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  • Mark Macaluso

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    • @Mark Macaluso is a lyricist and vocalist, from Fort Lee, New J,ersey USA. read our interview with him.

      Member(s): Mark Macaluso



    1. Fort Lee! I'm actually from Bergen county as well. Crazy small world. Now I have to ask you, have you ever been inspired by the hustle and bustle of the city? Especially with you having it right outside your window. Do you think there's a big difference in music being made on the East Coast versus the West Coast? Where do you think you fit in?


    I have been directly inspired to write some poetry in the past while i was out in the city.  Mostly when I see so many people in one place like a train station or park and I try to remember that every one of them has their own story just like I do.  Some beautiful, some tragic, most a little of both.   I can’t really speak to how different music is made in different places like east vs. west coast.   I hear something that I like and I find inspiring and it doesn’t really matter where it comes from.  I can say that the lifestyle of NYC is definitely a theme in my own work.  I write a lot about slowing down, appreciating the time we have, with the hustle and bustle of the city I often feel like people forget to do that until it is too late and that makes me sad to think about.


    2. So you started writing music in your 20's. Most people I personally know were practically born with a guitar in their hand, but myself too, I just picked it up seriously and I am 22. Have you always been interested in music? Was there a particular song/performance that made you say "Woah! Maybe I can do that too."?


    I have definitely always loved music but I honestly thought it was something outside of my skill set when I was growing up.  I took piano lessons as a kid and I was not exactly good at it.  I have tried a couple of times to learn some guitar and every time I do I am more impressed by the people who do it.  I feel like a fish out of water when I try.  But writing was always something I enjoyed.  I like to play with words and themes.  When I got older I decided I was going to actively try to apply that to music so I started to seek out musicians to collaborate with.  I think I continue to grow a lot even now in terms of graduating from obvious song structures to more experimental and creative ones.  I wouldn’t say there is one song or performance that made me think I could do it.  I think it was always inside, I just needed to find it.  Although I am constantly amazed and even jealous of other musicians when they write something that just floors me.  I always wish I had written it myself.


    3. Who are some of your favorite poets? Do you draw most inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media? Though the artists you are inspired by are basically poets. Have you heard Bjork's new album? I think it's actually the first time I personally understood her intrinsically. Would recommend if you haven't already..


    Like you said, since I am a writer/lyricist first most of my favorite artists are the one who have something to say or say something normal in a unique way.  I listed Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) among my inspirations because I truly admire the things they say or the way they say them.  Maynard is definitely a pessimist and much of his subject matter is social commentary (mostly negative) but he expresses his truths brilliantly and I tend to agree with a lot of them on a personal level, it is a lot about what he says.  Ben Gibbard on the other hand can turn something totally mundane like a trip to the grocery store into an amazing song with wonderful imagery.  A few years ago a friend of mine described him as "A Poet and A Scientist" and that struck a chord with me because that is exactly how I would want to be described.  Bjork is like my textbook definition of a true artist, everything she does is art.  Most of her songs are also accompanied by amazing, thoughtful artistic music videos which totally enhance the experience (That is true about Maynard too although they can be kind of terrifying).  When I want to write but I feel uninspired I can put on Bjork, Tool, Death Cab, and suddenly feel inspired.  There are a number of other artists and songs that do that for me too.   Hold on by Tom Waits.  Grey Street by DMB.  Otherwise I try to find inspiration in any corner that I can possibly find it.  Literature, movies, you name it.  One of the songs I posted on here (Outside) was directly inspired by The Brothers Karamazov which is a Russian Epic Novel. 


    4. Being a vocalist and lyricist, how do you go about writing a song? Do you have a melody in your head and then have your collaborators write music for it? Do you use songs in your head to describe what you want? Because I just listened to "Confrontation" and I got a Smiths vibe; so do you say "Oh I want some passive aggressive guitars under this moody melody"? 


    It honestly varies so much from song to song.   Sometimes I write with a melody in my mind and I try to describe it to my writing partner(s) by giving them something comparable or showing them whatever it was that originally inspired me to write so I can try to get them into a similar creative space.  Other times they come up with music and I write from scratch directly to it (which is probably the easiest since there is already a musical skeleton).  Sometimes I take music and realize that it is a good fit for something I have already written and then I go back and adapt my original lyrics to the new music and then we go back and fill in the blanks together.  There really isn't a single method.  The song Silo which I posted on here was music that my partner wrote 20+ years ago and he always wanted to add words.  The next song we did (One More Tonight) was something that went from completely non-existent to recorded and posted on our Youtube within a week's time.  Confrontation was a song my partner came up with and he called it that as a placeholder title and I just ran with it when writing the lyrics because I knew he chose it for a reason, even if only subconsciously.  Once we are sitting and recording I might say, hey, let's add some strings or can we make that guitar sound a bit darker or I think this would work really well with a more upbeat tempo, etc.  Each song is an organism that grows in its own way. 


    5. We have a lot of collaborators here on Songstuff, but a lot of people are hesitant about working with other people because of clashing opinions, deadlines, etc. What advice can you give for working with other people? Also, how do you advertise yourself so that people know you are completely reliable? What do you do when you run into problems? 


    I haven't personally done any collaborations through Songstuff (yet?) but I think collaboration is honestly my favorite part of the creative process.   However, just like with anything else, sometimes you mesh with people and sometimes it isn't meant to be.  Art is risk, you just have to be open about what you are looking to accomplish.  I was pretty active on a site called Bandhub which is all online collaboration.  With the way it is set up you were never going to have really polished products and that site has a lot more in the way of covers than original music but the focus was on the collaboration and community part of it.  I sang on a cover of Round Here by the Counting Crows on there and it was me, a guy from Virginia,  and then one from Australia, one from Italy, one from Canada, One from France all playing on one song together.  These are people from all over the world that I would never have met, let alone played music with if it weren't for the site.  I think that is really awesome.  Sites like this and and Bandhub and Apps like Vampr give us the opportunity to find people we wouldn't have found even just a few years ago.  When it comes to how to manage the risk I would say that it really depends on what your goals are for your music.  If you are totally focused on signing a main stream record deal it is probably best to be super selective with who you work with.  But if you are like me and you just love the creative side of it then you can be more willing to take risks.  I also think that you have to develop a reputation and let that speak for you.  If you a reliable and talented then that will get around.  Different people have different goals and priorities so you just have to try and find the people who best fit into that.  Even some of the greatest bands of all time didn't get it totally right but the art they made in the middle of it all is what we will remember them by.  Take the risk. 


    6. I didn't mean to type this many questions! But you really have some great stuff going on. What can we expect from you within the next 6 months? Any releases planned? Future gigs? Also, please feel free to add anything that I may have missed, or even an album recommendation! Thank you so much!


    I really don't have anything specific planned.  I have only been working on Paradise of Exiles since September and we already have put 9 songs on our Youtube and have a couple more in different stages of Pre-production.  We have been self producing everything so one of the next steps would be to get some more professional production on a couple of the songs and then who knows?!  I also still have some other songs that I have worked on with the “A Quiet Complex” project but most of those are still in working stages.  For now I am just trying to enjoy the process. 

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