“Music is oxygen. It is a life force unto itself. Whether I am composing at the piano or performing before an audience, scarcely do I feel more vital than in those key moments, reinforcing our shared human experience through the vocabulary of song.” - Mark Cote
With his album, ‘Funhouse Of Your Mind’, singer-songwriter Mark Cote has carved out a musical niche that freely integrates pre-rock styles such as blues, jazz, and vaudeville with a breezy pop melodicism that recalls both Harry Nilsson and the late-60’s Beatles.
Speaking about his craft, Mark says “Songwriting is for me, the most singular means of expressing myself as an artist. On a fundamental level I believe that the more personal you state something in terms of a lyric, the more universal the impact will be for the listener.””
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Mark’s gene pool is evenly divided between New Zealand and Montreal, Quebec, Canada, courtesy of his mother and father, respectively. ”Musically speaking, I began my journey with the guitar at the age of ten because I thought it was the hippest instrument” he reflects. “My education was brief, however, as my interest soon waned. Two years later my parents purchased a second-hand Gulbransen upright - a refurbished 1910 player piano with a wonderful, thunderously ambient tone. Of course, it was the beginning of a monumental love affair. I found myself endlessly plunking out melodies before deciding to pursue any kind of serious training which happened to be jazz initially, and then classical.”
“There was not a great deal of money around my early upbringing” Mark begins, “although I never was conscious of any kind of lack. Ever since I can recall”, he adds, “there was always the presence of music in the house. From the moment I was walking vertically, I was either singing along to my parents’ record collection or getting my hands wet with paint, creating art. I believe that is where the two art forms became indelibly intertwined. To this day I always think of music in visual terms of both shape and of color.”
Visual is certainly the word that comes to mind in terms of describing the album ‘Funhouse Of Your Mind’. Produced and mixed by veteran record producer, Michael Frondelli (whose credits include albums with Crowded House, Marianne Faithfull, Billy Idol, and Danny Elfman among many others), the album’s tracks converge to create a colorful palette to lure the listener inside a nocturnal world, much like the urgings of the carnival barker narrator in the title song “…grab your ticket, spin the wheel, and get in line…”
“I found the ideal collaborator in Michael”, Mark offers, “As a producer he understood from the beginning what direction I wanted to venture towards, which was a concept album. We humans are a complex, and at times contradictory invention, and it is my belief that we all carry a virtual Coney Island funhouse in our heads. When I wrote the song ‘Funhouse’ based on this perception, it became the seminal creatively-defining moment for what the album would be: each of the songs functioning as an ‘attraction’ inside the funhouse of the mind. Accordingly, each song represents a different emotional state such as anticipation, regret, loneliness, jealousy, among others…yes, all those hard-wired responses that make the funhouse the maddeningly ambiguous place we all know it be!”
Citing his artistic goals, Mark concludes: “ As I deepen in the process of my own personal evolution, I wish my art form to reflect that. Longevity and authenticity are essential elements between an artist and their audience, and ultimately everything I am striving for as a creator.” Mark’s songs, distinguished by his vivid lyrics, playful sense of irony, catchy melodicism, and distinct vocal style have been featured across a wide swath of media, and continue to define the ever-broadening landscape of pop music today.
"Music is oxygen"
- Mark Cote
"Blend the melodic punch of Sgt. Pepper era-Beatles with the smoky, wounded romanticism of Tom Waits and you've got 'Fun House Of Your Mind'…a gorgeous album of top-notch songcraft and performances…"
- Kit Cooper, Sonik Soup Magazine