Born and raised in Perth WA, our Artiste of the Month, Father Mark Baumgarten, is bringing his music to the church.  He is currently working as the parish priest at St Francis Xavier Parish in Armadale, after being ordained to the priesthood in 2014. Recently inspired by the lockdown, Fr Mark is back in the studio working to re-discover his new style of music, as he works towards releasing his new song in time for Easter. Earlier this month we had a chat about his musical journey and plans...

How did you first get into music?

We had an organ then a piano in the house growing up, which I would regularly play away on.  I only had a handful of lessons (I was too stubborn), but I was blessed with a good ear and a mathematical mind that helped me figure out patterns among the notes and chords.  In due course I would spend time in a couple of choirs and cover bands, as well as a job playing background dinner music on river cruises.  Song-writing emerged as a means of processing the more significant life events that would come up.

What influences your music?

Obviously the music I like to listen to is an influence on my song-writing, with my tastes probably becoming a bit more eclectic and old-school as I get older.  Sometimes it’s a random riff or lyric idea that gets stuck in my head; sometimes it’s hearing a great song and thinking, “I want to write something like that”; sometimes it’s from playing a wrong note on the piano and thinking, “That sounded pretty good!”.

Describe your creative process.

It’s a bit like journaling or taking a photograph.  Some event or theme in my life grabs my attention to the point where I say, “I think there’s a song in this.”  Sometimes I can file the idea away for later if I’m too busy at the time, but once the song-writing has begun in earnest I generally need to get the bulk of it done within 2-3 days before the spirit of the moment passes.

How does faith tie into your music?

The more serious songs I wrote in my youth were generally either about my spiritual searching or love songs.  So as I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith and then began studying for the priesthood, I wasn’t sure what if anything would happen with my song-writing.  Obviously I wouldn’t be writing love songs in the conventional sense; I didn’t feel inclined to write praise and worship music; and I don’t feel qualified to write liturgical music – so I wasn’t sure what was left.  I’m slowly rediscovering my song-writing voice within this context – suffice to say that lockdown 2020 helped get the creative juices flowing again!

How did you find Artisan Music and how was your time working in the studio?

I was looking to produce an original song for a church project, and mutual friends of Patrick recommend him highly.  I’ve since returned for a few more projects and I’m now working on a debut album. Patrick and Simon are good fun and they know their stuff.  I generally have a decent feel for what I’m looking for musically, but I’m a bit of a novice in technical matters, so I rely on their know-how and honest feedback.

Check out Fr Mark’s new song, Easter Sunday Morning, recorded & mixed at Artisan Music!