A Conversation with Mark Ferg
Hi, my name is Raheem Nelson and I’m the Creative Director behind No Starving Artists. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a friend I went to grade school with, Mark Ferg. He’s a man of many musical talents and today we’re going to be talking about his brilliant new album, “Planet Earth is A Ghetto...But I Still Love You.”
Ra: How did you get started with music?
Mark: I have been into music my whole life. I grew up in a very musical family. My dad is a bass player and I have a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins that sing. My parents and older sister always played different types of music in the house growing up and once my mom found out that I could hold a tune she made sure that I started singing in the junior choir at our church.
R: What influences your music?
M: I think one of the main things that influences my music is life. There have been times when I felt as if I was drawing a blank creatively and what that told me over time is that it can sometimes be difficult for me to create when my life experiences seem to be running low.
So when I come across these types of blockages I know I need to do some living and come back to the drawing board. Living to me can be anything from a conversation with a stranger, traveling, reading, hanging out with friends, or a simple walk outdoors.
R: Tell me about a memorable experience you had performing.
M: In May of 2019 my friends and I started a monthly underground event called “A Night In” It was set in an intimate location that was disclosed a few days before the event. The night consisted of ice breaker games, creative networking, food, drinks and at the end of the night my friends and I would do a surprise performance. I have had the most fun performing at our monthly events. Unfortunately we had to suspend doing them due to COVID.
R: What sparked the inspiration behind the album cover?
M: So there are a few inspirations behind the album cover. I think the inspiration for the robe was subconsciously influenced by the cover of the late Harry Nilsson’s album “Nilsson Schmilsson”. I love him and love that album so it's very possible that I inadvertently was influenced by him there.
I also wanted the album cover to be provocative and reflect all that I was going through and witnessing in this moment in time. We were all stuck at home, protests going on erverywhere, in the midst of a world wide pandemic, and the album was essentially made at home. Take all those aspects, add on a few others and you get my album cover.
R: What is it like creating music during COVID?
M: I think for me creating during COVID has been a gift and a curse. I have learned so many new things by creating music during a global pandemic. I learned how to set up my own studio at home, I've learned how to record myself, as well as how to produce tracks. There is also a certain freedom that comes with recording yourself in your home. If I have an idea I don’t have to wait to get them out I can create right on the spot.
The downside is that doing live performances in front of a crowd during COVID won’t be able to happen ethically and performing is one of my favorite things to do.
R: For the next part I would like you to give me a sentence or two about each track on the album. Like break it down. How each track came to be and what it means to you.
M: Dedication is the perfect kick off to the album. It sets the town sonically as well as thematically. I want to write a theme song for my brothers and sisters of color.
M: I used war to vent about all of the things I was currently seeing in the news and social media. It speaks on the external war that is currently going on worldwide and it also speaks on the wars that we as people are currently going through internally.
M: I think in 2020 we all have reached a point when things seemed so crazy that we didn't believe the things that were going on were actually real. Month after month it seems like its always something it's like being trapped in a nightmare.
M: Isolation speaks to the mania a person can go through when they have gone extensive periods of time without human connection.
M: Protect black women... POINT BLANK PERIOD.
M: I came across this untitled poem that my friend put up online that fit with the messaging of this entire project. Her name is Joia and that is her voice reciting it.
M: Everytime a person leaves their house there is no promise that they will return in 1 piece. As a black man this scenario is more likely to be my truth and it is any other person of any other race. This song touches on that.
Planet Earth Is a Ghetto
M: This is the title track and when I created it I was clear this was the overarching theme of the album.
I Still Love You
M: Planet earth is indeed a ghetto but I love it. Planet earth is ours so if it is ghetto we should look to see what we have done to contribute to that and then address the issues at hand. Our relationship with earth is no different than our personal and romantic relationships.
You can find Mark on Instagram @markferg_
“Planet Earth is A Ghetto...But I Still Love You” is available on all major music platforms.