Mark Mills is a one-man positive dance machine. Welding analog beats and booty-popping bass to synth-pop flourishes, the Calgary/Vancouver songwriter has proven adept at creating infectious jams, all the while imploring the crowd to rage like there is no tomorrow.
Can you tell me how the idea for your recent 7” Celebrate/Liberate came about?
“[“Celebrate”] was an idea that I had had after this show I played in Calgary and there’s this middle aged guy and he came up to me after the show and he was pretty drunk. He said to me, “I usually don’t like gays but I think you’re alright!’ It blew my mind because from his reference point and his perspective, he thought he was being progressive by saying that. There were so many layers of stupidity in a way, but it made me realize how common that is and how hurtful that would have been, even being straight, it was offensive. So from there, that kinda got me thinking about a lot of things.
So the track “Celebrate” came from celebrating what gets us excited and celebrating what we’re uniquely passionate about. To do a booty dance track, I wanted all the homophobic bros in the room, if I could redflag or draw them out from the woodwork, if you will, that was that track. What’s gonna make someone feel uncomfortable if they’re not particularly accustomed or open to people putting themselves out there and expressing themselves?
What are some things that people should be celebrating?
“That’s tough to generalize. Everyone is going to have their own inspiration and passion but some fundamental things to celebrate would be – people, personal connections in our lives that are sincere and authentic. Being kind and considerate, that’s something to celebrate.Going to the market and getting a local apple when it’s just prime harvest season and sitting there and eating that apple and enjoying, I think that’s something to celebrate too, the abundance and beauty of nature. I could get down with a celebration of that for sure.”
So with that in mind, what about “Liberate”?
I was living in Vancouver at the time when I wrote that song and that one was inspired by having a conversation with a man on a bus who lived in the Hastings-Sunrise area for 40 years, his story and how gentrification changed his life. The place he grew up in, which was affordable, got completely switched around from a property development perspective and jacked the rates, but also at the same time using this hip independent artist aesthetic in the way they market it. So now this man’s homeless because he couldn’t afford to live in the building that he had been living in. So that was “Liberate”, it came from this place. Obviously for myself, coming from a perspective of privilege but still hearing that story, especially being a young artist living in the neighbourhood…so just the contrast of the way I disagree with those parts of city development but at the same time I perpetuate and contribute to. It’s not my intention but by nature of lifestyle. The counter-corporate approach to living.”
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