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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