Mark Olson played with the seminal folk-rock/Americana bands The Jayhawks and Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, before becoming an acclaimed solo artist, earning acclaim for his sun drenched melodies, and many appearances on Later… with Jools Holland. Following the 2014 release of his acclaimed Good-bye Lizelle album, Olson is currently on tour throughout the UK throughout April 2015, so we caught up with him to find out more about life on the road with collaborator (and now wife) Ingunn Ringvold.
How does it feel to be known as a founding father of modern Americana?
‘My Father Knows Foes‘ is a traditional song that I used to do. It’s a remarkable song because it is exactly the way my father acted when he picked out a singleminded friend of mine who happened to be the best boxer and wrestler in my grade school. I remember it being exactly this time of year and on Friday evenings he cleared out the kitchen table and we would wrestle and box with winter gloves on. Winter gloves hurt more than boxing gloves! My father would referee and he was fair and in fact made sure that I was always at a slight disadvantage because of my home kitchen advantage. This went on and on and eventually I wrote songs about him because it is a memory I wanted to figure out. l like a painting that is all disjointed and tilted. He died too early and I put the exact circumstances into the Jayhawk song ‘Ann Jane‘ about me cooking for my sisters and ‘See Him On The Street‘ is also this lyrical question. I put my family in all the songs I wrote.
Was Ingunn Ringvold collaborator or partner first?
We were going out from the first hour we met and then we started to practice music together later that week. We have a lot of things in common and our backgrounds are very similar even though we are from two different nations. We enjoy many of the same activities and goals in life.
Where did you first meet and how do you work together?
We met in Bergen, Norway. I work at lyrics a very long time and bring in lots of ideas with a basic groove and melody and overall layout. Then we will both take turns at the piano trying in front of each other to improve components of the song. Ingunn will bring a musical part and I will add lyrics and vocal melody. Also she will add top harmony and likewise I will add low harmony. To me what I describe above is basic songwriting. There are other ways too – for instance sometimes we sing chants together in the car! This is really a good time and mostly we do this going up roads in mountains for some reason it lends itself to that sort of chanting.
Who else did you collaborate with for this album?
Neal Casal ( guitar ) and Danny Frankel ( percussion, drums ) brought their knowledge and great musicianship to the album.
Who is Lizelle?
Ingunn and I were married in South Africa. I have some good friends there that helped with our stay and inspired the Long Distance Runner song. They would have us over for their yard cricket games which was new to both of us and we have spent about 5 months there between 2 trips. Lizelle is a South African name and I made short fictional story about a woman who writes dark and mystic books.
What inspired the lyrical content of the new album?
Family musings and philosophies, desert djembe circles, ideas about hope and laughter, not wanting to be around people that continually lie to our faces. I think these are universal themes and inspirations
Where can we catch you during the rest of April?
You can catch us on the 24th April at Dundee Beat Generator and on the 26th April at Aberdeen Almost Blue @ Blue Lamp. See more live sessions below:
Blue (Jayhawks cover)
Long Distance Runner:
- An interview with Mike Gale of Co-Pilgrim and review of A Fairer Sea
- Lana Del Rey: Blue Jeans remixed by Kris Menace
- Thus Owls introduce the video for new single As Long As We Try A Little
- Finn â
- First Aid Kit – The Big Black and Blue – Album review