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Mark Haze: Cape Town rocker talks music industry

From the outset it was clear a certain Mark Haze wasn’t going to be on the fringes of M-Net Idols. We’ve enjoyed watching his journey so far, but also how well he has engaged with his rapidly-expanding fan base. He’s used the internet to communicate regularly and connect with people while on his Idols journey. We caught up with him to chat about how he views music and life in general.

Name: Mark Haze
Age: 29
Family: Married – no kids
Hometown: Cape Town

What’s your musical background?
I sang in front of my church for the first time at the age of 4 years old:) From there on, I asked my parents to let me take piano lessons at school. I always remember my uncle, Trevor Keet, playing out in his band when I was a kid, and eventually I started taking interest in the guitar.

When I got to high school, I started taking part in various groups and musical teams. I learnt to play the drums and performed in a few jazz groups – one on guitar and the other on drums. After school, I started my first band, called Novus and played in several others as time went by. I eventually formed 12th Avenue and we’ve been together for quite some time. Its been a difficult journey, but one I wouldn’t trade for the world. We’ve grown together and performed all over the country with so many great SA artists.

Mark Haze
Mark Haze's at his audition for Idols.

I decided to enter Idols after a recent trip to the USA, where I entered The American Idol Experience in Disneyworld and won!! I think that did quite a bit for my confidence. I am quite blessed to have been voted into the Top 10 out of thousands in SA. I only hope that I can continue to perform at my best and give the fans what they expect. 🙂

Having been a part of the music industry for a while, what’s the best advice you can give to up-and-coming musicians?
Find your own way and be true to yourself. Plus, preparation is the best way to make sure you become a great performer. The problem a lot of people tend to do in our country is compare to international artists. I’m of the opinion that you should have influencers, but you shouldn’t copy them. 😉 Work hard at creating your own identity!

When it comes to social networking, what are the key differences between Facebook and Twitter?
I think Facebook is great for a somewhat one-on-one discussion – even though everyone can see it. For me, it’s extremely important to connect with my fans and hear their points if view or simply just allow them to connect with me. I unfortunately can’t be hanging out with everyone of them personally lol!! 😀 This is the next best thing I can do. 🙂 With regards to Twitter – it’s a very nifty tool that allows me to keep up with day to day happenings on the go as well as update fans as to what’s going in with me in a quick and concise manner. 😉

With the internet shaking things up so much, lots of traditional music production, marketing and methods have been rendered obsolete by modern thinkers. Where do you think musicians should turn their focus?
At the end if the day, the fans are the most important people out there. Without them, you have nothing! So, my advice would be to communicate and interact with them by any means possible. In the old days, flyers would be fine, but more and more tools on the online circuit are coming up. I say, whatever works. If you wanna go out there and do word if mouth marketing to get people to your shows, because you want to be “closer” to your fans, then you should do that. It’s about what you feel us right for you. 🙂

What potential pitfalls should SA musicians steer clear of?
I mentioned it earlier and I’ll say it again. Don’t try to be someone else. We need to stop asking musicians who they sound like. I feel there’s far too much of a comparison going on. “He sounds like a mixture of Bono and Lady Gaga, with a bit of Van Halen” Lol!! 😀 People need to learn to start using better ways of describing their music.

Who or what is the most important thing to you?
My wife, Shelley – I had my wedding ring tattoo’d on my finger. Ain’t no-one getting it off. 🙂

In three steps, can you describe how rock ‘n roll is going to save the world?
Music is the greatest form of bringing people together – whether it be in discussion or just to have a good time. Rock, in my opinion has always done a great job of borrowing from other genres. In my opinion, it’s the great middle ground where all music can work together to make a great song. Through this, us as musicians are able to deliver a message of unity, rather than breaking away into cliques. Ever been to a great rock show – everyone is arm in arm and there’s no other care in the world when you hear your favourite song performed. I’ve been saying that for years now – it seems to have stuck and people always quote me in it, which is great! I’m just trying to point out that music can create peace – even for just a few minutes. 😉

Describe your ideal weekend
Wake up late; go for a swim; play with my dog, Ozzy; get the friends over and start up a braai with some beers and some good tunes and great conversation. I love superhero movies – especially the new 3D ones, so I love to just head out to the cinema to catch a good flick and then ten-pin bowling and done pool would be awesome. On the Sunday, I like to just chill in the pool and catch a bit of TV in the evening. Maybe a bit of Dexter or The Mentalist. And if all plans go to hell, I’m putting on my Star Wars DVDs!! Lol!! 😀

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