Psychogeography: #19 – Mark De Clive-Lowe In New Zealand
There is an elegance which underpins much of the musical output of Mark de Clive-Lowe, his sound diverse and orchestrated with beautiful precision. Drawing upon the influence of those who came before he has brought rejuvination and life to a sound which some might have distanced themselves from previously. This is perhaps most noticeable on his most recent release "Live At The Blue Whale" which was recorded live at the Los Angeles club. Delicate flutters play out sweetly above juicy drums as the piano takes the centre stage. Alongside his band he creates a spellbinding insight into the future of jazz, it looks positive as hell.
Now based in Los Angeles Mark de Clive-Lowe originates from humble roots off the coast of New Zealand. As a frequent traveller he can find it difficult to return home. We caught up with him before his appearance at Worldwide Festival in Leysin to talk about life on the other side.
New Zealanders refer to our own country often by its Maori name ‘Aotearoa’ which translates as 'the land of the long white cloud'. When I was growing up, sometimes we'd called it ‘Godzone’. It’s such an incredibly beautiful place, immortalized for many in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, but for me it wasn’t until I left and lived abroad that I started to really appreciate the powerful beauty of my homeland.
There’s a vitality in the land there that I’ve never experienced anywhere else on the planet – it feels young and vibrant, with sounds, smells and sights that make me feel like I’m in a Jurassic wonderland. I’ve gotten to see a lot of countries, cities and scenic vistas in my travels touring the world, but nothing yet has come close to capturing the awesome nature of New Zealand.
I made a trip back there recently and as soon as I landed in Auckland, I jumped in a rental car, headed out to the west coast, dropped my bags and went straight into the bush. With so much technology in our lives and for me at least, a life that revolves largely around large metropolitan cities, there’s something so unqiuely special about reconnecting with NZ's great outdoors. It was so revitalizing and grounding for me to hike through the nature there – the flora smells so sweet, the native plants with their familiar signature looks that you can’t find anywhere else, the native birds singing sounds that you’ll never hear anywhere else – and not another person in sight. To be there alone and able to take it all in grounded me in so much gratitude.
No matter how far forward technology takes us, how hyper-connected we are via our multiple internet based platforms, or how many lifestyle conveniences technology allows us, there’s nothing quite as meaningful to me as reconnecting with my homeland and finding my centre in that. That connection informs my humanity and my spirit – that in turn feeds directly into my art and craft, my music. No matter how many years it is since I left NZ, it always has a very special place in my life. After all, it’s always going to be home.