Blyth musician Mark Deeks releases his instrumental piano album Lightburst on 24th October. We chat with him about inspirations, musical style and eclectic influences.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?
My name is Mark Deeks and I originally come from West Moor in North Tyneside, but now live with my wife, Angela, near Blyth in Northumberland.
What inspired you to first start making music?
I’ve played piano since I was five, so I guess you could say it is in my blood. Making music is like breathing to me, really, it is so automatic.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
It really depends on what kind of music I am making, as I’m involved in some pretty wide-ranging projects. For my new piano solo album Lightburst I guess there are some obvious reference points that people might draw comparison to like Ludovico Einaudi, but then I can also detect influence from artists such as Opeth and some folk music in there as well. I’m also a member of the English black metal band Winterfylleth so my music is nothing if not eclectic!
How would you describe your sound?
Lightburst is all about stripping everything back to just the piano and letting it create sparse, atmospheric music that is designed to reflect different aspects of light. The tracks are all titled in the Old Northumbrian dialect because I’m really interested in music that attempts to represent where it’s from, and are perfect for putting your headphones on, closing your eyes, and letting the chilled out piano paint a picture.
Where do you see yourself fitting into the local music scene?
I must confess I don’t know! I spend all of my time making a living as a function performer, arranger and musical director running my company Music Newcastle that if there are any other artists in the region making the same kind of music I’m not aware of them!
Tell us a bit about your live performances. What can we expect from a gig by you?
My gigs are primarily based around performing material from Lightburst, but also include music from some artists that have had a big influence on my career or who I particularly enjoy playing such as Sigur Ros or Alice In Chains.
Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?
I’m giving a free lunchtime concert at 1pm and 2.15pm on Sunday 30th October in the stunning picture gallery at Bowes Museum, then at Jesmond United Reform Church on Saturday 26th November. At the Jesmond show I will be joined by a violinist and cellist for some of the show.
What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far?
I was particularly proud a number of years ago to conceive a project where Tony Kakko of Finnish metal stars Sonata Arctica came to perform my arrangements of his music with the Inspiration Choir and the Royal Northern Sinfonia orchestra at The Sage Gateshead – that was quite a thrill!
Have there been any major challenges so far in your musical career?
I think the hardest thing is spinning the plates on the different aspects of what I do, be it Music Newcastle, my solo work, my arranging and MD work, being in Winterfylleth, I’ve just finished a PhD… it’s certainly never dull!
What else have you got planned for the future?
Lightburst is also being released as a sheet music book so that other pianists can hopefully enjoy playing the music of the album too. I’ve really enjoyed putting this together and intend to continue to do this for all future albums as well.
Mark plays Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle on Sunday 30th October.