erasing clouds

100 Musicians Answer the Same 10 Questions

Part Fifteen: Mark Kozelek

instigated by dave heaton

Mark Kozelek should need no introduction, but you never know. On recordings by his bands Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, and on his own, he's showcased a style of songwriting and singing that is truly, absolutely his own: stark, patient, hypnotic, and emotionally raw. To be straight about it - Mark Kozelek has made some of the most riveting, haunting music I've ever heard. Through remarkable cover versions, he's also taken an assortment of classic rock and pop songs (by John Denver, Ac/DC, Paul McCartney) and delivered them in his own style - most recently with Sun Kil Moon's contentious (and, to me, genius) album of Modest Mouse covers, Tiny Cities, released on his own record label Caldo Verde.


What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

The creative part - capturing a beautiful piece of music. When I've created something that I feel like sharing.

What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Occasionally, playing live - it's hit or miss with audiences for me lately. Fans seem less invested in listening as they used to be. Occasionally I'm surprised, though, and have a great night, great audience.

What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).

I just signed a Portland artist named Corrina Repp. That's pretty exciting. I'm leaving for a few dates in Canada soon. That's about it.

What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

I opened for The Roots recently. That was the most unusual audience I've ever played for.

In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?

I've been in San Francisco since 1988. I'm inspired all of the time here. The longer I live here, the more memories I have. San Francisco feels haunted to me - the city, my apartment building, the places where I go.

When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?

A complete song? I was flying home from Europe in mid-December and some words came to me. It was a cold, lonely trip and I came home to a quiet house, had a quiet Christmas. A song came to me around that time, that December.

As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?

There's just so much music being made. I'm sure it's all very good, but I don't have the energy to keep up with it. I rarely go out to shows anymore. Can't stand that long.

Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)

My ears are attracted to unusual sounds - sounds I don't hear a lot. classical music, jazz, etc. When I hear this kind of music, which is usually in a taxi, I really focus, get lost, because it's new to me - chords and sounds and rhythm patters I don't often hear.

Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Hard question... I really don't know. I love Neil Young and several other artists from the past. Cat Stevens was great. New artists I like are Stephin Merritt, Will Oldham, Isaac Brock.

What's the saddest song you've ever heard?

"Main Street" - Bob Seger

To check out the rest of the Q&As, click here.

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