By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On July 9, 2020, Mark Nelson released his latest single, “Lost Love In A Day,” via Animal Farm Music.
Born with one arm, that didn’t stop a young Nelson from strutting around with a makeshift microphone via an upside-down toy tennis racket as he sang along to Beatles records.
After some struggles and determination, he finally found a way to learn to play guitar at age 14 by playing right-handed guitars upside down, so that it was strung normally bass-style as he listened to and copied Paul McCartney’s bass lines from ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club’ and went further from there to explore the world of blues.
After some time in London as a member of several bands, Nelson went solo and has performed around England, Romania and Kosovo and also released several albums, like “In From The Cold” and “Out In The Sun.”
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Nelson about what he’s been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mark Nelson – As a musician, I have obviously been affected from not being able to perform live, either solo or with my band, Mark Nelson Blues Band. However, we have managed to record videos in isolation of each other and had these played out on virtual festival events, which is nice. Obviously, it’s been a hard time for everybody and many people have suffered the loss of loved ones, which is tragic. I have been lucky so far. I did get the virus and survived it, so really, I’ve been very lucky! I do hope it finishes soon for all of our sakes.
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to go back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Mark Nelson – I would say that, “You’re in for a tough year, Mark, a challenging one at that! Get used to using the internet and social media to promote your music as much as possible, prepare for a career change, but most importantly, keep writing songs and keep soldiering on! Don’t expect to have a holiday!”
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?
Mark Nelson – I miss the thrill and the buzz of live performances and that wonderful connection that you can have with audiences when you’re playing a song and the feeling that you’re in the moment together. You don’t quite get that with online performances. Even if they are live, there is no eye connection and that is always important in live performances. I also miss the challenge of writing and performing new songs for new audiences and the pressure of learning a song to perform it live. It’s a buzz that keeps you going.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Mark Nelson – I have been producing lots of little promo videos for my latest single, “Lost Love in a Day,” which has just been released through Animal Farm Music. I have had great fun trying different styles and ideas out and been very creative, as well as learning more sophisticated video editing techniques along the way.
Music Bugle – Being born with one arm and learning how to play music is downright incredible – what advice do you have for those people who feel like they can’t pursue their dreams?
Mark Nelson – I would definitely say pursue your dreams, no matter what. It’s never too late, really. If you want it, go for it. Never give up and never let anyone dictate how you pursue your passion in whatever you do, whether it be music, writing, dance or painting. Just go for it and you’ll find it was worth it.
Music Bugle – Who do you listen to right now, music-wise?
Mark Nelson – I have been listening to a lot of late 60s classics, such as The Beatles, The Small Faces, early Fleetwood Mac, The Who and The Doors, but also to more contemporary artists like Jon Allen and Graham Coxon, who I am huge fans of.
Music Bugle – Looking back on your career so far, what would you call your proudest moment?
Mark Nelson – My proudest moment was probably being managed and produced by the legendary Gus Dudgeon, who is sadly not with us anymore. I was in a band called Slinki Malinki in the early noughties and Gus managed and produced us for a few years. We didn’t get signed, but with Gus, we came close to it. I was very proud to work alongside such a legend who had produced such great acts as Elton John, The Zombies and Joan Armatrading.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a musician to stand out these days?
Mark Nelson – Potentially, the use of social media allows unsigned artists to shine and get their music out there if they know how to use social media effectively. There is very little alternative for most musicians these days and it is obviously a lot harder to get noticed in the vast sea of talented artists, but at least that power is with the artist, up to a point, which gives us all a chance at shining.
Music Bugle – Which of your musical releases do you feel represents you the most?
Mark Nelson – I would probably say my song “A Wish,” which is a poignant love song longing for a love that’s lost and gone. It is ambiguous in that you’re never sure if the girl the singer pines for has left him or has died. The main thing is, of course, that he misses her and longs for what he had. Writing painful love songs comes easy to me for some reason, although I’m perfectly happy in love as I have been happily married for 15 years. I guess I’m still drawing on the pain of first love, when I was a young and naive man wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Music Bugle – Are you working on any new music at the moment?
Mark Nelson – I am always working on new music. Aside from my latest single, I am working on producing my blues band’s second album of original blues material and I’m also writing new solo songs and blues songs as much as I can. I’m always being creative and I keep my brain occupied most of the time – lockdown or no lockdown!