27 May 2016
Meet the artist: Nicholas Marks
2016 is shaping up to be a busy year for the Melbourne-based pianist, composer and producer Nicholas Marks. A recent addition to the roster of AMC's represented artists, Marks thrives when working in multiple roles and contexts, from writing film music to arranging, producing and performing. You can catch Nicholas with his Trio at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival on 10 and 12 June.
From performing festival shows with neo-soul/electronica band 'Hey Frankie', to writing scores for film, new pieces for string quartet and producing his latest solo project, it's clear Nicholas Marks enjoys working in a wide array of musical contexts - whether as leader, collaborator, or sideman.
'I've always enjoyed writing and performing for different projects. It wasn't something I consciously set out to do when I started my career, it's something that has evolved organically. I love the challenge of writing works that are within a particular style, but also enjoy working on music that draws on elements of various styles to create something new', Marks says.
When asked to name his most important works to date, Marks lists his feature film score for Love Your Sister (starring Samuel Johnson and Guy Pearce); his writing and producing with Hey Frankie (Guess Who and Road to Nowhere); a commissioned piece for theatre in which he worked with singer-songwriter Lior; and his work for Village Roadshow Pictures, composing six arrangements for their new logo.
Marks recently returned to Australia after spending 10 weeks overseas, funded through a professional development grant from Creative Victoria.
At this year's Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Marks will be performing two shows with the Nick Marks Trio (with long-time collaborators Simon Starr on double bass and Nick Martyn on drums) on June 10 and 12 at the Riverside Jazz Club, a newly established pop-up venue in the Melbourne Arts Centre. This festival is one of Melbourne's most iconic cultural festivals on the arts calendar, and 2016 promises to be one of the biggest yet, with a line-up including international names such as Robert Glasper, Wayne Shorter, Jose James, Esperanza Spalding, Snarky Puppy, as well as Australian artists Jamie Oehlers, Paul Grabowsky, Andrea Keller, Kristin Berardi, James Muller, Peter Knight, and many others.
The trio context gives Marks a platform for pushing boundaries within an acoustic format. Marks's musical tastes span all genres, and, in preparing his latest body of work for this ensemble, he has focused on creating compositions that meld elements from various styles into cohesive sonic narratives, as well as unique arrangements of jazz standards. Marks admits drawing influences from a wide range of sources from Claude Debussy to Herbie Hancock, Radiohead, Massive Attack, J-Dilla, among others.
Notwithstanding his role as leader, Marks sees the Trio as a democratic format:
'From listening to my favourite trios, it's clear that all members have an equally important role in the direction of the music. Each player brings their unique voice to the stage, and the repertoire provides the platform for real time improvised musical dialogues. For these performances, we will have only a few pre-determined parameters; the rest will happen on stage in the moment.'
'Meet the artist' is a series of introductory articles about the AMC's Represented and Associate artists.
Nicholas Marks - AMC profile
© Australian Music Centre (2016) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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