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Mark Fernyhough: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The mercurial (and presumably insomniac) polymath Mark Fernyhough is set to support Suede again soon in Berlin. The musician/visual artist is based between London and Berlin. Mark’s songs have been featured on BBC Radio & have received heavy rotation on major German stations. He has joined David Bowie’s guitarist Gerry Leonard onstage & opened for Suede during three of their recent tours. Their singer Brett Anderson has publicly championed Mark’s music.

Mark Fernyhough’s new song ‘Sidewalks’ was inspired by the hedonism of Berlin’s underground electro scene. It combines melancholic beats with a soaring soulful chorus depicting drama, loss and inner-city romance. It was released on all major digital platforms this month, prior to him opening Suede’s ‘Blue Hour’ tour at Berlin’s historical Columbiahalle.

Mark is also a prolific visual artist and arts writer, his work appearing in Vogue, Neo2, Image Comics, Fortean Times, NME, Vice, and Electronic Beats. His current architectural art series juxtaposes the fragility of still life models with brutalist buildings, and towering structures: “I wanted to document cityscapes and include human models for scale. My models are of an equal significance to the environment they are inhabiting. They are no more or less the focus of the image than concrete or sky.”

SEEN was lucky enough to chat to Mark in the run-up to Berlin…

SEEN: Music, photography, art, writing… Do you never sleep?
MARK FERNYHOUGH: I’m an early hours kind of guy, but it’s all about prioritising. At the moment music is my main focus. I have a new single called ‘Sidewalks’ out, plus a compilation album coming up collecting my solo singles and unreleased tracks. In general though, I’m not sure cities such as London or Berlin are really designed for sleeping. I try and offset the visual wear and tear of insomnia by avoiding direct sunlight and manual labour.

S: You’ve opened for Suede before, does playing the Columbiahalle feel like coming home?
MF: Yeah, Suede were always one of my favourite bands so opening for them for a third tour, feels rather validating. I like how they combine unashamed artistic ambition with sing along pop music and good haircuts. I’ll be joined by London based guitarist/producer Steven Horry and German synth player Agata Demon. It’s always fun to play around with the live situation and present songs in differing ways.

S: Do you pay attention to fashion or the latest trends in your creative work?
MF: I admire people who can ride the fashion zeitgeist but also stamp their own identity on it. I like the idea of style as an art form. Musically whether my songs are electronic or live instrument based is not that important – it’s the mood and melodies that interest me. The architectural photography series I’m currently shooting with still life models and cityscapes is a conceptual project and snubs fashion completely.

S: You move between London and Berlin, what inspires you about these two great cities?
MF: They are dream bedfellows. London has its finger on the pulse of fashion, books, culture and cuisine. Berlin is a breeding ground for artists and its nightlife is insane.

S: You’re in London, you have a couple of hours to kill, where do you go?
MF: My favourite thing about London is its vibrant cultural scene and incredible sense of history. I like to write songs at night or in the mornings when everything is a little more chilled, so afternoons are splendid for meeting up with other creative friends and visiting a gallery or museum. I particularly enjoy The Hayward, The Serpentine and of course The Natural History Museum – as a person tired of dinosaurs is a person tired of life.

So true! Thank you, Mark.

C-Halle am Columbiadamm GmbH
Columbiadamm 13-21
10965 Berlin