Better known under his moniker Pataphysics, Patrick Marks is a current music technology teacher at Collarts working with students to better express themselves. A Mercury Prize-winning producer, Marks’ work spans across both local and international labels, and has seen him produce and remix artists that range from 360 to The Flybz with Paul Kelly. Debuting his first album Subversive in 2012, the record was named among the top 15 releases of 2012 by The Australian Music Prize and gained Marks the reputation of “an MC with plenty of feel.”
Playing festivals such as St. Jerome’s Laneway, Big Sound and Peats Ridge, his work prides itself on the experimental, drawing influences from funk, hip-hop, rap and the creativity of beat-making and poetry. Extending into film and television, Marks’ musical works have featured on SBS and in the National Gallery of Victoria; his passion for politics and its intersections hallmarking his lyrics and representation in every facet of creation. The Music Coordinator for R.I.S.E (Refugees, Survivors, and Ex-detainees), Marks also runs music workshops outside his work at Collarts, providing valuable skill-building lessons for young artists tackling recording and producing.
In celebration of his second album launch, Tip Of The Spear, we caught up with Marks to discuss his work and the cultivation of his art over the years and his latest puppet-inspired music video, ‘Today.’
Hey Pat, thanks for chatting! Let’s talk about Pataphysics. How did your solo project come about?
I started writing and recording music in my bedroom while playing in like 10 other bands. I used to burn CD’s and give them to people for Christmas.
Is there a story behind your artist name?
I got it from a philosophy class back in the day—my friend used to call me Pataphysics ’cause I was on this Eastern mysticism/Jedi tip, and the parameters of a post-postmodern doctrine suited my worldview at the time.
Let’s quickly talk about the music video. How did the concept come about and who worked on the project?
The idea behind the story was worked on for a while with Project nRt. Originally, the puppet was going to signify a psychotic break in my psyche, but the tone turned too violent for the song and the director decided to go with something more chilled. Funnily enough, the initial puppet idea came from Stevic at Collarts. He was like, “rap with a puppet on your hand!”
Being an MC, producer, trumpet player and audio engineer, has music always been an important way of expressing yourself?
Yeah, well, it allows me to shape the sound exactly as I hear it in my head. Playing music was always at the core. Then using software to create and record music opened up new worlds to me and it was so much fun. Working with other engineers, I learned a huge amount of things but never quite got the sound I wanted. It was only until I start tweaking the mixes.
Do you feel music is a crucial part of your identity?
Music a big part of who I am. If I don’t play or write, I’m not as calm. I used to be hyperactive and get in heaps of trouble until I started playing music.
Working in the industry, how does ‘Today’ mark your growth as an artist and person?
That continued creative expression and refinement of thought. Most artists are always trying to get closer or better at expressing a particular idea, feeling or truth. So it’s all just another step in getting closer to that.
“Stick to the sound you hear and cultivate your art. Practice, create, release, repeat.”
Teaching at Collarts, do you feel it’s important to share knowledge and inspire others to follow their art and passion?
Yeah, 100%. I love how trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie would share all of his knowledge with any musician, but it didn’t mean you could do what he did. Sharing knowledge is really important for building community and strengthening individual capacity for expression. Just being around and hearing live music can be super inspiring.
What can people expect at your album launch this Saturday?
My live shows have been tighter than it’s ever been thanks to Diego Villalta on guitar, Damien Ellis on drums, the amazing Kalala and Gabs on additional vocals. I’m on vocals, trumpet and beats. Also playing the night is Audego with vocals, beats and projections; Clandestino with dope Colombian hip-hop; and Sov Trax energising decolonisation conversations. Jean Poole (Gotye) doing visuals for the night and we have additional visual artist for the night.
If you could give advice to anyone about pursuing and focusing on your art, what would it be?
Stick to the sound you hear and cultivate your art. Practice, create, release, repeat. You learn the best by doing and in the process create a body of work while refining your style. Regardless of how niche you style is, there is someone on the internet who will probably vibe it.
Passionate about learning music production or performance? Check out our courses and RSVP to Pat’s upcoming album launch MMW Presents Pataphysics Album Launch, Audego, Sovereign Trax or check out Pataphysics on Facebook. Words by Monique Myintoo.