POP Okanagan SPECIAL FEATURE: Mark Irving

As we count down the days until Pop Okanagan in Kelowna, oook.ca contributor Katie Brennan sat down with 4 local musicians to hear their thoughts on Pop Okanagan and the Okanagan Music Scene and to find out when and where you can see them play during Pop Okanagan. Known for his honest vulnerability which is captured in raw vocal lyrical finesse and song writing genius, Mark Irving’s indie folk-rock music and performances are crafted to a large demographic and is sure to leave you inspired. In spring 2011, Mark Irving’s debut EP entitled “Memories of Tomorrow” was released. Now you can look forward to seeing him play at Pop Okanagan. Here’s Katie’s chat with local musician Mark Irving.


oook: How is it for you to be an independent musician in Kelowna? Do you tour a lot or do you play here quite regularly?

MI: Being an in independent musician in Kelowna has its challenges and rewards.  Being a smaller town you have an opportunity to be a strong presence in the community and to really be known on a personal level by many people, businesses and organizations.  As far as financial sustainability is concerned, its virtually impossible, without touring,  to achieve any sort of consistent cash flow.  The other issue that comes into play is market saturation.  You really can only play original material so many times a year in the same city and draw a consistent, interested crowd.  I play the MInstrel Cafe and the Bike shop cafe several times a year as well as the Habitat open mic and Parks Alive a few times in the summer.


oook: What are the available venues like in Kelowna?
MI: Venues in Kelowna are few but it really depends on your sound.  Some venues cater to solo artists others to bands.  The Kelowna Folk Club, Minstrel, Yellow House, Bike shop cafe do mellower stuff and then Habitat, Docs, Greatful Fed and the Bars want a full sound.


oook: What’s your sense of the music scene in Kelowna and in the whole Okanagan in general?
MI: The Kelowna music scene really varies from season to season.  I feel that the community is growing and that artists are becoming more aware of each other and more willing to co-bill or experiment with different events or shows.  Often artists that start here end up moving to Vancouver, Toronto or elsewhere to see if a bigger market will in fact profit their career.


oook: How has it changed in the last five years?
MI: The rise of Facebook and other social networking tools in the last 5 years have allowed venues and fans to find musicians as well as musicians to find each other.  I personally have seen an increase in social awareness in general in the last 5 years which has caused growth within the music community in Kelowna.


oook: What are your thoughts on playing Pop Okanagan?
MI: Playing POP Okanagan is a great opportunity to get out and celebrate local talent.  Regardless of lack of payment its still a good idea.  I don’t see a downside to this event.


oook: What do you think Pop Okanagan brings to Kelowna?
MI: POP brings a greater sense of musical community, celebrates local talent and encourages people to come out to a great event and enjoy other people and music in a beautiful city.


oook: How do you think Pop Okanagan compares to Breakoutwest?
MI: Breakout west and POP Okanagan are very similar.  The only difference in my opinion will be the lack of the “West Coast Music Awards” which was what BreakoutWest was created around.  So it’s still a good weekend that looks much like Breakoutwest as far as live music is concerned and it will be awesome if we can have a similar turn out to last year and even make POP Okanagan an annual event.


oook: What are you working on right now?
MI: Personally I am gearing up for a mini tour in Alberta that sees me in Lethbridge, Calgary, Edmonton, Three Hills and Red Deer.  I am also planning a cross Canada tour for the spring with Josh Smith another great local artist. I released an EP called “Memories of tomorrow” in June of 2011 and I am currently writing and plan to record and release a full length record by fall of ’12


oook: Where and when will you be playing for Pop Okanagan?
MI: For POP Okanagan I will be playing at the Greatful Fed @ 8pm on Thursday October 13 as well as at Memphis Blues on the 14th of October @ 11pm.

To Find Out More about Mark Irving:
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