Interview: Steven Mark – EP The Long Goodbye

Singer/Songwriter, Indie Alternative Folk Rock

Q: Steven, when did you get the idea for The Long Goodbye?

A: I started writing the five songs with no intention of recording them. I was just enjoying writing, playing and singing the material. After I did a live show last October that featured the songs, I had the desire to record again. The name The Long Goodbye seemed like a natural name for the album, as most of the songs touch on that theme either in their lyrics or in the inspiration of the song.

Q: One Small Room found release in 2009. Has it been 11 years between albums? If so, what did you do in the meantime? – gigs? Any live recording?

A: If has been 11 years. Frankly, I didn’t think I’d be recording again. I thought that chapter in my life had reached completion. I’ve been focused on other things. Helping care for a sick parent, enjoying the last years I had with my dog. Just enjoying New York City and my life.

Q:Distraction was 2004…did you release a song or an e.p. prior to Distraction?

A: No. Distraction was the first. I saw all those songs as living together and wanted them all on the same album.

Q: One Small Room in 2009 contained 11 tracks, 2007’s Racing Gray ad 13, 2005’s Aloneaphobe had 14 tracks and Distraction from 2004 offered 12 songs but in 2020 you have 5 songs on The Long Goodbye. I think it is smart to have fewer songs in an era when there is so much free music on Soundcloud, YouTube and so many other platforms. What was your impulse to release an E.P. rather than a full length?

A: Laziness combined with a rush to get something out there. While I have other melodies in my head, these were the five that were completed and they represent a certain chapter in my life after I lost my dog and began dating again. These five songs fit together and then with the pandemic, I just wanted to get them out there and not wait to finish the others that I’m playing with

Q: How did the song “Under Water” come about?

A: I hadn’t played piano or guitar in a long while. After my dog passed away, I brought my keyboard back out mostly just to play other people’s songs. One night, I started playing that chord progression and started thinking about what the next chapter of my life might have in store, and that’s when the lyrics started to come.

Q:”Cloudy” has terrific musicianship. Who recorded this project and how many musicians are on it?

A: Thanks. The whole album was recorded remotely because of the pandemic. I was in New York. My long-time friend and producer was in Portland where he lives. And the violinist and cellist were both also in NYC but in different locations. If you are a musician, don’t forget to get the best violin cases to protect your instrument and make it last longer.

Q:Were songs like “High from You” written contemporaneous with the other four titles on The Long Goodbye or are these compositions from the past eleven years…or even before that?

A: All these songs were written during this chapter of my life. I like to work that way. I see the albums as representing a time period. And I also like to put them on the albums in the order they came out of me, except times when I know a certain track feels like the opener or the closer.

Q:What is the theme of “Lift the Burden?”

A: Lift The Burden was written as a love song for a friend that I cared for. She was going through a loss, and I was trying to let her know I’d be there for her. But I think thematically, it extends beyond that as it’s mostly about dealing with loss and getting through it together. So while it was written nearly a year before we all faced the hardships of this pandemic, I think it does touch on this sense of loss so many of us are feeling right now.

Q:Please describe – and some of our artists don’t want to give away the secret sauce, so only if you want – what “Sugar Butterfly” is about?

A: There was a woman very dear to me. We weren’t a great long term fit, but we were very close and always pushed each other in good ways. She was a big believer in the songs I was writing and she always asked me to write one for her. So after we parted ways, I wrote this song. She’s sweet like sugar and flew off like a butterfly so that’s what led to the title.

Q:Where do you see The Long Goodbye fitting in during the strange times that are 2020 – internet radio, college radio, television?

A: Like I said earlier, while all of the songs were written long before the pandemic, I think they all touch on themes relevant to 2020, themes like loss, isolation, loneliness and mortality.

Q:Do you intent to perform live when the clubs reopen? And are you doing any virtual performances on line?

A: The last show I did that inspired me to record again was at a legendary club in the West Village called The Bitter End. So many of my heroes and influences played there back in the day, so when the time comes, I’d like to perform there again. And if an opportunity to perform online arises, I’m open to it.

Q:When do you think the world will see a follow-up to The Long Goodbye?

A:No idea. If I have song I want to record, maybe I’d put out a single. Or if I have a few that would form a strong EP, I’m open to that. It has to come from a love of doing it and a love of the songs.

Thank you for your time, Steven.

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