The Citizen (Gauteng)

Sweet smell of Stent’s success

SUGAR: ‘ LATEST ALBUM IS WHO I AM’ Isolation of lockdown allowed the musician to tune into himself.

- Citizen reporter

Covid-19 stopped the music industry in its tracks. Those who relied on live gigs had to come up with new ways to share their music and for internatio­nally acclaimed DJ and producer Mark Stent, this was not necessaril­y a bad thing. It even spurred him on to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming South African artists

Stent, who has just launched his fourth solo album, Sugar, said: “We had to figure out how to get closer to fans, from a distance. It was actually a great opportunit­y to move away from what was becoming formulaic and monotonous and reboot – free from the physical exhaustion that goes hand in hand with constant gigging. Now the work is in the content creation and engagement.”

When lockdown hit, Stent, who has a BSC degree in mathematic­s and statistics, relied on data to tap into the psyche of social media users, by launching Mark Stent Fitness and Just Me Meditation­s.

“Fitness and health are at the core of my being and who I am. Mark Stent Fitness ness is a personal project to help others feel great and learn to love their bodies and its capabiliti­es.

“Just Me Meditation­s helps find those small moments of me-time and learn how to live more in the present, slow down and find ways to relax,” said Stent.

On the music front, Stent also started doing sets via livestream every Sunday. “It was more of an experiment and a way to keep myself busy, but they really took off. I think it came at the right time as people were bored and were needing some interactio­n with the outside world.

“My streams at the peak of lockdown in April had thousands of people logging in. That’s when I realised that the audience is there, it’s just about adapting my approach.

“I can honestly say I have never been busier, or more creative. I am learning every day, and that’s been one of the gifts of the pandemic. I realise now that in order to stay ahead, you need to keep up with the changing digital landscape, dream and create for a new normal, use music to bring positive beats to difficult times, and, above all, to be true to yourself. It was a good kick in the right direction.”

This “kick” also birthed Sugar, a sweet nod to Stent’s evolution as an artist and to how he views life at the moment. “This album is a lot more musical and house music orientated. It has a nice mix of dance-ability, feeling, energy and emotion. In the past I have spent so much time trying to please everyone else and respond to the current trends.

“I feel like in this album I have done more of what I personally want to do. It was created over lockdown and I had a lot of time to think about what I truly enjoy doing. I love pianos and organs and this album is full of them. I feel like this album reflects who I am as an artist.”

The album also features up-and-coming local artists who reached out to Stent on social media.

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