The following is a Magazine feature coming out next week in Always Therro:
A Very Genuine Mark Manney
Mark Manney is an American Writer, Recording Artist, and Social Commentator who uses the alias “Abscondo” to share his ideas across multiple communication channels and art-forms.
Important ideas beg to be shared. Some ideas are best expressed through the emotion of music. Abscondo is a solo musician who released a well-received debut album called “Midnight Snow” in 2008. In November 2011, the artist released an ambitious full-length called “Victory in a Landlocked Sea”. Mark is a solo musician in the truest sense; performing almost everything on the albums, mixing it all in his home studio, and producing the final tracks to be released for free via Creative Commons. Songs on the albums were written while traveling through and living in places such as Seattle, Slovakia, London, Paris, Croatia, Barcelona, and Greece. In his uniquely comforting, melancholic sound you can feel his longing for authentic passion, love, and freedom despite a harsh world that relentlessly tries to push us in other directions.
Some ideas are best expressed through writing. Since 2004, on the Abscondo Blog, Mark Manney has put together what has become a life philosophy and worldview that connects personal topics such as love, happiness, life purpose, health, finance, and politics. While Mark willingly left Seattle to live in self-imposed exile in Eastern Europe, the ideas presented on the blog are as practical as they are romantic and relevant to anyone seeking a better, more authentic life. In March of 2011, Mark also published his political manifesto “Love It or Leave It: The End of Government as the Problem” which is available in print, ebook, and audio formats. In the book, he proposes realistic plan that would give Conservatives exactly what they say they want. By doing so, he exposes the fundamental problems with free market theory and Libertarian thought.
Still other ideas are best expressed through the dynamics of conversation. “The Abscondo Podcast” includes honest conversation and interviews with fascinating and accomplished guests. Mark is also an experienced talk-show guest who has appeared on dozens of AM and FM talk-radio shows across America.
Worthwhile ideas speak to our deepest truths, but also must be compatible with present-day reality. Mark is an MBA with more than 15 years of international business experience in the software industry. Even while living in Eastern Europe, recording music, and writing, he has also worked with many of the world’s top brands to generate $19 million in software revenue.
Abscondo does not believe in compromise. He has shown that being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean being a starving artist. Being a successful employee doesn’t necessarily mean staying in the same office for years (or even the same continent). Being an MBA doesn’t mean turning your back on human truths. Too often we accept these kinds of life trade-offs, and yet we live just once. Mark has shown, in his own life and through the ideas he presents on the blog and in the podcast, that most of the time it is possible to have the best of both worlds.
Mark is from Seattle but spends most of his time in Eastern Europe with his wife and young daughter.
What’s the first thing you would say to someone when they ask you to describe yourself as an artist?
I’m an independent-minded acoustic singer-songwriter who records comforting, melancholic music and makes it available to my fans for free. My songs are lyrically-driven because I make music to communicate ideas.
How long have you been in the industry?
I’m not in the music industry. I make a living in the software industry and I make music because I love music. Whenever I’ve tried to mix money with music, the result was that I spent a lot of money only to fail both commercially and artistically. My art is about meaning. Industry is about money. So I have decided to free my art by completely separating it from money. I spend almost nothing to record or write and I expect almost no financial return. My goal is only to record songs that I love and to reach an audience of appreciative fans.
Do you have any projects out now?
My second Abscondo solo album, which is the most ambitious effort to date, was released on November 11th 2011. You can download the album “Victory in a Landlocked Sea” for free on Jamendo or link from my blog (www.abscondo.com). My debut album, “Midnight Snow”, was released in 2008 also through Creative Commons (free download) on Jamendo and has thousands of downloads and 100,000′s of listens.
In 2011, I also published a political book called “Love It or Leave It: The End of Government as the Problem” which is available in every format (including free eBook). Visit www.markmanney.com to find out more. My other active projects are the monthly Abscondo Podcast and the regularly-updated Abscondo Blog.
What inspires your music?
I was a musical late-bloomer. I bought my first guitar at around age 20 and am entirely self-taught (though it took a long time because I mostly played alone and nobody was pushing me forward). I only became a huge music fan in my early 20′s (in the mid-1990′s). My real musical inspiration originally came from bands like Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, Pulp, Elliott Smith, and Travis. In the years leading up to my solo debut, the artists that influenced my sound the most include artists like Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, Camera Obscura, Badly Drawn Boy, Rufus Wainwright, early Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Bright Eyes, early Decemberists, Kings of Convenience, and of course hundreds of others.
But the truth is, it isn’t just the music that inspired me to create music. I began taking the art of songwriting seriously around the time I moved in Slovakia in 2005. Most of all, a songwriter needs to have something to say. This is the point in my life when, through so much personal exploration and experience, I discovered exactly what I wanted to say and the songs came naturally.
Where are you from?
I’m from small-town Wisconsin, went to University in Colorado Springs, lived for 5 years in Seattle (where I saw most of my favorite bands live). I have lived mostly in Slovakia, but also in Barcelona, Cannes, Paris, and London for short terms over the past 6 years. I find that wherever I’m located for more than 2 weeks quite naturally becomes home.
What artists in the industry inspire you the most today?
Aside from the artists already mentioned, lately I’ve been most excited about a few artists I discovered on Jamendo (Can’t Stop the Daggers, Orphan Songs, Screenatorium to name a few). My intention is to spend a lot more time exploring Creative Commons music. Sure, I bought the new Coldplay (a bit disappointing), Lisa Hannigan is currently getting a lot of plays, Tired Pony, Swell Season, Emiliana Torrini, and Imogen Heap (actually I like quite a few female vocalists these days). I could talk about other genres (such as my love for lounge music and trip-hop), but I’m not sure it inspires my music as directly as the artists I’ve mentioned.
Why is that?
I look to music to perceive beauty in even a common Tuesday morning. I like well-written and melodic songs, which are ideally a bit subversive, about authentic feelings. The artists I’ve mentioned seem to know how to reach me where I am and then they take me to somewhere slightly different, slightly better. This is probably also how I write songs. I start with an idea or topic that I happen to be working on at the time, or maybe I start with the geographical location I happen to be in, and then I try to go just a few steps toward an even better, even truer, or even more beautiful place. I think my listeners play my albums when they are looking for exactly the same thing.
What makes you different from other artist today?
I’m quite sure I’m entirely different from any other artist today (half-joking). Without even accounting for the music, itself, consider the fact that I’m an American MBA making a living in software sales, who lives mostly in Slovakia, who is a Writer, Social Commentator, and releases heart-felt, sensitive music for free. I believe in seeking the truth, embracing beauty, and searching for true freedom. None of this is found through compromises or trade-offs; rather, by seeking the best of both worlds in every aspect of life. I define my life through limitless possibility while others tend to define it through my obvious contradictions.
What do you want your future fans to know about you?
I want them to know that my life means nothing if lived only in my own, isolated bubble. I write and I record with the audience in mind. I go to extreme measures in my personal life because I hope to show them something that might improve their lives. I offer everything for free because I don’t want money to come between us. I also want them to know that I mean everything I say literally.