Mark Sholtez & The PSS 20

1278846904_mark-sholtez-the-distance-between-two-truths-2010Many moons ago when I was a Visual Arts student, I would stay up till stupid o'clock working on essays, artwork, and often the Sun would come up without me realising I had been working with the wrong shade of blue for 6 hours. One of the things that got me through the late nights was a particular playlist that included some of my favourite voices, and usually the same 25 songs would play for hours. There was something soothing about that playlist... as though I was being read wonderful stories that I could never get sick of.

I've always been fascinated by the song writing process. I'm especially drawn to those singers that sound like they have seen the world, and know how to tell the most detailed of stories with a beautiful melody.

Enter Mark Sholtez. 

Just the other night I decided to hit play on a few songs I hadn't heard in years, and it came on... one of my favourite tracks ever produced by an Australian musician- "If you were a song" by Mark Sholtez.  In an instant, I was taken back to my 21 year old self. Hopeful, curious and full of wanderlust.

Lately, Mark has been pretty busy working with Australian music royalty having just contributed 3 songs to a new record for Wendy Matthews called "The Welcome Fire". Last weekend, Mark and Wendy played 2 shows at the Sydney Opera House, and I cannot believe I missed it! So we caught up with Mark to get him in on the PSS top 20. Mark shares about his time on the road, what he misses the most when he's away, and why he'll never eat a bagel in NYC ever again.

The PSS 20 with Mark Sholtez

Guilty foodie pleasure I have spent a lot of time living in the USA over the past few years and am always on the hunt for the best burger.

All time Favourite city Really would love to spend some time living in Paris. From the outside looking in, it’s such a beautiful city. A few days holiday is never long enough.

Best meal you ever had abroad There’s a little tin shack cantina tucked away between Santa Monica and Venice Beach that makes the most amazing jerk chicken enchiladas. I discovered it a few years back when I was in LA recording “The Distance Between Two Truths” and it’s become the first and last meal I have whenever I’m in town now.

Worst meal you ever had abroad I had a bad case of food poisoning right before playing a show in New York a few years ago so you wont ever catch me eating bagels in NYC ever again.

Your fondest foodie memory is… While recording my “Real Street” album, almost every night after we finished working, Tommy LiPuma (the producer) took me out to dinner. Night after night we were in all the very best, mostly Italian, restaurants in Manhattan. Tommy would show up at the studio each day with these amazing bottles of wine, taken from his personal cellar in anticipation of the evening’s meal. I have been a non-drinker for the majority of my adult life, but very wisely decided to take up drinking during the making of that record.

Favourite local coffee house Dudley St Espresso in Annerley (Brisbane)

The best advice you ever received “Lower your standards.” I was living in Nashville at the time and a fellow songwriter gave me that piece of advice for overcoming writers block.

Theme parks or wildlife parks? Definitely wildlife. I had a 10 minute encounter with a whale shark while free diving in Hawaii last year that would trump an entire year’s worth of Disney Land.

Your plane is taking off; you’re on your way to a month long vacation. What are you listening to? I will usually choose the music based on the destination. If I was flying to New York I might put on an old John Coltrane record. A flight to London would most definitely involve The Beatles.  A weekend in Melbourne would likely include some Paul Kelly tunes.

The three gadgets you can’t travel without When I first went on the road promoting my “Real Street” album I was away for the better part of a year, and being a piano player I really missed just being able to sit and play music for fun. Unless you’re Billy Joel or Elton John you’re not staying in hotel rooms with grand pianos in them so there’s not much you can do to rectify the problem. That was the catalyst for me making the switch to playing guitar and so now you will rarely ever see me traveling without a guitar. I even have dedicated beach guitar. As for the other two gadgets, give me a great pair of headphones and a fully charged iPod.

What do you miss the most while you’re away? I spent the better part of last year working abroad with my partner back home in Australia and I must have written at least 50 songs about missing her.

Your most luxurious travel experience so far I think my most luxurious travel experience to date may have also been my most grueling. When I was first signed to Verve Records in the USA, the label sent me on a quick trip to meet the team in London, NY and LA. It was all first class with limos at the airports and exclusive hotels etc., but I flew from Brisbane to Singapore to Vienna to London to New York to Los Angeles to Auckland and back to Brisbane in 6 days.

When I’m away from home, something I miss the most is… There is nothing like coming home and sleeping in your own bed. My partner and I were just up in Far North Qld on a dive boat when I had to cut our holiday short to play a couple of last minute shows at the Sydney Opera House with Wendy Matthews. We flew back to Brisbane and were only home for 7 hours before heading back to the airport for a flight to Sydney. We probably could have just flown from Cairns directly to Sydney, but somehow it still seemed worth going home just to be in our own bed for a few hours.

Your Airline of choice I remember a friend of mine giving me a toy koala to take with me to Japan once. The flight was with JAL (Japan Airlines) and every time the hosties came past they would stop and give it a little pat. Eventually one of the flight attendants took it with her into business class. 10 minutes later she came and asked me to move seats. She then led me up into business class where there was one seat for me, and the toy koala sitting beside in a seat of its own.

The most underrated city in the world Not sure I’ve traveled enough to answer this definitively, but from my experience, if you take the occasional left hand turn off the tourist path, no matter where you are, you always end up finding something special. I love nothing more than getting into a new city and just walking until I’m lost.

Best thing you ever purchased while traveling I had an exquisitely beautiful guitar hand made for me last year by a luthier in the Vermont Mountains. It might very well the best instrument I have ever had my hands on. Definitely the best ever travel purchase so far.

You finally have a day off, what are the first three things you do to unwind? I guess I’m one of the lucky people who get to do what they love for a living. Nothing relaxes me more than sitting in a comfy chair with a guitar in hand just letting the time fall away.

The perfect weekend away includes... White sand, blue sky and clear water.

Your dream destination Cuba

Your next trip I was in the Maldives earlier this year and it was just beautiful. I literally just booked to go back next year.

Mark is currently recording a new album scheduled for release in the new year. Seriously, we cannot wait! Visit