he might prefer. His family responsibilities have forced him to become a little more selective in terms of shows he accepts and how long he is away from home.
“Aside from a one-off show I played in Halifax a couple of years back, it has probably been five or six years since my last tour of the Maritimes. Living in Newfoundland poses a bit of a challenge when it comes to touring. It is actually more cost effective to have me travel alone and pick up musicians in places that I am playing.”
Though he might not get to play outside of Newfoundland as often as he would like, he says that the music scene in his hometown is thriving in spite of its somewhat remote location, hosting a mix of local and national acts on the various stages throughout the city.
“St. John’s has a fantastic and voracious live scene. I think a lot of bands and people find it worthwhile to make the trip there. The audiences are great and supportive and are also fiercely supportive of local bands. It seems as though there are a lot more bands making an effort to tour here and as the result, St. John’s is taking a place on the national music scene.”
Article published in November 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript