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INTERVIEW: Fractures "I couldn’t even pick up a guitar, just because of the weight"

7 July 2014 | 8:11 pm | Adriana Barro

We catch up with the Melbourne artist FRACTURES ahead of his EP release, and his launch tour to chat about all things musical influences, to breaking necks.

After bouncing back from a serious neck injury mid last year, Melbourne electronic artist Mark Zito better known as FRACTURES  has been hard at work creating new hauntingly beautiful sounds as he does best.

We have just seen the release of the artist's debut self-titled EP, and a launch tour to follow which includes a set at the fast approaching Splendour In The Grass.

We caught up with this creator of smooth vocals and stirring harmonies to chat about everything from the accident that halted his career to plotting to climb on stage during OUTKAST's Splendour set, as the world slowly gets to know this humble musician and truly appreciate the talent he holds.

Seeing as you are described as a multi-instrumentalist – what was the very first instrument that you ever learnt to play?

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I started on the piano actually, back when I was in Prep I think, from memory, so I was about 6 or 7. I didn’t exactly..I didn’t try extremely hard or anything, I was fine at it, but I wasn’t enthusiastic and I kind of hung on for as long as I had to, and then jumped ship and started getting on the string instruments and guitar and stuff like that.

Did that love and interest for music kick off at that young age?

No I wouldn’t say so, I think it was a bit too, it was probably a bit too regimented for me to kind of latch onto it. I wasn’t really a big fan of having to gear up to play an exam and I mean I kind of regret it now, not being able to site read that well and things like that but, no, that came later on when I started being able to have more freedom, and choose what I wanted to play and things like that

Did you do any actual formal music training or has it always been more of a hobby for you?

I mean, beyond the piano that was the only real form of stuff, everything else was you know just within school and then probably I learnt most of it just fiddling around on my own you know? The birth of the internet, and everything, yeah so it was probably more just genuine interest.

Who are a few of your major influences ?

Hmm oh jeez, it’s a funny one, I never have a good answer to this but the obvious ones as far as style and things like that would be RADIOHEAD and THOM YORKE and stuff like that, but a lot of that is not necessarily the musical style but the scope of genres and the freedom with which they write songs - without conforming so much to style and just how effective that can be when you do that. Just knowing that you don’t have to have three choruses in a song and you know, play ABAB and that kind of thing. They would probably be the more obvious ones, but then there’s lots of other things, I listen to lots of stuff I listen to all sorts of jazz, shredding metal and everything is probably in there a little bit.

It was last year when things were just starting to kick off just that you seriously injured your neck is that right? What was the story behind that?

Yeah yeah I broke my neck in June, about a year ago in fact. Yeah look, let’s just say it was an accident, I fell down at home. It was a very boring story I was sick for no reason at all, and my gig was coming up that week and then yeah just woke up one morning feeling a bit faint and I just went ‘plonk’ and hit the deck and woke up and that was it, pretty much. Called the ambos and..

So it was a serious injury to your spine just from fainting!

Pretty much! I think I just went nose down like, I swan dived and hit the ground, which apparently you’re not meant to do so… yeah, it was a bit of a shit day...

How long did that put you out for all up?

Well they locked me into this orthopaedic halo thing and I had four pins in my head and just a big metal thing, which prevented me from moving my head up down, left to right, and that was a 3 month period. Then probably another month or so when they took that off where I was just kind of getting my function back, and slowly getting confidence back and everything else, and then from there it’s just been smooth sailing.

So I can imagine you didn’t get much done musically wise in that time, it was just pure recovery time?

Yeah it was difficult because I couldn’t even pick up a guitar, just because of the weight. The way my head was locked in, I couldn’t sing with any volume or anything like that, and just within that I just got frustrated and I was a bit grumpy a lot of the time, so I was never really in the best moods to sing, it was just a time to play Playstation – I made the most of that..

Do you think that your injury, or so much time off living with that frustration you spoke about had any effect on the type of music that you created post-recovery?

I mean a lot of what you see live is stuff I made after the injury, and I’m sure, I mean I’ve never really made the connection between the two, but probably the best part of the injury was that I probably wasn’t truly ready to play live. I probably didn’t necessarily have the sort of songs that made sense with this particular project, I think it gave me a second chance at restarting it, and in that I’m definitely grateful that I got the time to reevaluate and churn out some more appropriate tunes.

Well there you go, maybe it was fate?

Maybe, I don’t like to think of it that way, but you’re probably right..

What’s your process of making music? Do you sit down and try to make it happen all at once, or does it happen in dribs and drabs over time?

Yeah a bit of both, sometimes I sit there and just try my best to come up with a number one hit single and then sometimes it’s not so successful and I might just come up with one little hook or, a verse and beat, then I go dry and it might be months before I land back on it. For the most part it’s just me sitting in a room tinkering with a guitar or a synth and seeing what comes out. I never really go in there with a plan, it just evolves and I’ve got a song all of a sudden.

What’s your favourite place to write music, is there a certain space you have or does it happen randomly?

I mean I’m not one of those people who just has some divine intervention where a song pops into my head and I just write it down, it definitely takes tinkering. I haven’t really got anywhere, I just have my little studio room and that’s about it for now, but I’m definitely interested in going somewhere a lot more isolated and seeing what comes out and seeing how the environment effects me, but I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet.

So you’ve got your forthcoming EP ‘Fractures’ out next month, how are you feeling about that? Excited, nervous?

I’m not nervous, I’m definitely excited just to kind of get it out there and get it over and done with, then that box is ticked. Obviously I want people to like it but I know that I’ve got other things up my sleeve that will impress people and it kind of puts a bit of momentum behind me again and kind of will force me to click back into gear and start writing tunes, but yeah I’m excited to play it live for people.

I try to avoid the question “what should we expect from your EP” so instead, can I get you to describe it in 3 words for us?

Dark, moody, eclectic.

Your EP was mixed by Andrei Eremin - he’s worked with artists like CHET FAKER and OSCAR KEY SUNG, so what was it like working with him, and how did that come about in the first place?

I was lucky enough to be introduced to Andrei through the audio engineering classes we did, and it was pretty obvious he was destined for great things. He just had an ear for it, and he had a passion for it which I just couldn’t replicate personally. I mean, I enjoy doing it to a degree, but I didn’t have an inquisitive mind about finding out how all these bits and bobs work and he did. He had the output as you mentioned, CHET FAKER and OSCAR KEY SUNG and ISLES and he has this whole great catalogue of artists and they all sounds shit hot and I didn’t really have to go past that. I get on with him really well so I didn’t really have to give it a second thought.

The first track off your EP ‘Won’t Win’ has recently been dropped, what kind of feedback are you getting from the track?

Well I mean, mainly positive, but I think in the forums where people talk to me directly it’s always going to be positive – on Twitter and Facebook so far, people haven’t turned up to tell me that they don’t like me, so I’m pretty happy to keep it that way. It’s definitely been positive, but then again, maybe my perspective is slightly skewed.

Splendour is fast approaching, have you been to Splendour before?

No, I haven’t actually!

Wow it’s your first time there, and you’re playing a set! What can people expect from your live performance?

The band aspect is being thrown upon people and they seem to have taken to it pretty well, I haven’t had any backlash of people who want to hear chilled out electro-pop bangers or whatever, so it’s a good venue to show people the breadth of this style of music. It is probably a lot more ‘live’ than people expect, it’s not just a guy hitting a button and singing over the top, so it’ll be good for people to be there and actually feel the music rather than just hear it through their headphones.

How was that transition of making music predominately in solitude to beginning to perform on stage, was that a big jump?

Well I’d always kind of written with it in mind.  I mean some people don’t work that way but it made sense to me to always have that in the back of my mind, and I’ve always written songs for a five-piece, two guitars, keys, drums and that’s exactly what I’ve got in my band. It was always considered so the transition was pretty seamless, apart from having to teach people songs, so there was a few teething problems but yeah I’ve surrounded myself with a really talented bunch of guys who kind of just…make me sound good.

Any acts you’re particularly excited to see at Splendour?

Ah jeez, it’s such a big lineup…

Well more importantly, tell me, will you be shaking it like a Polaroid picture to OUTKAST?

Oh yeah, I’ll be up the front. I’ll try and get on stage if I can but I’m sure they’ll tackle me down..

Just to finish up, any smaller acts you’ve got your eye on at the moment?

I’m pretty pathetic when it comes to listening to new music. I’ve only just started to listen to music properly again.  I’m starting to get back into it, but, well, actually I’m doing a collaboration with Andrei, and I think when he kind of gets noticed that’s something that will definitely be worth paying attention to because he sounds amazing, and he has such a unique sound – and to be honest, pretty much all of my music news comes through him anyway!

Words by Adriana Barro