Although Newfoundland musician Mark Bragg describes his latest album as a dance record, the atmosphere of his live shows can be subdued. He said it’s dependent on geography.
“It’s funny because on the east coast when we play a live show, it’s about dance war. People are usually there to dance to the music, so the shows are all about bringing as much raw energy as you can,” he said.
From his experience, Bragg said playing in Ontario as an unknown band is harder because the crowd tends to listen more than dance.
“It’s also nice because it allows the subtlety in your performance to come through,” he said. “You can be more intimate in your room.”
In comparison to his previous work, the new album, Your Kiss, took a more creative route using horns and minimal editing. It was recorded in a one-room studio, as if the band was playing a live show.
“It’s really sort of a lazy record, in the sense that I didn’t play a single note on the album,” he said. “It got really heavy, intense and it was a lot of fun.”
Bragg, who traditionally plays instruments on his records, said he felt ready to make a record live in studio because he was confident in his band members’ abilities.
“It’s a leap of faith, because you don’t leave room to make a lot of fixes, so a lot of faith in the players and the album,” he said. “I had a great band and they really went with it.”
Bragg wasn’t as spontaneous when it came to the lyrics of his songs.
“As far as my evolution as a songwriter goes I’ve learned not to leave well enough alone,” he said.
The aim of the album was to create a dark narrative fiction that’s framed by a strong instrumental sound.
“Every song is kind of like a mini-movie in itself,” Bragg said. “It’s the sound of the album that kind of grooves it all together. They don’t all intermingle together all that well.” His first single off the album, “The Kiss,” tells a story about a downtrodden guy who turns his attention to gadgets when he doesn’t get the right kind of love from his partner.
When the character’s girlfriend can’t get his attention, Bragg said she dangles a sexual carrot.
“Here’s him realizing he’s never going to get the carrot,” he said adding that his character’s obsession with gadgets is an attempt to “fix things for good.” Bragg played at the Mansion during the end of his last tour. He said he’s excited to be back in Kingston for a live show.
“Performing live is the whole reason I do it,” he said. “Making records, writing songs, I find that to be the real grind ... I find the process to be a lot of work and it’s not necessarily enjoyable all the time.”
Mark Bragg plays the Mansion on Tuesday Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.