Mark Bragg either has a multiple personality disorder, is one heck of a storyteller, or has some serious explaining to do.
The Newfoundlander’s latest ECMA-nominated album, Your Kiss, reveals details concerning a kidnapping, a run from social services and a burning desire for the boss’ daughter.
“It’s straight up fiction,” clarified Bragg, “dark, character-driven, narrative fiction.”
The wacky rocker will bring bizarre, eye-bulging stage antics and every Your Kiss character to L’Escalier on Feb. 24 and 25.
“Before I started playing music, as a person, I was intolerable,” confessed Bragg. “Now that I’ve found a way to channel all that, I’m completely laid back. I get it all out on stage.”
Your Kiss is a collection of short stories, but music is the medium, and each track a different tale. It is energetic, theatrical, and much more than a studio session. It successfully simulates the live stage performance.
The lyrics alone are undeniably dark, but Bragg’s rollicking voice, yowling horns, wailing organ and crashing drums bring a more celebratory than morbid quality. His sound is impossible to generalize. It’s punk, country, rock, jazz, and everything in between.
“I get to know these characters pretty intimately in the process of writing and rewriting, but I get to know them even better when I’m performing with my band or touring,” explained Bragg. “I embody the characters and play it out on stage.”
For Bragg, it’s all about the performance. Your Kiss was over five years in the making, but even after producing and releasing the album, he claims that he only finds true satisfaction in performing.
He’s no newcomer to the Canadian music scene, considering his two previous albums have already sent him on tours across Canada and Europe. Music is his trade, but if he isn’t working on his own material, he’s producing or doing session work for other artists.
Born and bred in Newfoundland, Bragg has the St. John’s music community to thank as the driving force behind his talent.
“The music community here is very supportive, but the bar gets set pretty high now, there are so many great writers and musicians,” said Bragg. “It really challenges you, but it’s friendly competition, we push each other.”
“It’s a culture of storytelling around here. Everywhere you go, whether through music or other mediums,” said Bragg, “I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Bragg has a knack for musical fiction, and despite admitting that he’s not planning on writing many personal songs, one very truthful tune managed to slip onto his album’s track listing. He is a newlywed, and the ballad he wrote for his wife, “The Fool,” is nestled in between songs about a dirty colourblind pirate and an overweight teenager’s lust.
“It’s challenging, but what we need from the people that we love can be a bit of a guessing game. At the end of it all, when you find out what it is, it seems so simple, and I guess that’s love,” admitted Bragg. “[‘The Fool’] was my way of trying to get to the bottom of it.”
Mark Bragg opens for Guy Pharand on Feb. 24 and headlines on Feb. 25, both at L’Escalier. Doors open at 9 p.m.