Mark Smythe: Moto Mojo


‘Moto’ is the common musical term for movement and ‘Mojo’, while originally a magical charm bag used in hoodoo, is generally the term by which people measure their levels of confidence, self-esteem and sex appeal. Mike Myers popularised the word in his Austin Powers films. Like the protagonist of these risqué spy escapades, I lost my Mojo in the final few months of 2011. Musically it had been one of my most successful years ever but fate, risky decisions and extreme personal circumstances all conspired to derail things. By the time I reached Wellington for a much-needed family Christmas, I was a shadow of my former insouciant self and burdened with disquiet. Yet, over five uncharacteristically sunny days I began to emerge from the gloom and the first sketches for Helen Webby’s project came out. From the start it felt like a something that somehow floated above the malaise; I was going for poise and purpose. The piece darkens in the middle before soaring back up and leveling out to a delicate reflection. On a technical note, using a delay effect for recording and performing the piece is integral to the ‘Moto’ of the ‘Mojo’.
 
Anecdotal footnote/tenuous link: Years ago I attempted to study composition at Otago Uni (bands and beers got in the way). I attended songwriting lectures with Graeme Downes, who one day was strumming along to an entirely predictable song I’d written but was then thrown by an unexpected chord. I’m quite sure it didn’t affect his mojo however.”
 
Mark Smythe studied composition with Jack Body at the New Zealand School of Music. He has worked as a composer / arranger / songwriter for nearly two decades in Australia and New Zealand. Mark’s composing style is drawn from a rich vein of influences; classical traditions meshed with rock sensibility and a pinch of electronica. Mark is currently based in Melbourne where he lectures at JMC Academy. He frequently visits LA to nurture film music opportunities, but always welcomes any chance to maintain composing ties with NZ.
 

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