Q&A with Model Man.

Q&A with Model Man.

By Fiona Burrage

Q&A with Model Man.

A conversation with Model Man, Mark Brandon and Sop founder, Fiona Burrage.

I discovered your music in late 2022 while on a coastal drive and was immediately hooked. The first song I heard was ‘Sweet Surrender’ and I’m not sure what I loved most, the cockney sample (I myself am from Essex – Grays Thurrock), the piano that reminds me of a London pub or the jungle base running through it. I soon fell in love with the range of music you make, it spans so many genres. Ross feels personal and like you are sharing a story. Recently I saw you play in Leeds and the night was electric. Your energy was contagious and passion for your craft is really inspiring.


Mark, can you tell us about where you were born and grew up and how that has played a part in the music you make?

I was born in Chelmsford Essex in the UK. Squarepusher lived next door to me. Gold Panda is also a stones throw. And Prodigy were in the next town. I worked in a record shop from when I was 15 to about 19. Keith from Prodigy was always in there and I'd take note of the records he bought. 

Upstairs they sold musical instruments. I grew up learning piano and guitar but became intrigued by some of the effects units and samplers they had. On slow days I learned how to use all the gear. 

Essex is a bit of a melting pot for dance/electronic music. There’s a lot of regular people making house, garage, drum and bass, experimental music. It’s just part of the culture. I have mates that are lawyers, construction workers and they make some of the best garage music I've ever heard. 


Are there any musicians or a movement you have been inspired by?

I’m just a big music fan. I’m not a purist at all. I know a little bit about every genre. And take little bits from all over the place. 

I grew up listening to a lot of classical stuff because my mum was a piano teacher and on the flip-side my dad was into a lot of Chicago house and disco and soul music so there was a lot of stuff like Bill Withers and Sly & The Family Stone that kind of thing but then yeah, a lot of like Chopin, Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, I like a lot of minimalist composers as well. Like Steve Reich and Philip Glass.


Is there a particular place that you find inspiring?

I was in Dublin recently. There’s music everywhere there. It’s impossible to walk around the city without hearing live music. Anytime day or night. It’s a beautiful thing. New York is like that too. Just extremely high quality musicians. One of the best voices I ever heard was just a regular guy busking in Manhattan. I think he was singing Al Green. I have a video of him somewhere. 


How do you start composing? Is it a mood, a feeling, a sense of something that inspires you?

Most days I wake up and play the piano for a while and record the improvisations. I just let it all flood out you know.  So I just got a library of piano recordings that I listen back to and start hearing ideas from that or sample what I’ve done and cut them up. A lot of my ideas start out on the piano but then sometimes they start with a vocal idea that I’ve got from a friend or something someone sent me. There’s a tune in my new album called Start Again. The vocals on that are from a friend. 

She sent me a few voice note sketches and I turned them into something. A lot of concepts are in your head too. So if I’m on the train or out and about I might have an idea and I’ll take note of that. I’m in a habit of sampling everything. I had a conversation with an excited drunk women on the subway in NYC recently. I recorded some of it on my phone that made it on one of my tunes. 


What do you feel like when you are playing live? And generally playing even at home. Does it take you somewhere. Do you get lost in it?

Some moments are technical. So I have to concentrate. But when the flow is there it feels euphoric. It’s the best feeling in the world when the music and the people and the energy all becomes an extension of you. It can be extremely powerful and sometimes very emotional too.


How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it yet? How do you hope people feel listening to your music?

Emotional electronic music with lots of piano and chopped vocals. 


We believe in putting things into the universe, so is there anyone in particular you would like to work with?

Leon Vynehall is great. His sound palette is so rich. He’s a true artist. I’d love to work with him!

Thom Yorke was one of my faves growing up. (And still is) I’d give anything to work with him. He has one of the greatest voices of all time. The melancholy in his writing is something I've always been drawn to. 


And an important one for me to ask, when will you be releasing your next album?

Ha good question. I've been writing and recording a lot. But I haven’t formed anything into a body of work yet. I’d say early 2025.


You can hear Model Man on Spotify.