Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Thought You’d Be Around”?
“Thought You’d Be Around” is essentially about breaking free. I think we often find ourselves in situations where we are waiting for change or for something to happen, whether it’s love, success, happiness. That change is often beyond our control and that sense of waiting can be paralysing. I’ve certainly felt that way both in relationships and professionally. This song is about abandoning the waiting game, accepting how things are and putting yourself in charge of finding a new path. There’s definitely some heartache in this track centered around letting go, but I wanted the music to have a lightness to it and for the track to feel free and hopeful like you’re driving on an empty freeway that leads you somewhere beautiful.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The lyrics in this track are in part inspired by a conversation I had with a friend who was trying to move on from a broken relationship. Memories and reminders of past relationships are often etched in our surroundings and my friend was struggling to break free from all those triggers. I tried to put myself in their shoes and write a song about starting afresh and finding a new place that’s untouched by the past.
The single comes off your new album Blue Eyed Girls – what’s the story behind the title?
I chose it as a title because I think it can mean so many different things. I’m always hopeful that people who listen to my music can find something of their own lives in the lyrics and in the emotion and colour of the songs. I hope the image of Blue Eyed Girls taps into something personal for anyone listening to this album, whether that’s a daughter, a mother, a friend, a lover or an infatuation. I think the look in someone’s eyes, or the way you choose to interpret that look can be so varied. A moment of eye contact can be a very powerful thing. It could be an experience of less than a second but it might stay with you a lifetime. I hope that the title brings about memories for my audience of some of those powerful moments.
How was the recording and writing process?
The whole album was recorded in a really small basement style set up. It’s kind of tucked away in a dark corner of an old industrial building and once you’re down there you really feel like your separated from the outside world. I wouldn’t call it glamorous but it’s got a really cozy hidden away vibe to it which I loved. It’s easy to lose your sense of time down there and get really locked into the creative process which is fantastic. I had written most of the songs before starting in the studio save for a couple of late additions which came towards the end of the recording process. For this album, it was just me and a brilliant producer, Peter Holz, working on each track over a period of about 6 months including a pretty serious break in the middle to allow for my touring commitments. The process for each track was pretty similar. We’d start with a bare acoustic recording of the song and talk about how we envisaged the end product to sound. From there it was just about layering and experimentation until we felt we’d found the right vibe and colours for each track.
What role does Australia play in your music?
I think it often has a strong influence over the imagery I use in my songwriting. This single is a good example of that. When I’m touring here in Australia there’s often a lot of driving between shows, sometimes on coastal roads. As you move from one show to the next it often feels to me like a new beginning and a fresh start. I also associate the coastline and the ocean with a sense of rejuvenation and revitalization which finds its way into my songs. Marrying imagery of roads and oceans in “Thought You’d Be Around” felt like a natural way to tap into those associations and explore the theme of new beginnings.
What aspect of lost love and heartbreak did you get to explore on this record?
I wanted to look at these themes from different angles and perspectives. In “Thought You’d Be Around” it’s about acceptance and moving on. In Blue Eyed Girls it’s more of an exploration of how feelings and love can change over time. In “Turned to Stone” it’s a search for answers in the aftermath of a breakup.
What made you want to touch on these themes?
I think I write a lot about relationships and heartbreak because they tend to leave such an indelible mark on our emotions and our psyche. Relationships are the things that mean the most to us and the things that can cut us the deepest and I think that will always be referenced in a lot of my songwriting because it evokes such strong emotions.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Sometimes it’s personal experience and sometimes it’s more about trying to place myself in another person’s shoes. Inspiration can really come from anywhere, conversations, memories, books, films, natural landscapes etc. My one rule is that the subject matter has to move me emotionally, make me feel something. This album has songs inspired by travel, addiction, betrayal, infatuation, innocence, love and heartbreak. I hope it can tap into the emotions of my audience and be relatable in some way.
Any plans to hit the road?
Absolutely. I’ll be doing a world tour in support of the album with dates running from March to September and including shows across Australia, North America and Europe.
What else is happening next in Mark Wilkinson’s world?
Well the album tour is the focus right now so I haven’t thought to far ahead of that to be honest. Songwriting is always a big part of what I do though so I’ll always be looking to make time for that and start to think about the next album when the dust settles on the next 6-12 months.