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Meet the Durham anthropology student who recently signed with Sony ATV

His favourite night out is Fabios

Mark Race, a student from Collingwood College has recently been signed with Sony ATV. Starstruck and rather intrigued by his experience we decided to sit down and have a chat with him about how he got to where he is.

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His facial hair is a work of art

Where are you from?

I’m a local boy, born and bred in Durham City itself.

What kind of music do you sing/write?

Although we tend to stay away from restricting ourselves to one specific genre, I guess we fall into the folk-pop end of the music spectrum. The instrumentation used definitely leans towards Folk/Americana with mandolins, acoustic guitars and violin being fairly central to our sound. The music we write though is ultimately Pop, catchy and hooky melodies that are radio friendly.

How did you get discovered?

I guess for me personally, it was through Instagram. After joining Durham University, I began to start posting higher quality cover videos on my personal IG account and as my following grew, I was starting to get featured on other music accounts. Mat from the band saw one of these videos and reached out to me, asking if I wanted to be a part of the project. After speaking to the band’s manager Gonzo Lubel, I was convinced that this was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I simply couldn’t pass up.

As far as the band is concerned, our attorney sent an acoustic version of one of our records to Rich Christina (SVP of A&R for the East Coast) at Sony ATV and he loved it. We flew to NYC to meet him and it was after that meeting we were offered the publishing deal.

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Opinions on Durham University?

I’ve absolutely loved my time at Durham. People were sceptical about my decision considering that I was born here but I have zero regrets. I think the inclusive nature of the college system is one that other universities rightly envy.

So, where can we find you in Durham?

Since joining the band a little under two years ago now, I’m fairly nomadic (one for the anthropologists). My time is split between LA and London at the minute but I’m heading back to Durham in December for the festive season so no doubt a couple of Fabio’s trips are in order.

What is your favourite night out?

Fabios for sure. No frills, no nonsense fun, and Mexican painkillers are just great.

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What is your favourite coffee shop?

Flat White Kitchen.

What’s an average day like for you? Is it different to that of any other student?

Before my deferral, I wouldn’t say my average day differed too much from anybody else. Dreading those 9ams, college sport and far too many nights out. However, after I joined the band my whole life changed. Time spent in LA, NYC and Nashville meeting with music executives surely was a shock to the system.

Are you, or have you been, involved in music at Durham?

Honestly, not anywhere near as much as I’d have liked to. My music commitments outside of the university meant it was pretty difficult to fully immersive myself in all the great societies that Durham has to offer. I have, however, been lucky enough to perform at some of Collingwood’s major events such as Collingwood Day 2018, Sport Finalist Gala among others.

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What’s your creative process like?

Mat, Joe and I all definitely thrive of being in the same room together when we write and the dynamic works extremely well. However, with both Mat and Joe living in the US, we aren’t always able to be in the same room. There is a lot of bouncing of ideas back and forth and Skype sessions as a result, which has worked out very well over the past few months.

Have you encountered any fans in Durham?

One of the most humbling moments to date was when I returned to Durham following some time in LA to play Collingwood Day this year. Having the 500 strong audience singing one of my own songs back to me is something that I’ll never forget. I’ll never class them as fans, but it sure is a special feeling when people get behind what you are trying to achieve.

Do you have any advice to give budding musicians?

Write, perform, write, repeat. You HAVE to get out there and perform as frequently as possible in order to truly master your trade and if you’re good enough, you will be heard.