Mark Mallman Q&A

June 3, 2019
A creative space should feel casual, like the basement in "That '70s Show."

“The music is its own reward. Music cannot become money. It cannot become fame. It cannot turn back time and change the mind of the boy or girl who called you ugly in the third grade. Music is an energy like light. If you let music lead, and let music be an energy, there is a possibility that other doors will open.”

How do you create an environment where you can find inspiration?

A creative space should feel casual, like the basement in “That ’70s Show.” It should be a space where you can make mistakes without judgement. Judgement is the termite of creativity. Listen to your body, it is distant from the ego. The environment of creativity will feel calm in the body. If a clock makes you tense, remove the clock. My back gives me all the signals. Most importantly, the mind comes after the body. Don’t let the mind make creative choices that tense you up. Don’t make art in a space that doesn’t enthrall the inner child.

Do you have rituals that you use to nurture creativity?

I’m lucky that I’m never not in the creative mode. I’ve worked on my next album or songwriting almost every day since I was fifteen years old. Some days I am composing for a client or doing the day to day upkeep of running the band, the van, etc. Performance essentials. I love it all. I love every tiny damp corner of my career. If you don’t enjoy the process, the product will be garbage. Some folks have rituals to get them amped for work and that’s super great. I guess any rituals I have are finding peace outside of my creative space. Those are: Breathe. Fitness. Nature. Sleep. Love. Movies. Donuts.

What do you enjoy the most about being an artist?

The manifestation of joy where once was a void. Traveling is also wonderful. Music has brought me to Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, the top of the Hollywood Sign, Statue of Liberty, The White House, Disneyland, Graceland, White Sands New Mexico, and gobs of other places. I still need to see The Alamo. Music people are fun folks. We love to laugh and share stories. We aren’t motivated by material things, but will endure great struggles for free pizza. The adventure is never beginning or ending. The adventure is constant. It crosses the expanse of the mind through endless landscapes, and comes to life from the body to open minds and bring hearts together. Also, I love the hairstyles.

What do you enjoy the least?

I love my life and the doors that have opened to enable my spirit to soar. A person wouldn’t be wrong if they sited social climbers and back stage con artists. Bottom feeders. Validation hungry, fame obsessed, substance abusing narcissists. Cocaine. Competitive egos. Soulless number crunchers. Selfish braggarts who don’t speak from the heart. Perpetuated myths by big business of self-destruction and isolation. However, those things exist in ever career. I keep my focus on positivity and I surround myself with people who lift me up. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with very little negativity in my experience. My drummer says, “If it doesn’t make you happy or money, it’s not worth your time.” Life is a gift. Celebrate!

What advice do you give somebody who wants to get into music?

The music is its own reward. Music cannot become money. It cannot become fame. It cannot turn back time and change the mind of the boy or girl who called you ugly in the third grade. Music is an energy like light. If you let music lead, and let music be an energy, there is a possibility that other doors will open. Music is not a key to open the door. Music can only be music. It can shine on elements that may bring good fortune or bad. Hard work, risk taking, and persistence are a few things that can make a music career take form. Accept that luck is a major force in this game. Be ready for luck. Don’t expect luck to open the door for you. You must open the door when luck presents itself. Luck is always presenting itself, but you may not see it if you are not ready. Let the music lead. It is a flashlight in the cave of reality. Reality isn’t real. Find your peace and trust your hard work. It’s not your position to be the critic, therefore do not criticize your work. Create without judgement. Express your truth. Ignore the haters, they are only projecting fears from within. Follow the sounds of your heart. This all sounds like hippie dippy BS doesn’t it? Guess what? That’s where faith comes in. Have faith in your vision. Smile in the face of adversity. Believe in yourself even if all odds state that it’s impossible. You are the conduit. Keep the channel clear. The music is its own reward. Success is irrelevant.

When did you decide you wanted to write a book?

A few summers ago. I saw a need for a book without triggers. With songwriting, I write songs I would want to hear in the van or in a club. I translated that naturally into a book. There are few self-help books written by hands on musicians on how it can be used medicinally. Playlists are prescriptions. This book is a meditation on finding paths to joy without being too abstract or how to manual. Stories become inspiration to actions more. Think about when you buy IKEA furniture, who the heck wants to read that stupid manual? It’s confusing. Finding peace through guided meditation allows us to be instead of seeking. There is a quote that says, “One cannot want happiness and be happy at the same time.” Music brings us to the moment. It creates.

How do you choose the ideas you follow-up on?

I recommend reading Wassily Kandinsky’s “Concerning The Spiritual In Art.” If you are afraid of the word spiritual, you need to start at the beginning again. With the exception that we might be living in a computer simulation, we are spirits. The spirit world is where art comes from. Sometimes things don’t make sense until they exist. It is important to recognize surrealism. Lobster Telephone represents the power of an abstract analogy. To normalize something is to suck away its spirit. Consider the consciousness of the atom.

What are your all-time favorite Desert Island albums?

  • Brian Eno: Music For Films
  • Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain
  • Arcade Fire: The Funeral
  • Fela Kuti: With Ginger Baker Live!
  • Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures