Some of us are lured by a melody and catchy beat, but for others it goes deeper. James Mark has always been moved by the power of music to tell a story. He grew up listening to renowned communicators like Paul Kelly and Johnny cash – and listening to Mark’s own songs, modern day influences like Ed Sheeran, are also very apparent in his style.

“Yes, definitely the story telling!” Says Mark. “With Paul Kelly and Ed Sheeran it’s also the powerful emotions I feel in their vocals”.

You say you wrote your first song at 17 only a couple of weeks after teaching yourself guitar. Is music in your blood?

“I made a small mistake in that bio. I started when I had just turned 18 as I got a guitar for my birthday. My uncle and two cousins are good musicians. I got into music by learning drums at 13 to jam with my best mate.”

How did you feel, the first time you played your music live to an audience?

“I was pretty nervous, but I didn’t reveal at the time that they were my songs. I wanted to see peoples reactions to the songs themselves. I was also scared they’d judge me.”

When writing a song, do you like to start with the lyrics first, rather than music? Or doesn’t it matter?

“It doesn’t generally matter. If it works it works sort of thing; but most of my favourite originals have started with a melody. I would just start singing or humming without any solid lyrics. The lyrics and guitar will then just build around them as the song naturally progresses.”

Any amusing anecdotes of things that haven’t always gone to plan when performing?

“Nothing too major…
In my first year I played the first 45 minutes with the front of house speakers turned off and only the fold back speaker turned on. One of the patrons kept telling me to ‘TURN IT UP!’ – and I was like ‘I HAAAVE!’ After, I found out why, but made up some lame excuse.

The below track is from Mark’s current album, All About You.





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K Mak

K Mak is an interesting name for a Cello player. In fact it may be almost too informal for a Cello player if formality was K Mak’s style. Luckily it isn’t. Fun, bright and breezy is K Mak’s style. Rather than going the typical classical route, K Mak has created a unique classical pop fusion, which conjures up memories of artists like Kate Bush and Toni Basil.

“Toni Basil – I had to look her up!” Says K Mak. “Glad I did – thank you.

As for the fusion, it was born when I went to do some post-grad study in cello, but got distracted by the production and composition subjects. I think some strong feelings I had at the time needed and outlet and I guess they got one!”


“Archie Roach! At the Woodford Closing Ceremony. Also, James Cruickshank from the Cruel Sea. He’s no longer with us but his music blows me away. Check it out.

I also LOVE playing in my string quartet, Angel Strings.”


Sort of. I get that it’s their baby – usually! I know that sometimes I don’t see their perspective until down the track. So I try not to worry too much if I don’t feel on the same page. That’s now. It’s taken me a little while. There are definitely times I feel frustrated and so, I’m sure, do they – but I learn so much from working with other people: musically, professionally and personally, that it’s all super worth while. It’s also surprising how often I actually don’t even end up hearing the final product!


I can. Playing for Kanye West when he supported U2 on their 2007 Australian tour. An all girl string section was to be had. Most of the day was spent on hair and make up with about twenty minutes of rehearsing. I got a bit girlied out so stepped outside for a bit and ended up chatting to one of the roadies. When I returned to the dressing room twenty minutes later the girls were all hyped up. ‘Kathrynnnn!’ they squealed ‘You missed Bono! He was in heeeeere! And he was soooo cool!’ ‘Oh yeah’, I feigned nonchalance. ‘The roadie was cool too!’


Single launch. I’m putting together what I think will be a really interesting show at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Sunday the 5th November. My band: cello, violin, drums, keys, voice and laptop, will be on at 4.30pm, with Julia Rose playing at 3.30pm. We’ll be on the Turbine Platform. And it’s free!


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Little did Delta Goodrem know in 2003 as she stormed the Australian and international charts with her debut album Innocent Eyes, what a life changing impact she was having on a young teen from Auburn in Sydney. Blown away by Goodrem’s music, Frances Castley wanted to emulate her. She credits this early introduction to music for providing the “much needed soul therapy” she needed throughout her teenage years.

“I think Delta epitomised who I wanted to be when I grew up. She was an amazing singer and great pianist and I idolised this. I loved to sing and play piano. I used to imagine myself being like her. I also found her music to be so pure and authentic which is something that to this day I still cherish. I endeavour to deliver music that is pure and authentic to me. Her music makes me feel things and that’s what I want my music to do.”

What do you mean when you say that it provided much needed soul therapy in your teens?

“I had a complicated upbringing. My mum had an abusive boyfriend for many years who was a drug user and in and out of jail a lot. I remember a lot of pain and struggle that I had to watch my mum go through, which was also painful for me. By my teens this man was finally no longer a part of our lives, but my mum owned two Thai restaurants one of which I ran by myself. I found myself dealing with pain from my past manifesting itself through depression, and also running a restaurant full time while also being in high school which comes with a set of its own issues. Music was my only outlet. At first I just kept it to myself, but when YouTube came about I saw it as a good opportunity to see if I was any good.”

Was it hard to make the cross from performing to people on YouTube to your live performances?

“ I don’t remember it being too hard. My first live performances were in high school in music class then at assembly. I think I had gained enough confidence through the feedback that I got from YouTube. It gave me enough courage to get in front of my peers. It was nerve-wracking for sure, but exciting.”

You have a new single out called: Don’t Get It. Can you tell us about this?

“This song has been in the works for a couple of years. It’s about a certain relationship that brought out all my insecurities. I suffered a lot throughout this relationship and didn’t know how or if I could end it. I would use justifications for staying in the relationship like… well, if it’s not you that brings out all this pain in me, then someone else surely will, so what’s the point in leaving? We ended up being in limbo for many years (in fact still are) too scared to leave, but too much in pain to stay and commit and would constantly bring me back to the question… I don’t get it, are we together or not? My next project will be an EP”

Pearls of wisdom from your journey so far?

“When I first started my originals project 2 years ago I started a crowd-funding campaign to help with the production of my first EP and also to go to the States. I asked for $4500 and had 2 months to raise the money. Toward the end of the campaign, on the last day I had only reached about 86% and really wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the end (if I didn’t make it, I wouldn’t get any donations at all). In the very last hour I saw that I had exceeded my asking price by $300. Of course a lot of people had left it to the last minute to donate but also, one person had donated $500. I had to ask him if it was an accident. It wasn’t. He told me a couple of years back I was playing in a dingy bar to just him and the bartender and he was staying in the hotel above the pub and was going through a rough period of his life. My music that night gave him relief even if it was just for the night. I was amazed and shocked because I succinctly remember that gig, and remember feeling so insignificant and hating that I was playing to no one. It just goes to show that the impact that you make in this world is more than you’ll ever know.”





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She was a finalist in the 2016 Triple J High Unearthed competition with Glass and is back again this year with Pure Luck; a very appealing to the ears collaboration with friend Freya Staer. The song has already notched up an incredible 1million plays on Spotify. Pretty exciting for any musician let alone a young 17 year old from Gosford High School. Nina spoke to me about this lucky tune and her friendship with Freya below.

Your song Pure Luck has won you a finalist position in this years Triple J Unearthed competition. Can you tell us about the song and your collaboration with your friend Freya Staer?

The song came about from Freya and I hanging out at my house and playing around with a few melodies on my laptop and her guitar. It was super spontaneous and it came together really quickly.

How did you feel when you realised it had notched up 1 million plays on Spotify?

It felt awesome – Freya and I are stoked that so many people like the song.

Do you think this collaboration could be the start of a professional partnership?

I’m not sure what you mean by that, but Freya and I are definitely working on more music together.

Is there an album or EP in the works?

Not at the moment, but I’m looking forward to writing and producing much more music once I have finished school.

You and Freya have been friends since you were 10 years old. Where did you meet and when did you discover your shared passion for music?

We met when she moved to my primary school in year five and became friends. I can’t pinpoint when we discovered our shared passion for music, but I think we both started working on our individual projects around the beginning of high school.

Catch Ninajirachi when she performs at this year’s Listen Out Festival 30th September 2017 Centennial Park, Sydney.





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Merpire is the writing name of talented Sydney singer/songwriter Rhiannon Atkinson – Howatt. Her unique style saw her win the Telstra Road to Discovery 2015 and since then she has been working hard on evolving her sound. Now she has a new EP due out later this year and a new single Holding Breath. As part of the launch she will be performing two shows:
The Oxford Art Factory, Sydney Thursday July 6th. Supporting artists Elizabeth Hughes and Georgia Mulligan
Wesley Anne Melbourne Friday 7th July. Supporting artist Liv Cartledge.
Merpire spoke to me about the new release and her love of creating music.

Holding Breath, is from your new EP. When is this due out and where will we be able to buy it? Also, what can you tell us about the track and EP?

I was dying just to get ‘Holding Breath’ out so you can imagine how I’m feeling about the release of the EP! ‘Holding Breath’ is basically about looking for love the same place you were hurt and the pitch-bending violins try to emphasise the ups and downs that come with that. The EP will feature more big walls of sound as well some quieter, more intimate moments. All of it is honest and a little bit quirky, just the way I like it. You can expect it out towards the last quarter of the year. You’ll be able to buy it from all the major online distributors, including bandcamp. Of course, the best place to buy it will be at my shows where you’ll also find something special to go with it..

Tell us about shows planned for the Oxford Art Factory Sydney and Wesley Anne in Melbourne.

I’ve played the Gallery Bar in Oxford Art Factory a couple of times and have always dug the vibe. It’s all about the mood you want to create on stage so it starts with the vibe! I’ve also had the absolute pleasure of watching some of my favourite acts there. For instance, my number one gal, Angel Olsen.

I played at Wesley Anne in Northcote not long ago when I supported one of my best friends, Liv Cartledge as she launched her stunning EP. Liv is in fact going to be supporting me at my Wesley Anne show. I love Wesley Anne. It looks like an old-school movie theatre. Such a beautiful, cosy room.

You say when you write songs you like to see them as mini movies. What do you mean by this?

When I listen to music, like a lot of people, I like to be carried away to another place: A scene you create in your mind about what the song is about or how it can relate to your life. I also like to pretend I am in a movie scene when I listen to music sometimes, especially when driving at night and in an emotional mood. Ok, I spend a lot of time in this alternate reality in my mind. Don’t get me wrong; I have a wonderful life ha! But it really is magic the way music can do that so instantaneously. I would love to be able to create that world myself for others to experience and get lost in.



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If you were thinking of taking your dog to the average local park on Oct 9th, think again. That will be the date any dog whose any dog, is off to enjoy Dogapalooza music festival, and any human who forgets this date, is likely to be on the nose. Just sayin’! Musicians billed to perform are Triple J Unearthed winner and indigenous artist, Thelma Plum, The Little Steves, Sam Lohs and a mystery guest that is being kept under wraps. Proceeds raised from Melbourne’s first dog friendly music festival, will go towards animal protection agencies. The very talented Thelma Plum granted a short but barking sweet chat about the gig.

Are you a pet owner yourself?

I am proud mother to my cute lil boy rabbit, Dolly Parton. He is extremely cheeky and enjoys going on walks and getting pats on his cheeks. Also my family dog Tex who is a cream kelpie rescue. He is frightened of almost everything including feet.

When I contacted you for an interview , you mentioned you were in writing/recording mode. How is this going?

It’s been going great! I am currently finishing up writing for my debut album. I am pretty excited to record them.

From your musical journey so far, what has been your fav experience or achievement and why?

Hmmmm.. It changes all the time but I would say getting to meet all the people/puppies along the way.

Can you share any amusing anecdotes perhaps of things that haven’t gone to plan?

I am the queen of things not going to plan. I’ve kind of become pretty good at going with the flow. Everyday something doesn’t go to plan, but it’s way more fun/interesting this way. Like this morning when I planned to go for a run and then didn’t.

If you could change the world tomorrow what influence you would like to have?

I would put a holt to puppy farms and also breeders. If anyone wants a pet, they can rescue, not buy.

Anything not covered you’d like to add?
Cannot wait to kiss and cuddle all of the dogapalooza pups.

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Emily Wurramurra

Emily Wurramurra always loved music, but growing up in an indigenous culture in the Northern Territory it was rare for women to sing publicly. Thankfully she had the courage to pursue her musical ambitions, despite the cultural clash this represented. Below Emily shares what this achievement has meant to her.

Where I’m from we still practice sacred ceremonies and we still have that male hierarchy system. The women are taught from a very young age to be respectful: what to wear, how to treat your husband – cook, clean, wash anything for him. That’s my culture, and me being able to step out of that system and be a role model for my women in the community is a very powerful significance. I hope that other women are able to do this too and not be restricted by our culture. Yes, I respect it. I live for preserving my culture, but I believe that women can do anything.

What was your biggest inspiration growing up?

I had so many things that inspired me growing up. Musically, I was inspired by a lot of community bands from NT and bands from my community. My inspirations range from Jazz to hip hop and seeing those artists get up on stage and rock it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Do you miss your childhood in the Territory or are you more of a city girl these days?

I do! I miss it so much, I feel like there’s still a great divide and I’ve adapted to the city life, but I’d swap it for home any day.

You currently have your debut EP out. What can you tell us about that?

My Ep is called black smoke, and its made up of 6 songs focused around my childhood, the now and the future. Half of the songs are in my mother tongue- anindilyakwa- and half in English.

Can you share any amusing anecdotes from performing?

I have so many goodness me! When I was in Melbourne, it was the first gig to my Black smoke Tour. I was strumming out pretty hard to this song “tapsticks” and my string broke but I kept going and it was the very first time ever that happened. It was hilarious.

What was it like collaborating with Bernard Fanning?

It was amazing, he’s such a talented musician. SUPER supportive, and the most friendliest and most humble person I’ve met.

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