Mark Stewart (English musician)

Mark Stewart (10 August 1960 – 21 April 2023) was an English singer and founding member of the Pop Group.[2] A pioneer of post-punk and industrial music, he recorded for On-U Sound Records, Mute Records, and Future Noise Music, and released solo and collaborative output on several other independent labels such as Crippled Dick Hot Wax! and eMERGENCY heARTS.

Mark Stewart
Stewart performing in 2015 with the Pop Group
Stewart performing in 2015 with the Pop Group
Background information
Born(1960-08-10)10 August 1960
Bristol, England
Died21 April 2023(2023-04-21) (aged 62)
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active1977–2023
LabelsMute Records, On-U Sound Records, Future Noise Music, Freaks R Us

Career

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Stewart was educated at Bristol Grammar School, one of Bristol's private schools, and was in the same year as guitarist Nick Sheppard, who went on to play with the Clash and the Cortinas. Stewart began his music career in 1977 as a founder of the Pop Group, a band notable for sonic experimentation, political conviction and a willingness to collaborate.[3]

The Pop Group split in 1981, with Stewart and two other members heading off to London to hook up with the emerging On-U Sound "conspiracy of outsiders" as part of the New Age Steppers. On-U became a focal point of a diverse set of networks – punks, reggae players from both the UK and Jamaica[4] and free-jazzers. His first post-Pop Group release was as 'Mouth 2', the 1982 single "Who's Hot".[2] Two releases followed with On-U associates under the name 'Mark Stewart & The Maffia' – the Jerusalem EP in 1983, and the 1983 album Learning to Cope with Cowardice.[2]

Stewart made several albums under his own name as well as collaborating with artists such as Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame, Tricky, Massive Attack, Chicks on Speed, ADULT., Algiers and Primal Scream. In 2005, he released a collection of his best work on Soul Jazz Records entitled Kiss the Future.

Stewart was well known in several European countries and Japan.[citation needed] He was involved in a documentary filmed by Tøni Schifer, "On/Off – Mark Stewart – from The Pop Group to the Maffia", which included interviews with Nick Cave, Daniel Miller, former Pop Group members, Adrian Sherwood, Skip McDonald, Doug Wimbish, Keith LeBlanc, Fritz Catlin (23 Skidoo) and others. The premiere took place at the East End Film Festival in April 2009.[5]

Mark's work prompted Nick Cave to declare that, as a member of the Pop Group, Stewart "changed everything".[6] Reflecting on his influence, Mark says, "I thought I was making funk music, but a track on Veneer of Democracy supposedly inspired all the American [Sic] industrialists, like Front Line Assembly and Skinny Puppy, while another track supposedly inspired the Bristol kids. It happens all the time. I've got this nonchalance that nothing is sacred so I'll crash a Slayer guitar line with Rotterdam gabba beats. For me, it's like colours. I grew up doing montages; like I did this collage of Ronald Reagan's head on this gay porno cowboy. In fact, I've never really grown up at all. I'm still trying to put round things into square holes."[citation needed]

In 2011, Stewart collaborated with New York-based artist-writer Rupert Goldsworthy, forming The New Banalists Orchestra, a collective featuring a host of artists and associates, including John Sinclair (poet), Youth (musician), David Tibet, Penny Rimbaud & Eve Libertine. Their sole output to date, entitled "Mammon", was released in 2011.

Stewart released his next solo single through Future Noise Music on Black Friday 25 November 2011. The double A-side "Children of the Revolution" / "Nothing Is Sacred" features The Bug, Crass's Eve Libertine, Berlin's Slope and Pop Group bassist Dan Catsis. This paved the way for Stewart's 2012 album, The Politics of Envy, released on 26 March 2012, also on Future Noise Music. Tackling mass media, modern capitalism and consumer apathy,[7] it features a cast including Kenneth Anger, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Richard Hell, The Raincoats' Gina Birch, Primal Scream, and Clash/PiL guitarist Keith Levene.[8]

As well as music, Stewart has been involved in conceptual art. He collaborated once again with Rupert Goldsworthy on a show entitled "I AM THE LAW" displayed at Ritter/Zamet gallery in New York and London from January until March 2012. Dazed described the show as "an expo where found objects, wall paintings and scrawled writings come together in a ritualistic pile-on of references...an effort to explore cultural myths, symbols, signs and 'radical brands' – the power of representation, charged with dystopian views, prison gates and rioting crowds."[9]

Stewart remained active in a number of other solo projects and collaborations. 2013 saw him write and contribute vocals to Primal Scream's "Culturecide", a track featured on More Light and in 2014 he produced and provided vocals for "Shame & Pain", a track which featured Thurston Moore and was collected on a Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project compilation.

The next year saw Stewart remix both "Space Junk" by The Membranes and "Death Trip To Tulsa" by the Mark Lanegan band whilst also providing vocals for "Schizoid Fairytale", a track by Jim Johnston. A couple of years later, in 2017, Stewart wrote several tracks for "London Town", an album released by ex-Sugarhill Gang and regular On-U Sound Records cohort Little Axe.

In 2018, Stewart remixed "Ndrangheta Allotment" by Meatraffle and wrote and featured on the track "Stratosphere Girl" on More Disco Songs About Love, the third LP from Los Angeles duo De Lux. He also featured on the track "Fight Fire With Fire" by Lay Llamas. In 2021, Stewart collaborated with Algiers on their Nun Gun project where he featured heavily on both the Mondo Decay and Stealth Empire (In Dub) albums. He collaborated with several artists in the mashup album VS, released in 2022. That same year, Stewart featured on the 12" vinyl EP "! WASTED !", released by tribal/industrial band Lampredonto on Italian cult label UR Suoni. Stewart sang lead vocals on the original version of the "! WASTED !" title-track, as well as producing a remix, entitled "Toxic Waste", along with Dutch producer and On-U Sound associate Uncle Fester On Acid (AKA Patrick Dokter).

Death

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Stewart died on 21 April 2023, at age 62.[10][11]

Solo discography

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References

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  1. ^ "Mark Stewart – Biography, Albums, Streaming Links – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (1999) "The Great Alternative & Indie Discography", Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  3. ^ Wadden, Brent (June 2007). "Mark Stewart/The Pop Group Interview". www.hairentertainment.com. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  4. ^ Reed, S. Alexander (2013). Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 211–212. ISBN 978-0-19-983258-3.
  5. ^ "East End Film Festival". www.eastendfilmfestival.com. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  6. ^ Cave, Nick. "The impact of We Are All Prostitutes". The Red Hand Files. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  7. ^ Robin Murray (14 February 2012). "Mark Stewart's UK Tour Dates". Clash Music. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  8. ^ "News | Mark Stewart Returns With New Album". The Quietus. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  9. ^ Dazed Digital (5 March 2012). "Mark Stewart: I AM THE LAW". Dazed. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  10. ^ Doran, John (21 April 2023). "The Quietus | News | Mark Stewart Of The Pop Group Has Died Aged 62". The Quietus. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  11. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (21 April 2023). "Mark Stewart, Pop Group frontman and revered countercultural musician, dies aged 62". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2023.

Further reading

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