A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to sit down with Mark Damboragian, a junior here at Fairfield. While he’s majoring in Marketing and minoring in Business analytics, Mark is much more than just a student. Mark is an artist. For his entire childhood and teenage years, Mark kept his talent a secret from everyone around him, not even telling his parents. In this interview, we talk about how he got to where he is now, his greatest inspirations, and the vulnerability of art.
When did you start making music?
MA: Actually, I never told anyone that I could sing. Growing up, I never sang in the shower or in the car or any of those stereotypical places that people sing. I’d wait for the moments when I was completely and utterly alone and I would sing to myself. I was scared that people would judge me or critique me and I was nervous I wouldn’t be good enough. In High School, I had a friend who made music, so out of curiosity one day I asked her how she writes a song. She told me her method, which I found cool at the time and just stored in my memory. Fast forward about 2 years, and there I was, the summer before Freshman year of college: bored out of my mind. I sat at the piano, and I came up with something... and I kind of liked it. So then I put words to it. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of about 2 years, and I was pretty upset, so I wrote about that. I recorded it in my voice memos for safekeeping and thought about showing my parents, but didn’t know if I wanted to. I felt so vulnerable about showing people– I was so scared of rejection. That night, I jumped off the cliff and made a group chat with my parents and sent it, telling them to listen to it when they got a chance- leaving out that it was me singing. I went to work that night and was checking my phone whenever I could find a second off, finally getting a text from my Mom towards the end of my shift. She said they really liked the song and wanted to know who was singing it. I kind of assumed that they’d know it was me, but they didn’t, so I told them it was me, and they freaked out. They had no idea that I could sing. I started showing my friends and people that I knew would be honest with me, and they thought it was good too. Ever since then, I’ve been making music. I taught myself guitar a year and a half ago and I’ve been trying to get better at producing and meeting people. Over winter break I made a few demos of my best songs to send to producers that I’ve met.
Why did you start making music?
MA: Before I did music I was really into film. I always had ideas of what I wanted to make, but I was never good enough with cameras- I would get frustrated. I liked editing more than I liked filming because I liked having more control over the process. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so I like to oversee everything and make sure everything is perfect before I release a finished product. Then I stopped doing that since I wasn’t that good at it, and decided to try pursuing something I had (quietly) been doing my entire life, which was music. My creative outlet kind of morphed into music and it’s worked out. I also hate the idea of sitting in a cubicle. I could never be one of those people, I love being creative in any way that I can.
What has been your greatest challenge?
MA: Initially, my parents were really into it. However, there’s this pressure to have your life completely planned out. We go to school, apply to college, go to school again, and get a job. Everything is so cookie cutter and set out- so obviously my parents were like that. There’s this pressure and tension from my parents, like music is cool, but make sure you’re still getting all A’s. So that’s been a challenge, but it’s kind of taught me to stand up for what is important to me. My parents have become more accepting of the fact that music is something I love because I’ve stood up for it.
At this point the interview becomes more of a conversation and we ended up talking about Mark’s experience with The Voice.
“I got recruited through Instagram to be on the Voice. I made it through a bunch of rounds getting to go to LA a few times, but, in the end, unfortunately it didn’t work out. I did get meet a lot of people from all around the country that are super talented and got to work with some state-of-the-art equipment, which of course was amazing.”
Have you done any cool collabs?
MA: No, unfortunately. I don’t know of many people on this campus who are into music. I’ve worked with Hunter Brown, but there just aren’t that many people on this campus who are into it. I wish I had a friend or someone who would want to be in a band with me, or who was just sick at drums– but that’s just not Fairfield. There are so many positives of going to Fairfield, but I wish it was artsier.
Why the recent name change?
MA: I’ve always wanted a name that was more unique than “Mark D.”, but I don’t like names that don’t have any significance. I could have just used my real last name, but its so long and confusing that I didn’t want to. So I was talking to my mom andI told her I wanted it to include my real last name in some way into a stage name, and she said “What about Mark Ambor?”, which I instantly liked. You pronounce it like the color and no one has that name yet.
Who is your dream collaboration with?
MA: I really like The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, James Bay, and Hozier I like them all. Ever being able to work with one of them would be insane.
Who is your favorite artist right now?
MA: It might be a little fad- but I really like Maggie Rogers right now, I’m also starting to like a band called Bleachers.
Who do you believe is the next big thing?
MA: I’m pretty bad at discovering new music because I’m constantly working on my own music and trying to make it better. I also don’t really like the trend of people covering other people to “make it”. I feel like this makes an atmosphere to compare artists, which I’m not a fan of. So I guess I don’t really have an answer for that.
Should we be expecting an album?
MA: So I just sent out demos, and I’m waiting to hear back- but if/when one of the producers bites we would produce a solid EP to be released. Hopefully, the producers that I sent to will bite, and if a label is getting told by an established produce to listen to a certain artist, then the chances of a label signing me are much greater. Even a one album deal would be really cool to get to work on and see how it all works out.
Anything in the meantime?
MA: Actually, yea! I released a single TODAY called Fever that I’ve been working on that is nothing like anything I have ever done before. Its very Coldplay-ish and way more pop than I thought I’d ever like doing. I made it very naturally and didn’t force it to turn out the way it did. I think people are going to really like it because it’s pretty catchy.
What is your greatest piece of advice for aspiring artists?
MA: I feel like I should be telling myself this too: no one cares more than you do. There’s no reason to be scared or feel vulnerable to the point that it inhibits you. Take away that vulnerability- we all get caught up in our heads. I wish I wouldn’t get so caught up in mine. However, I think there is value in some vulnerability because it gives an edge and creates a relatable feeling, which I think is necessary in art.
What do the next 5 years look like for you?
MA: So in a year– graduate from school. Keep sending out demos- try and get a producer to like me. After school, maybe just go on the road and promote my music and see what happens. It depends on a lot of things, and my plans could change depending on a lot of things. Definitely graduate, produce an EP, and get signed to a label are my goals for my future right now.
Pursuing one’s passion can be one of the hardest, but most rewarding things in life. We must at times ask what will bring us the most happiness. Doing what our society and the world tell us to do- or going after what we want with the possibility of failureon the line. Thank you so much to Mark for sharing his story with not only me, but all of you. We can all learn so much from his pursuit of his passion.
Listen to Mark’s new single, Fever, on Spotify.
All my love,
Eleanor Davis, Editor in Chief