As part of a new and ongoing series that takes a look at the Toronto music scene past, present and future, my latest interview is with Toronto singer-songwriter Dom Mar Kz.
We talk about everything from Dom’s first gig experience to playing the same stage as rock legends Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, the ever changing face that is Toronto’s live music scene and the process behind his first solo release.
Get a taste for Dom’s sound in the album teaser below.
What was the first gig you ever had? Was it a good turnout?
My first gig was a fashion show. They turned out great for the fashion show but the
audience didn’t really pay too much attention to the band. The experience was great though, you can’t put a value on that. Loved every minute of it!
Who was the first artist you saw that made you think you wanted to pursue music in some fashion?
The very first artist I saw was Elvis on TV when I was about 8 yeas old. Something triggered on the inside and I knew then I needed some of that. Later in my teens, I discovered Elton John; it was all over… I wanted to be a singer songwriter.
Best show you’ve ever seen? Where was it and who was playing?
The best show I ever saw was Bob Dylan at the Concert Hall in Toronto. I was about four rows back, center stage. Mr. Dylan was looking at me all night smiling as he performed. Oh ya, there was a lot of weed rolling around that night…
So many of Toronto’s music venues are closing or have recently closed. What do you think is killing Toronto’s live music scene?
Not sure why the music scene in Toronto is declining or losing its power on the people. Maybe it’s because the music these days has no soul, not really sure. But, I can say this, when you perform in other countries, you can see the appreciation that people have for live music.
What is one venue closure that you would be devastated to hear about (if it hasn’t already happened yet)?
Rock and Roll Heaven closed down about 20 years ago, it was sad to see cause it was such a great live venue. I saw so many cool bands their. I believe The Cadillac Lounge is closing or about to close. Another great live venue for bands; I played there many times.
Editor’s Note: Rock & Roll Heaven was located at Yonge & Bloor and managed by Gareth Brown, who went on to manage the Warehouse and later the Guvernment. Both of which venues also recently closed and I have to say, the stories I have heard about the original venue are eerily similar to those I witnessed myself during my stint as a stage hand for Guvernment/Kool Haus. The venue was revived in a new location in the north east end of the city in about 2008 but it too has since closed. More on all this in an upcoming piece about Toronto’s historic venues.
You have a new album coming out. What is one thing you’ve learned since making your first record that you will never forget?
On October 6, 2017 I will be releasing my first solo record. The one thing I learned and never will forget is, you must always be three steps ahead and prepared with the material you are going to record. I write more than ten songs when I’m about to record, you never know what songs will work best for a record.
Who’s producing/engineering the record?
Dusty Chesterfield Produced and Engineered the record. He’s a great musician and really knows his stuff. He’s passionate and loves music.
The title of the album is Destiny, what inspired this album and it’s name?
I woke up one day and realized, if I wanted anything in this life I would have to make it happen. Destiny was a song I wrote thinking about my life and where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be. When you search yourself on the inside, the answers are waiting to be discovered and when you discover, you realize it’s your destiny wanting to be released.
At least one of the new songs, “War” seems politically driven, as you sing, “War, what do we need it for?” Why do you think it’s important to start discussions like this through your music?
War is part of our world it has been since the beginning of time. Man has ego and is selfish. Therefor, man will always engage in battle toward one another. I believe it’s very important to speak out against hate and blood shed. If we are ever going to live in a civilized society, people need to fight for love. I am blessed to have the gift of music so, it’s my duty to use it in a positive way.
What do you think we should be doing as a society today to combat people that are enabling this kind of behaviour? We need to crack down on this because hatred is on the rise. People don’t have any regard for human life it seems, no fear of the law, or God.
What was your process like for this album?
The process with this album was a bit different. I wrote the songs and sent a rough demo of me either playing guitar and singing or playing the piano and singing to Dusty. We then recorded vocals over a guitar structure or piano structure and built an arrangement over the song. It’s easier to work this way when you’re a solo artist.
What’s one thing you can’t record without?
I can’t record without a good song!
Favourite pedal or amp to experiment new sounds with right now?
My favourite writing tool is an acoustic guitar or my piano. That’s where I get all my inspiration from. My favourite electric guitar is my US Tele and Fender Deluxe amp.
Amplifier simulators are a big thing in the studio nowadays, also the use of digital plug-ins rather than outboard rack gear. Are you a more old-school purists that will go out and rent a particular amp you want on your records or do you use the simulators?
I like old school mixed with new technology; I believe in fast efficient recording. We used a lot of plug-ins as Dusty is really good at the new technology software. Besides, it sounds great.
One record that you will never stop listening to?
Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run.
One producer that if given the opportunity you would love to work with?
You’ve been billed with the likes of Def Leppard, Bon Jovi. How did those opportunities come about?
With the opener for Bon Jovi we won a Q107 contest and with the Def Leppard show we submitted our songs to the promoter.
It’s surprising that these bands have managed to continued to be relevant in today’s music scene, something that today’s artists struggle with, many barely get out of the gate never mind if they stick it out for 5/10/20 years. Why do you think that is?
Great music will always stand the test of time.
Any particularly fond memories from those shows you can share?
The sound coming off the stage was like thunder and it wrapped around you like a
thick blanket. Greatest feeling in the world, to hear your music fill up so much
Out of all the classic rock bands that are still touring today, is there one you think should probably pack it in now?
No, not really. I believe if your healthy enough to tour and perform, you should
What is the most important quality you look for in potential band mates or collaborators?
I look for passion and the love of music. You can see if a musician either has it or not.
One thing you notice young bands are doing today that you might say is detrimental to their careers?
They rely too much on technology to sound good.
When did you first start to notice social media altering the music scene?
A few years back you could see the shift taking place. I mean, it works if you use it properly.
Do you think in the long run the use of the internet will revitalize Toronto’s music scene? And if so, how?
That’s hard to say, I mean I hope people learn to appreciate live music here in Toronto. Maybe if there’s a shortage, people may open there eyes.
What’s your preferred way to discover new artists?
Radio and live shows.
You can catch Dom and his band as they tear up Revival Bar [783 College Street] for the “Destiny” CD and video release on October 6th, 2017. Cover is $10 at the door.
[Have an upcoming CD release, gig, or single? E-mail me to be featured!]