Byron Mark has been in the Sydney scene for a while and now he’s gearing up for his solo career. Byron first gained our attention with his amazing YouTube video of John Legend’s ‘All of me’ where he craftily shows us his instrumental skills using an acoustic piano and cajon. Byron is a human octopus, his sound gets a little eclectic by effortlessly fusing so many genres together.
We caught up with Byron to chat about how he started composing, what we can expect from him and his love of composing. Margaret Tra writes.
You are very talented, how did you start composing music?
My first composition was a high-school assignment, and from here I became interested in composing and scoring music. However, I crazily thought that as a grown up, to release a song on Rage or Video Hits, you would need some sort of degree or certification to be able to do so, how wrong I was!
Your John Legend YouTube video was amazing, how did you come up with that?
I had to learn how to play ‘All of Me’ for a wedding gig, and once I knew how to play it, I decided to make an arrangement of it using my percussion station featuring the cajon and piano. It turned out surprisingly well, and it was nice to hear lots of positive response from this video.
What would be your favourite genre to make music?
Very tough question but in terms of composing music, probably jazz/funk fusion music (instrumental or vocal). However, I also love composing rhythmic breaks and interesting rhythmic phrases in my flamenco ensembles as well as in various songs.
Who are your influences?
Through my classical piano studies, I enjoy the music of composers such as Gershwin, Beethoven and Debussy; however I am also a massive fan of Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, early Jamiroquai and the Cat Empire, and more recently, flamenco music. So it’s a big melting pot really.
What new projects are you working on?
The newest show I am working with is called ‘The Art of Cadencia’ – which is a fusion of flamenco and tango music and dance styles. I am the percussionist in this show, and also play piano in a few pieces as well.
I am also working on my solo ‘street’ show, where I play keyboard and cajon at the same time, along with my loop station to create a large wall of sound. Here, I perform well known Pop/Funk songs with a twist, showcasing my unique performance style called ‘Octopus Man.’ I have busked at some large events, including Sydney’s Vivid light festival, and it is going well so far! Each time I perform a song in this setup it turns out different, it is a largely improvised arrangement of well-known songs, and the crowd enjoy watching this happen live!
How would you describe your style?
For my solo set, it’s a percussive instrumental adaptation of the ‘one-man-band’ setup. Overall however, I’ve been told that my playing on various instruments is very rhythmic, so I guess it’s a rhythmic style.
Who would be your ideal person to collaborate with?
Wow…so many people. Someone who can sing is a bonus (as that is not my forte) but most importantly someone that has a broad and open mind and understanding of music. I’d love to do a music collaboration with Herbie Hancock!
What stimulates your soul?
Watching amazing musicians on stage, and sharing the stage with great musicians.