Mark Lowndes. Musician.
“I grew up with my Mum and our music was all Motown; Motown and a bit of Reggae. Cause Reggae’s got soul.
Then I would get to go to see my Dad once a month and as soon as I get into his car the Beatles would be playing. I’m thinking what is this? I’d say “These guys have got no rhythm Dad!” And he’d be like “Rhythm? Mate, this is rhythm.” and he’d put on Police and Sting. “Listen to Sting, that’s a voice” he’d say. And I’d be like “Marvin Gay’s a voice Dad”.
So as a kid I got to appreciate more and more what music was, and the universal language that it is. It didn’t make much sense to me until after school to be honest, when I got to appreciate, not just black music, but that there was so much more to it than a melody. There’s actually so much heart in a lot of the songs I was listening to from my Dad and my Mum. Somehow they infused together to influence or inspire me to write.
My favourite artists are Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, no doubt. They both had a message and they’ve moved with conviction. I think that’s rubbed off with me as I’ve figured my way through life. I really do like that Bob Marley had a message and that he was very set on it. He wrote good music, and Stevie Wonder was all about love, and peace.
And man, he can sing!”
“If I were to put a genre on my music, I would call it acoustic soul. It’s songs written straight from the guitar.
When I’m writing the songs a lot of them don’t come with too much thought. A lot of people like to freestyle but for me its about flow. And I can’t help but write about real life things. It’s so hard for me to sing about, you know, all that “hey baby girl” stuff. I cringe when I listen to that stuff cause I think there’s so much more to sing about! So much more to write about! But that’s what’s on our radio stations and that’s how our kids are being educated. We’re at risk of becoming a dumbed down society – that’s the way I see it. I’ve seen the power of music through these artists who are on a world stage, they’ve got more power than politicians! Kids listen to them, watch how they speak, watch how they dress, and all of a sudden they wanna be like them. I’m looking at my sons thinking “heeeeck no you’re not going to be like these guys” and they say “but everyone loves them Dad”. That’s the power of TV and radio, it’s constantly in their heads. Now I’m like ok, how do I counter that? Sometimes I think, oh man I’m just Mark Lowndes, I live on the South side of Brisbane and I’m not even on radio, how do I counter that? But I’m like you know what – stop complaining, just run your lane, and do it your best.
That’s what my upcoming album is about. I know I don’t have a massive machine backing me, but I know I’ve got my whole heart in it, and once that passion and that drive is there – you can’t really stop me. I may not get to sell out the Wembley Stadium, but I know I can inspire my next door neighbour; I can do that.
I’ve done a lot of man-pleasing in the past – pleasing others instead of just listening to my heart and saying “NO!”. I’ve gotten sick of coming off stage, or putting a song out, and going “I’m not even happy with that. I’m not even satisfied with that”. My Mum would say to me when I was young (it’s funny how these things pop up as you’re starting to figure out life), she would say “if you don’t move the way your heart wants to move, then you’re a hypocrite”. I know I’ve got good intentions, I know I wanna make a difference, then mate… why aren’t I moving the way my heart moves! So now my songs have to have weight; I have to give something honest and truthful. I think of my sons and I want them to go “Man, Dad was not just a good singer, he had a message, he had a story to tell”.
“I still remember when my parents split; they split underneath the washing line. They had a big argument and my Mum was holding my sister. They said to me “pick – who you going with?” That was hard.
I ended up going with Mum.
My Mum is Samoan and my Dad is European (French/English). I don’t really look Samoan though. I’d meet other Samoans and it’d always go the same. “Oh what nationality are you?” they’d ask. And I say “Samoan” but they’d still call me palagi, which means white person. Even when we were playing footy, I’d get the ball and they’d be like “ah look at the palagi run, look at the palagi run!” So I had an identity crisis, I didn’t know what I was.
I was born in Brisbane, Australia so I asked my Mum where we came from and started to research the Island of Samoa. I got to really appreciate and love my culture, especially as I got into the last years of High School. We were in a cultural dancing group and I got to learn a lot through that. I can’t speak fluent Samoan, I can understand it, but I would not speak with the Elders – cause I would get mocked. It would be embarrassing. My Mum can speak fluent Samoan, and she speaks English very well. I find her really inspiring, she’s done very well for herself as a single parent, studying Criminology and being a Psychologist – she’s all about breaking stereotypes. She’s been a big role model for my sister and I.
I think being an artist, or maybe just being a human, sometimes demons get you when you’re not looking. You think of things from the past, your childhood, and you don’t even know where they’ve come from. A lot of things I believe for me have come from me not having a Dad. Some people can get over it, they can just move on with life, but me… I wasn’t like that. It was a BIG void in my heart not having a Dad. I’d see him maybe once a month. Then eventually it was once every three months. He probably didn’t even know I had un-forgiveness in my heart. But I know there are two sides to every story. See I grew up with my Mum, so my Mum’s a champion to me. But being married now, I understand both sides need to work hard. I can’t just blame my Dad, in fact I can even blame my Mum or my Dad. That’s their life and unfortunately our family separated.
Not having a Dad and then becoming a Dad, it’s like I’ve got nothing. I had to figure it out. I had to think about what kind of man I was, what it meant to be the head of the house, what it meant to lead my sons. I knew a lot of work had to go on on the inside. There’d be times I’d fall back and say “Oh that’s cause I didn’t have a Dad”. But na mate, that’s a cop out! You’re old enough now, you do it yourself, grow up, and take ownership. I had to really get that into my head. And that was hard. It was a good feeling though, to go “This is me! I’ve got two sons, I’ve got a wife; I’ve got my own little tribe and I have to lead here”. My Mum was a great leader for my sister and I, and I can take from her story. I look at Samoa and everything I’ve learnt from my culture too.
You just have to draw from the positives and use the dark moments to make the light shine brighter.”
Shot on Mamiya C330 + Nikon F100. Film stock Kodak TriX 400.
Developed + Scanned by RICHARD PHOTO LAB