I’m so excited to bring back the 3Ws interview series on this blog! Getting to ask creative people about their creativity is one of my great joys. So, in addition to bringing new artists into the mix with the original three questions, I thought it would be fun to check in with past interviewees and ask three more.
I believe when music is truly thoughtful and hits the right place in our soul, it shapes our perspective. Back in 2000, I ordered Mark Erelli’s self-titled album from a Signature Sounds catalog (doesn’t that seem so quaint now?) and had the pleasure of attending a live show when his next tour took him through Rochester. Since then, his music has brought inspiration to my everyday life and my work. So many of Mark’s songs made it onto my writing playlist for The People We Keep. His voice is singular and awe-inspiring. His songs don’t shy away from the grit of reality, and then they reach further to dig out a sense of hope.
I’m endlessly grateful that Mark shares his art with the world, and I’m thrilled to have him back for 3 More Ws. His answers are following, and you can find his original interview here.
When did you discover your creative calling(s)?
I think my earliest creative calling involved drawing as a young boy. A lot of kids draw, I realize, but apparently I drew so much that when my parents ran out of magnets to hang new works on the refrigerator, they decided to literally wallpaper the entire kitchen with my drawings! As a musician, my real awakening came when I saw a young woman perform a Joni Mitchell song at a college first-years orientation event. I was inspired by her bravery, and truly moved by her performance. I remember thinking ‘I want to make people feel like she made me feel.’ I’ve been trying to do that ever since.
Where do you do your best work?
I have put a lot of energy and effort into eliminating pre-conceived notions of what I require to do my work. After a certain age, I felt that needing a particular kind of pen or paper, location, time of day, uninterrupted time of a particular length, or other requirements were just “excuses not to write.” It’s so hard—especially once you become a parent—to find the kind of unbroken vistas of free time to create that you enjoy was a younger person. So I like to think that my best work is done…wherever I happen to be doing it! That said, I do find airplanes to be particularly productive, because I can enjoy several hours of minimal distraction. It also helps to not have an instrument when I’m writing on an airplane, because I can avoid patterns and habits I might tend to unknowingly fall into when writing with an instrument.
Who are your great mentors, inspirations, or guides?
I don’t really have an actual mentor, but I kind of wish I did! It’s tough in music right now, because the industry part of it innovates and changes so frequently that were anyone to tell me they knew what I should do, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t believe them! I find most of my guidance and inspiration from my peers, singers and writers like Lori McKenna, Josh Ritter, Anais Mitchell, Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst, Jeffrey Foucault and many, many more. I just love seeing what my friends do, how they continue to dig deeper and deeper in their work and exercise their craft at higher and higher levels. Much of what “my influences” might have accomplished was done in an industry framework that no longer exists. I find my peers—the ones currently wrestling with the vagaries of the modern music business and the latest trends in media consumption—are the ones that are the most inspiring to me and ever helpful as I find my own way forward.
Latest album, Blindsided, can be purchased in a variety of formats here: https://markerelli.bandcamp.com/
Jumping in again to share a video of Mark performing one of his beautiful songs that made its way onto my writing playlist for The People We Keep. ~AL