After The Fall: Fractures Opens Up About His Latest Album
Fractures, the stage moniker of artist Mark Zito, has had a challenging run since he burst onto the scene almost four years ago with his deeply atmospheric and brooding sounds.
His initial success online was, coincidentally, hampered by a debilitating neck injury following a fall that left him in a brace for six months. Now, following on from his self-titled EP in 2014, Fractures in back with his debut album, Still Here, and a series of live shows across the country.
Lachlan Baynes sat down with Mark for a chat on his career, the Melbourne music scene and his weird obsession with faces.
Following on from your self-titled EP, we have Still Here, which is quite an interesting title for a debut album. What’s the meaning behind it?
Initially I wanted it to be meant in the adjective sense. As in no movement. It’s still in here. But I knew from the outset that that was going to be a problem [because] it’s very ambiguous. So I went through other titles but I just kept coming back to it. Because I did have something of a little break for about a year and a half, two years, when not much happened in the Fractures camp. So in that sense, it kind of represented that too.
It’s also a bit tongue in cheek, a bit cheeky. Which is me. That’s who I am. I want people to have fun with their music. Have fun with the album title and then listen to the album and be morbidly depressed. But by that stage it’s too late. I’ve got the money, I’ve got the streams, so what are you going to do?
Do you find writing your music cathartic? Does it put you in a dark place?
I don’t think the music puts me in a dark place necessarily. Some of it naturally becomes a bit more personal because you start asking more questions as you get older. It’s a song-by-song scenario. A few of them are heavily rooted in what I was going through at the time and some are just extrapolations of other people’s stories.
I don’t get mired down in the emotion of them too much. I’ll be writing a song and I’ll snap out of it and say something funny for example. So it’s not totally indicative of the type of person I am. I’m sure I have my moments, like everyone does, where I delve into the depths of the human psyche and disappear into sadness. But, for whatever unknown reason, I tend to go to the dark stuff when I write. I don’t know why. It’s just more interesting I think.
It’s been three years since that first EP. In that time how would you say your sound has changed and evolved? What have you learnt since then?
Many things I’m sure. I was 24 when I released that. So I was just a young beautiful boy really. I was younger and life stuff hadn’t popped up yet. Like I was still living at home. So I hadn’t really gone through anything of note. Had I? Oh yes I had, I broke my neck.
Probably a bit of a turning point was I toured with Holy Holy, who are a local band, and they are very much a live five-piece rock band with very little going on in terms of electronic elements. And every night when I watched the show it was just really powerful. From that point I got away from all the electronic type stuff I was doing. Not that I don’t enjoy listening to it but from an audience stand point, I find it a bit boring when people are just behind their machines. So I became a bit more band oriented.
And personal stuff arose a bit more, or at least I started taking more notice of it or started incorporating it more into the songs. And three years is a long time. Enough stuff happened to make it all mold and if it didn’t I think it would have been kind of weird if I just trotted out the same stuff. It was always going to change but still there’s a line, there’s a link. Hopefully it’s just an extension of what I was doing.
Is the merging of music and visual elements important to you? There is strong creative flair that runs through your covers and videos. You seem to have a thing for faces…
Do I? Yeah, maybe I do. That’s true actually. You’ve uncovered something there. I guess like 70% of them are faces. My very first two I was definitely all about something dark and contorted. I definitely like it to be striking. I’m not a huge fan of putting my mug on the cover, because I don’t think it’s going to sell any more. There’s only so much Photoshop you can do.
It is pretty important the visual element. You definitely see some pretty half-assed artwork out there and I think why not just try a bit harder. And as far as the videos, I’m at the behest of whoever’s directing. I give them the songs and I give them the lyrics and really vague cues and they go from there. Eugene Ryan, who did all the current artwork for the new singles and album, he got my little mood words and came back every time and nailed it. He’s on a similar wavelength. It is important that it’s of a certain quality.
Can you speak about when you first decided to pursue music as a career? When did you take that leap off the edge?
Fractures, I suppose, is only 2013 when it became a thing. I always played music and I played in other people’s bands as a bassist. I suppose I was always a bit less proactive and just kind of assuming that maybe their thing would take off and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Because I didn’t really have any ambition to do my own stuff. I didn’t think it would be a reality. And then when I started singing, about 2012, then I suppose Fractures was born.
And from that point onwards it was like a serious thing and then when I put out Twisted on Triple J Unearthed and Soundcloud without any management, without any anything, and people started listening to it. Then my current manager came along and signed me.
It wasn’t so much that I had this realization but more that people noticed it, people liked it and one thing led to another and I got to play gigs from it. Wasn’t a choice so much as it was, ‘alright, this is hitting the spot for some people. May as well do it while I can’. Which is kind of the attitude still.
After you found that traction online, what was your experience like coming up through Melbourne as a musician?
It’s pretty insular but once you know one person in the industry, you know everyone. Australia is a small place and there’s a lot of music going on so everyone is interconnected. Once you get one foot in the door it’s pretty smooth sailing really. The gigs came and they sold and people were interested. I think there is just an energy towards music in Melbourne. It’s just a small pocket of people and it was cool to be a part of it because you always look from the outside in and then it is like ‘oh, I actually know that person, I could talk to them if I wanted to’.
There’s definitely a difference between Melbourne and Sydney. They’re very different in the kind of music they put out. But it’s all very interconnected.
What would you say is the typical Melbourne music?
From what I’ve experienced, I think a lot more pop writers and electronic type artists seem to be Sydney based. Whereas Melbourne, and this would only be by a fraction, seems to be a bit more of a live bands kind of thing.
What do you think is unique about Melbourne that allows it to foster so much talent?
It’s hard to put your finger on it. It’s like a combination of elements. I’m not sure why it is such a creative and lively city, it just is. But Sydney has had the trouble with the lock out laws, which I think has seen a few people wind up down here. So you’re not inhibited as much in that sense. And there’s always something to do here, there’s always something happening. But I couldn’t tell you why, it’s just one of those intangible things. Something in the air. In the Yarra. But that’s a whole other story.
Still Here is available from 10th Feb and Fractures is playing at Howler, Melbourne, as part of the final leg of his release tour on Friday 24th Feb. Tickets are available through his website.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Photos have been supplied.
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