Interview: Mark Houston

We enjoyed listening to your song “Deserve You”. What is the story behind the song and how did you create/write it? Also, what inspired the song title?
Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
When writing my upcoming record “The Coast,” I wanted to explore feelings and emotions by creating stories and characters. Whether experienced personally or observed in art or media, I’ve found that I am fascinated by human relationships, and this is a common theme throughout the album. In “Deserve You” I focused on the feeling of self-doubt, and wrote from the perspective of a someone who pushes others away as a result of their insecurities. I tried to come up with something clever for the song’s title – the name is meant to be a contradiction that takes on a different meaning after listening to the song.

If you had to describe your sound, how would you do so? Furthermore, what artists (or other sources) do you cite as influences?
I like to describe my music as “thoughtful storytelling blended with guitar-driven melodies and organic soundscapes.” Overall though, I’d say that my sound is most inspired by the alternative, indie, folk, and rock scenes. I listen to a whole bunch of music from all sorts of genres, and I think as a result I’ve become pretty adventurous when writing music too. For me, I find that I’m most drawn to artists and records that change things up from song to song and don’t necessarily stick to one genre, so I’ve tried my best to take on that mindset. One commonality between all my music is the guitar – I started playing as a young kid, and because I am so comfortable with the instrument it usually becomes the backbone to most of my songs. I tend to reach for the acoustic guitar first when I have a new idea, and I like to create layers and textures with electric guitar, which I think lends to a more organic feel. Some artists that have been big inspirations for me are Steven Wilson, Death Cab for Cutie, Lucy Rose, Radiohead, Radical Face, The Pineapple Thief, Devin Townsend, and City and Colour.

What have been career highlights so far? And what is on your bucket list that you’d want to achieve?
In pursuing music I’ve been fortunate to have met some really great people, and lucky to have had some pretty cool opportunities. In college I played in a band called Traveler of Home with some good friends of mine, many of whom are featured on my new record. During that time is when I had my first real introduction to the Pacific North West music scene – we got to play at venues and festivals around Washington state, and recorded a record with producer/engineer Jimmy Hill at Amplified Wax Recording Studio here in Spokane, WA. As soon as I began writing for my new album, I knew I wanted to work with Jimmy again. He’s a genius in terms of sound design, and he’s a really fun guy who understands an artist’s vision and knows how to make it happen. Although I recorded most of the album myself in my apartment, my buddy Luke Westermeyer recorded the drums and percussion in the studio’s huge live room, and then Jimmy mixed and mastered the tracks. I pushed myself a lot as a musician and vocalist while creating the record, and both Luke and Jimmy really helped bring the songs to life. I can’t wait to share the full record on July 16th, and I’m especially excited to play it live as a full band once it’s safe to do so! I’ve also started writing the next one.

If you could be the main support for any living artist, who would that be for and why? Alternatively, what would be your dream live booking?
Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been listening to English musician Steven Wilson and his various projects. He’s definitely made a big impact on my musical taste and it would be a dream to play alongside him! In addition, Lucy Rose, Death Cab for Cutie, Radical Face, and City and Colour were all inspirations for me while recording my new record, and it would be incredible to share the stage with any one of them.

What artists have you been listening to? Additionally, who should others be listening to?
There’s so much great music coming out right now! My drummer Luke’s band Jacklando just released their EP “Two Faces” last year which is very good. The new Glass Animals record is awesome, and Steven Wilson’s new album “THE FUTURE BITES” is really great. The Pineapple Thief’s “Versions of the Truth” is excellent. I’ve also been enjoying Polish artist Mariusz Duda’s music a lot – he’s released three new albums under a few different projects over the last year, they are all wonderful.

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