Stop, Drop, and Sex Pop
Former Calgarian brings unique feel-good tunes to Sled Island again
I met up with Mark Mills for the first time on the Wednesday night of Sled Island, and during our chat he told me about his music, which he calls – among other things – sex pop. I didn’t quite get it at first.
A couple hours later, I was front and centre for his set at Republik and he was thrusting inches from my face while singing about biceps, triceps, and quadriceps and that’s when I clued in — and I regret it took me so long to discover how much fun it was.
Even though he hasn’t lived in the city for a few years, Sled Island’s website still has him listed as a local Calgarian. He was here when the flood hit last year — he was one of the last acts of last year’s Sled before it got flooded. So even though he doesn’t reside in YYC anymore, he’s still very familiar with performing here.
Mark plays a feel-good show. It’s not a set you have to be in on to understand. His songs come from the core and are easy to identify with. His 2013 album is called Go Love Yourself. It was a good attitude to have at this year’s Sled, which is probably why he ended up playing three times. But his music comes from a place where he wasn’t doing the best he could.
“I think the importance came with re-affirming where I was at in my own life, at that time. So it’s like, singing through these messages was kind of like… a musical therapy approach to what I was experiencing in life and it was just a good outlet,” said Mills.
Experiencing troubles in his own personal life — “baby Mama drama, if I had to MTV it up” — it was similar to how a lot of Sled attendees were feeling about the festival. Coming from an undesirable place, Mark’s music reminds us that life doesn’t always go as planned, but that’s okay. It’s a message a lot of Calgarians have had to take to heart lately.
“The fact that it has impact on anyone other than just me, I’m very grateful that people are relating to it, that it has application to their life,” said Mills. “I think when I was writing Go Love Yourself, it would have [been about] self-inquiry and self-awareness, if I could get someone to question something and to maybe take on a new perspective…..about what was in their life.”
“And now it’s transitioning more into liberation. If I can liberate someone or help them liberate themselves in whatever capacity that is, I would.”
It was enough to convince me to go out of my way to see Mark play again the next day at Palomino. It’s easy to get caught up in the frustrating details of daily life and forget to see the big picture. Mark helps give us that perspective with his disco-dancing, sex pop ways.
It’s a shame that he doesn’t live in the city anymore. The next time he does, it’d be worth checking out. If only to remind you to go love yourself again.