Mark with the Sea

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Mark with the Sea

Marc Oswin is a man of many talents. He’s a graphic designer, co-owns his own record label Heart of the Rat Records, has many music projects and happens to be partial to one day creating cupcake stands with old vinyls. We had a chat to the musician about his projects and Mark with the Sea’s new release.
Hey Marc, thanks for taking the time out to chat to Forte magazine, how are you and what have you been up to?
I’m well. Ridiculously busy with musical endeavours, running a record label, work and life in general.
We saw you shared the review of your new release, do you tend to pay much attention to the critics and what people say?
To be honest, I see reviews as a necessary evil. To try and generate interest in releases, you need people to write about it, then publish those writings in a way that people who care about music will see it and then seek out those releases. I’ve read scathing reviews in the past (not of my music) and I just wonder what the reviewer hoped to achieve by doing that. Perhaps they wanted to prove that they had a great vocabulary containing negative adjectives. It can be so damaging to the artist, for both sales and fan potential as well as confidence. You can be negative without being a jerk about it. Having said that, thanks to Forte for reviewing the album. It was a ripper, haha.
Heart of the Rat Records have been going for a little while now, but what made you want to start it?
Mark with the Sea’s album was definitely a catalyst for the label starting up. We also wanted to create an outlet for friends and like-minded artists to release their music and try and push it further than they may be able to by self-releasing. It wasn’t to make money, that’s for sure.
By no surprise you’re quite a lover of records, but do you miss the old days where there was a lot more excitement over buying a record than compared to now where everything is so accessible?
It’s interesting because I’ve never really lost that excitement over new releases. I worked in music retail when I was younger and it was all about charts and people coming in to pick up a copy of their favourite artist’s album on the day it came out (or trying to sneak a copy before it was meant to come out). That’s why we wanted to include as much value with our vinyl pre-order as we could, as we do with all of our Heart of the Rat releases, to try and bring back that sense of excitement.
Was there any questioning as to whether or not you were going to release When The Blood Runs Dry on vinyl?
There was no doubt that WTBRD was going to be released on vinyl. I don’t get into the bucket list concept, but one thing I always had to achieve in life was releasing an album on vinyl. We’ll never sell all of the copies, but at least we can make some hipster layered cupcake stands out of the beautiful transparent, blood red vinyl left over and try and sell them at markets.
Do you have a favourite record at home that you cherish?
Not really. One of my latest pick ups was the special edition version of Father John Misty’s, I Love You, Honeybear, which has a pop-up in the gatefold jacket and plays the title track when opened. He’s a personal favourite of mine at the moment. So much charisma, wit, sarcasm and sense of irony with the songs to back it up.
Recently you interviewed The Dead Salesmen for Mess + Noise, how was that experience?
It was brilliant. Hap Hayward (Dead Salesmen vocalist/lyricist) is such a cool, funny and intelligent guy. He’s been a huge supporter of Ballarat songwriters and an inspiration to many of us. The Dead Salesmen are just as popular today as they were at their peak. I think that speaks volumes for their music, the honesty and directness of Hap’s lyrics and the pure likeability of everyone in the band.
That serves as another experience you’ve had in a different section of the music industry, but was there ever any other career path for you?
In my day job I’m a graphic designer/web developer. Aaron and I also work together in this business, which allows us to squeeze in as much record label stuff as possible when required. As I mentioned earlier, I also worked in music retail for a number of years. I worked for a life insurance company in Scotland too. To this day, I still have no idea what I did during my time there. The highlight was inventing a game called “Thimbleball” with a fellow contractor.
Thanks again for the chat, is there anything you’d like to add before we finish up?
Thanks, Forte, for supporting regional music and my musical endeavours over the years. Keep on keepin’ on. Hope to see everyone at the Bridge Hotel Castlemaine on Friday April 24.
Release: When the Blood Runs Dry is available via all good retailers.
When & Where: The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine – April 24