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Mark Mills once again brings sexy R&B to Sled Island music festival

By Jason Herring, June 11 2015 —

Mark Mills radiates positivity when he talks about music. And he has a lot to be happy about — the former Calgary electro-pop musician recently welcomed a second child, moved back to his hometown of Vancouver and released his second full-length album, Triple Fire Sign, a record he describes as “sensual R&B with Casio synthesizers.”

Mills returns to Calgary for Sled Island’s pre-show at Lukes Drug Mart on June 12, where he’ll open for Owen Pallett and Royal Canoe. Mills is known locally for energetic live shows punctuated by crowd interaction and his unrestrained dance moves.

“Movement is a big part of my set and a lot of my musical inspiration comes from dance,” Mills says. “In a lot of cases, the idea of movement and dance can feel heavily sexualized and I try to remove that judgement from it and focus on the energetic expression of dance and movement.”

Most of Mills’ songs openly talk about sexuality, and the artist often hip-thrusts his way across the stage. But for an afternoon concert at a venue like Lukes Drug Mart, Mills says his main goal is to accommodate everyone in the crowd.

“Every time I get on stage, I assess the crowd and the demographic. I stay true to who I am, but I definitely take into consideration who’s in the crowd,” Mills says. “It gets sassy and spicy in an 18-plus event, so it’s kind of fun and amusing to modify any lyrics to be considerate when there’s going to be children there.”

Mills says one of the biggest difficulties he had when relocating to Vancouver was establishing himself in a new music scene. Though he initially had difficulties finding a niche, Mills says he quickly settled into a new performance scene — comedy.

“I’ve had an amazing time connecting with the comedy scene in Vancouver. A lot of people in that scene think I’m a comedian because my shows are pretty light-hearted,” Mills says. “I’ve done a lot of guest spots at comedy shows where I’ll be the musical guest and a lot of people come up to me after the show and ask me if I ever do a full set of music.”

Mills is embracing his newfound comic talents, but he wasn’t always open to people laughing at him on stage. He recalls a concert where he spotted a group of people laughing hysterically at his disco dance. Mills says he felt upset about the incident until he realized how much joy people were experiencing from something he did.

“At first when people laughed at me, it hurt. As a musician, to have people laugh at you, it was a struggle,” Mills says. “But then it was an epiphany of another way I could connect to people as a performer. The main idea is that people let loose and have a good time. If they’re laughing at me or crying with me, it doesn’t make much of a difference anymore.”

Mark Mills will bring his sexy, comedic R&B stylings to Lukes Drug Mart on Sunday, June 14 at 1:00 p.m. Admission is free.

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