Earlier this year Mark released his collaborative album Vs featuring a range of electronic, dub influenced work with various artists ranging from Front 242 to Adrian Sherwood and a cameo from Lee Scratch Perry. The connecting thread was Stewart’s voice, a unique sound of controlled hysteria heard here, too, to great effect on this remix/remash by Ye Gods of a track originally recorded with the now sadly deceased Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic and ‘visualised’ by Paul Baker in an old school, projectionist manner.
Mark kindly agreed to a quick email interview.
OUTSIDELEFT: Where do you live? (Not exactly, of course, I mean, house, flat, warehouse, garden, inner city, suburbs - I think you’re in Bristol?). Obviously I’m snooping but genuinely interested.
Mark Stewart: I’ve got gypsy blood so I don’t really live anywhere at the moment -but I’m constantly inspired by the wild animus outside the dome and perhaps folklore exists to warn us of the perils of nature
OL: You have a unique singing/talking/shouting voice. I actually can’t think of another singer you sound like. My bet is that you don’t and never have modelled yourself on, say Jim Morrison or Lux Interior and, perhaps, try not to think too much about how you sound. Would I lose that bet?
MS: No you wouldn’t but talking about herring (betting?) I think risk is everything and the obstacle is often the way as a chi master would say
OL: Sometimes manic energy covers fear. Fear of an emptiness into which negativity can flood or fear that, if you stop moving, you cease to exist…
MS: I think in these darknesses gems are found
OL: …are you afraid?
OL: You don’t seem afraid. But you seem to have huge energy. What drives that?
MS: information medicine
OL: It’s interesting to see how some artists who have maintained a level of success since their youth deal with old age. People like Paul Weller, Ian Brown, Morrissey, Johnny Rotten etc. If all you’ve known is the music business and creative worlds does that shrink your ability to connect with the day-job nation...
MS: I don’t have much contact with that sort of thing sorry
OL: ...To decide what’s truly important? Does it matter?
MS: we are getting into the realms of spirituality here
OL: How important is the scene?
MS: finding people u can relate to or who inspire you is life affirming and vs is like my testimony a kind of book of souls to those I’ve met -I’ve got a saying ‘ trust the road’
OL: Some musicians seem to exist in a small world. You make a point of talking about the wider scene of people you feel artistically connected to and it could be argued that Vs wouldn’t have existed without you being part of that scene.
MS: It’s a kind of parallel world populated by outcast and inter dimensional beings
OL: How would it be if you were suddenly by yourself?
MS: I'm very happy /joy is the ultimate disobedience
OL: Commercial pop music is increasingly radical sonically.
OL: ...Mainstream artists co-opt what was once seen as extreme or obscure.
MS: Perhaps they are inspired by it
OL: I’m reminded of Bo Diddley, who faithfully kept his pure moment of inspiration alive and saw it copied and taken and used and exploited by more successful artists. By the end of the 1960s Bo was trying his hand, very successfully, at funk...
MS: yes brilliant stuff we are all prostrates comes from that vein
The interview ends there, as if he’d got up and walked away, possibly distracted by a chemical sunset, but Mark answered one more question in a follow up…
Who is the most stylish young performer at the moment, in your sartorial estimation?
Alvin stardust /his leather glove with the ring on the top and that point was what made me start!