Interview With Legendary Session Musician Mark Amato
Mark Amato is one of Australia's most in-demand session musicians. He was the musical director for both tv shows Good Morning Australia and The Voice Kids. Considered a musical chameleon, Mark has toured and performed with some of the biggest acts in the music business, including Tina Arena, Daryl Braithwaite, Roachford, and Kanye West.
Magesh, Musicngear: You were the musical director for The Voice Kids and Good Morning Australia. Can you talk about the responsibilities of a musical director on a tv show?
Being a musical director on TV shows like The Voice Kids and Good Morning Australia was a whirlwind of excitement and challenges. My main gig was to make sure all the musical elements came together seamlessly. This involved working closely with the show's producers and creative team to pick the perfect songs for each performance. I also had the task of arranging and rehearsing the tracks, so the contestants could shine like stars on stage.
TV is a corporate world, no doubt about it. So, while I was all about staying true to the musical craft I love, I also had to balance things out, keeping the musicians and the band happy was another key part of my job. They were my team, my family - so I made sure their well-being was paramount.
This included making sure they got paid on time to keeping their spirits high with some good-natured jokes on the talkback mic, it was all about creating a fun and collaborative atmosphere.
During the live shows, I had to be in sync with everyone, from the host and stage managers to the sound engineers. It was like being the conductor of a musical circus, but I loved every minute of it!
Be a musical chameleon. Don't just stick to one genre like glue. Embrace different styles, be open to new sounds, and keep your musical taste buds tingling
Did you need to be able to read music at a high level to perform on television?
Being able to read music at a high level is convenient, but it's not the only way. I gave the musicians cuts of the tracks, and they'd use their own magic to bring the music to life. It was like letting them loose on a musical playground, and they make the most of it.
In some cases, especially on shows like The Voice with its avalanche of tracks, having a killer memory was the secret sauce. It's not easy remembering all those songs and nailing every performance. That's where being able to read music makes your job easier.
For me, it was a mix of both worlds. I was lucky to have a blend of reading skills and a memory, which made the TV gigs even more exciting and fun!
What equipment are you currently endorsing?
Ha, no endorsements at the moment. I've been around the block, and I've had the chance to try out lots of keyboards over the years. Right now, the ones that tickle my musical fancy the most are my trusty Kurzweil keyboards. I've got a whole collection of them, and they just sound right and feel great to play.
Music is all about making connections and jamming with like-minded souls
Is there any studio equipment or keyboards you use on a recording session regardless of the style of music you are playing?
My Kurzweil keyboards are like my musical sidekicks; they go wherever I go. I'm talking about versatility here. I've also got a Yamaha MODX+ that's got its own bag of tricks. And let's not forget all my soft synths. It’s all about having the right tools for the job, and you need to have them all ready and know how they work.
Can you talk about projects you are currently involved with?
I'm currently in the middle of quite a few projects. I've relocated from Melbourne to the NSW/QLD border, so it's like a whole new chapter for me, and I'm loving it.
I’m still touring with some Australian music legends, sharing the stage, and playing the songs that I grew up to with the original artists is something else.
I’m embracing new experiences, expanding my musical network, and creating some kick-ass memories along the way.
Μusic is all about having fun. If you're genuinely loving what you do, people and opportunities will be drawn to you
Do you have any advice for young musicians who want to make a career out of playing music?
First and foremost, practice, practice, practice, till your neighbors and family start plotting their escape! Seriously, honing your musical skills is the key to unlocking all those sweet opportunities.
Be a musical chameleon. Don't just stick to one genre like glue. Embrace different styles, be open to new sounds, and keep your musical taste buds tingling.
Never underestimate the power of networking. Connect with fellow musicians and industry professionals at every opportunity. You never know who might have the perfect gig or collaboration for you. Music is all about making connections and jamming with like-minded souls.
Most importantly, don't forget to have a blast while you're at it, music is all about having fun. If you're genuinely loving what you do, people and opportunities will be drawn to you.
In this section of the blog we host interviews with established but also up and coming artists we love and recommend as well as music industry professionals with tons of useful information to share.
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