“Exploring Depths of Sorrow and Redemption: An Interview with Mark Howard on ‘Scarlette'”

by the partae

Can you share more about the inspiration behind the single “Scarlette” and how it reflects your personal experiences?

I’ve carried the weight of a lost love for a long time. She once told me she wanted to take her own life. Years later she did and I was left with sorrow and guilt. Processing the experience has now manifested itself into this piece of music. 

The opening lyric, “She breaks,” sets the tone for the song. Can you discuss how this lyric emerged and influenced the overall direction of the track?

I was workshopping the song with an old band and that lyric just burst out. That whole experience I had years ago bubbled up and I felt the story had to be told.

How did the creative process for “Scarlette” unfold, especially considering the unique sonic atmosphere you were aiming to achieve?

There’s been a few versions over the years. It started out as a pretty swampy rock track that was always fun to play live but the arrangement didn’t feel like it matched the lyrics. I took into the studio and we put down a bluesy version with some Rhodes keys but it felt generic. The next morning, producer Dave Prideaux suggested this delayed piano sound. That was the moment the doors flung open and we based the feel and arrangement around that sound. It was smooth and enjoyable process from there.

Scarlette” explores themes of regret, longing, and the search for meaning. How did you navigate these emotions while crafting the song, and what message do you hope listeners take away from it? When performing songs I have deep emotional connection with I visualise the emotion as a separate entity. I can step into it and sit with it during the performance then step out of it as the final chord rings out.

The single was mixed by Dave Prideaux and mastered by Andy Stewart. How did their collaboration contribute to the final sonic landscape of “Scarlette“? Yes, absolutely. As I mentioned, Dave was the key that unlocked the door to where this song needed to go. It took a lot of hard work, persistence and the will to let go of certain ideas to really find the path.

Phillip Island serves as the backdrop for the creation of “Scarlette.” How did the natural elements of the island, such as the ocean whispers and coastal vegetation, influence the overall sound and mood of the song?  I’m not sure if the landscape had an influence on Scarlette. The rain certainly did.

Your debut album, “Passing Strangers,” is set to follow the release of three singles. How does “Scarlette” fit into the broader narrative of the album, and what can listeners expect from the upcoming releases? That’s incorrect. My debut album Passing Strangers was released in June 2022. Scarlette is the first single lifted from my next album, Deep Dark Blue, set for release later in 2024

Having shared your musical tales in 45 countries, how has your global journey influenced the diverse musical elements present in your work, particularly in “Scarlette”? 
You learn as you travel that the audience connects with the truth in a song. Sometimes you have to dig deep and that’s what I to do to find the truth in Scarlette.

Can you elaborate on how your experiences with folk, rock, blues, and alt-country music informed the fusion of new melodic twists and swampy grooves in “Scarlette”? Each song is just a collection of ideas and personal experience that you build on until you collect more and build again. I try to be open to as many different ideas and experiences available to me.

You mention finding inspiration in the vast ocean, the wild outdoors, and the universal language of music. How do these sources of inspiration shape the thematic elements in “Scarlette” and your overall creative process? I’m in the habit of starting most of my days with some sort of outdoor experience. It sets me up for the day and certainly helps kick start the creative process.

“Scarlette” invites listeners to enter its melody and experience reverberating love and grief. How do you hope the song resonates with your audience, and what journey do you want them to embark on as they engage with the music? It’s ok to sit with grief and sorrow. It’s all part of the human experience. If you can, turn it into something amazing you can share with the world and inspire others around you.


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