In Conversation with Mark Arkinson
by Taylor Seamans / Music 8 days ago
Mark Arkinson

Q: Tell me a bit of background about how you got into music.

Mark: I was super into music my whole entire life. I was really into rock as a kid. My dad played every instrument, I played the drums growing up and then just taught myself piano. And then, no one wants to say they came from dubstep but I definitely was really into dubstep in eighth grade through high school. I moved to Santa Barbara, it was a completely new place for me. I started making beats and made a ton of friends. SoundCloud introduced me to the anime side of music, and that’s how I got into the style I am into now.

Q: How did anime lead into you developing your own style?

Mark: I used to join these Skype calls with these guys, and we’d watch all this sad anime. It was super weird when I first started, but then I started doing it and now I have anime posters all over my room. It all just kinda came from that; it’s all just based on things that anime has, a lot of sad stuff— like high school love stories pretty much. I just tried to incorporate how that made me feel and put it into music.

Q: Describe your music style  in a few words.

Mark: I always say “beat oriented music.” I’ve definitely taken a more house style lately but that’s just because of what I’ve been listening to.

Q: You have minimal vocals in your songs, more vocal chops if anything. When you’re building your songs, is it about the beat or do you have the voices in mind too?

Mark: I definitely incorporate the voices very soon. That usually makes a track. Vocals are like a cheat code to making your song sound good. So I’ll put down chords and immediately chop up vocals and try to make it fit. The vocals are from songs I’ve done with singers in the past and I just keep resampling them over and over again. I use the same 5 a cappellas for every song I’ve ever made.

Q: You have interesting titles on your songs, such as “we can split these nachos, i probably can’t finish them by myself anyways, idk.” How do you come up with these?

Mark: Most of these are based on real life situations. For that one, I was really drunk and I wasn’t sure what was happening and I really liked this girl. We went and got nachos or I sort of guilt tripped her into getting them with me, and we shared them and then she wouldn’t hang out with me weeks later. So then I made that song. The track titles are exactly what they mean pretty much.

Q: You have a somewhat electronic influence to your style. Are you recording in your own instruments or just using software ones?

Mark: It’s pretty much all done on my computer except for random percussion, whistles, or just random background noise. I have a cheap microphone to do all that, but all the pianos and other things are just done on my computer.

Q: Do you have “go to” drum kits, synths, and other sounds or is each song its own experiment?

Mark: I have the same kick drums I like, same shakers and high hats, but if it isn’t the exact sound I’m looking for I can create my own. But I definitely try to go for the same sound every time.

Q: October Weekend is your biggest song; did you expect it to be this big when you made it?

Mark: Um, well no. When I originally made it, I mean even now, it’s just a giant loop, there’s not much changing. But when I was making it, I told myself this is the most beautiful intro I’ve ever made. And to this day, I still think that, and I still get comments on that intro. But no, I definitely have other songs I think deserve to be more popular than that one.

Q: You like to have a break between the build and drop, how much do you think about adding this?

Mark: I think about it all the time. I do that in I think every one of my songs. I try to have a giant silent break because I feel like it’s really dynamic. I almost hate it when other people don’t do that.

Q: Do you do collaborations?

Mark: I actually have almost no collaborations; I do very few in general. It’s mostly because I have a very weird workflow. I will sit down and do it in one night. I don’t spend multiple days working on things. They’re all just quick little ideas that I manage to get out. The only one I have is with Resotone. I was a huge fan for years, and I messaged him and said, “This is the greatest song I’ve ever heard.” And he said, “Thanks man, we should work together sometime.” So I think that’s my only collaboration.

Q: You said you’ll just make a song in one night, how does this creative process go? Do you have the idea in your head, or do you sit down and think of something?

Mark: It’s either or. Sometimes I just sit down and it works out. Usually when I upload something I have an idea in my head and I rush home really quickly cause I’m like I have to get this out. And then either it turns out how I wanted it to or it doesn’t.

Q: Do you have specific artists who inspire who?

Mark: Right now, definitely Petit Biscuit. And then one of my top 5 favorite artsits Owsey, he’s even switched to more of an electronic style. He was doing deep house, I guess you’d call it — I don’t get too far into genres. But it slowly grew on me. It’s sort of garagey as well. I’ve been listening to him non-stop. As well as Olli, he’s a super close friend and one of my favorite producers. He does music all across the board.

Q: Where do you see your music going?

Mark: Music is just a hobby. I meet a lot of people who think I should do other things with it, and you could but I don’t have time. I was going to school and working and trying to fit music into that as well. It takes a lot of time and work to make a career out of it. It was a hobby from the start, and I said for years I don’t want to sell my music. All my stuff should always be free to download. I just want to do it for fun.

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