By Frederik Kyhn
VANCOUVER — In this multifaceted and ever-changing digital age, it’s hard to get your music across to people and make it stick. It’s even more difficult if you’re over 30 with material centred around everyday chores and deceased relatives. But singer and guitarist Mark Kozelek has somehow made it work. In such a way that last year saw him touring all over Europe and most of North America in support of his latest album, Carissa. This month, he’ll be bringing his low-ranging and deeply melancholic voice to Canadian soils. Most adolescent musicians would view Kozelek’s long standing music career as a high-octane pipe dream. But Kozelek sees his career as a professional musician as something much more realistic and steady, “It’s not. I just go to work every day like anyone else. I’ve made a career playing music for 23 years. I just like making music.”
By maintaining this steady approach to his craft he seems to have surpassed the aforementioned fast paced dwindling attention spans of a world obsessed with what’s new. His old-school style of songwriting focuses on not much more than a guitar and his voice, a refreshing drink of simplicity in a world inundated with complicated things. Releasing records under an array of denominations, most famously as Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek has steadily and without diminishing quality put out a record every year for the last decade. An approach to releasing material that seems almost impossible, given his rigorous touring schedule. Kozelek is not one for elaborate strategies or painstaking consideration towards the names and associations of his projects, which is reflected in his fluctuating choice of monikers, “It’s just names, doesn’t matter. My next band is going to be called Dylan McCash and the Multi Colored Vinyl-Collectors.”
Kozelek’s aversion to manipulating himself and his music into an over-produced brand bleeds into his approach to songwriting. Here in his stream-of-consciousness lyrical world we might find the answer to his overwhelming success: “I’m an in the moment type of writer. I don’t think in terms of what I’m writing is good or bad or makes sense to anyone else. I just do what comes natural to me.” Such a confident calmness about one’s musical outcome is only achievable with time and practice, and Kozelek has had an abundance in both since his early days as the lead singer of the reputable Red House Painters.
The naturalism in the lyrics on his newest album unfold in the form of stories, like that of his niece’s tragic death, a convicted felon jailed for murdering his wife, and a general interest in existentialism and death. Topics that seem too overwhelmingly intricate to deal with for most are for the ever-contrary Kozelek, completely approachable. “I don’t feel obligated to do anything. These are just events that inspired me.” In short, Kozelek’s in-depth songs about the stuff we all at some point have to deal with, whether in our teens or midway through life, are not to be missed in a live setting.
Mark Kozelek will be playing in Vancouver at Venue on April 11th.BC, British Columbia, Mark Kozelek, Venue