We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Needham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Why did you pursue an artistic career?
It was a path I started down at a very young age. I received my first guitar, from my mom and dad, at the age of four.
I received my second guitar, a real guitar, a Gibson, when I was 9 years old (bought at a music instrument store in Eureka CA, also purchased for me from my mom and dad) and found that I was very interested in the arts, specifically music, theater and also I liked to study electronics.
My hometown (Fairhaven, CA) was very small, about 75 people total. This fact motivated me to try to move from Fairhaven to a larger town where I felt there would be more opportunity for me to pursue my interest in music.
In my early teen years during high school, I accelerated my daily school schedule so I was able to graduate (early) at the end of my junior year when I was 16, and move to San Francisco with my high school guitar teacher Steve Strauss, who offered me an opportunity to help him start a rock music school, which became and still is, The Blue Bear School of Music.
After my early graduation, I moved to San Francisco, worked with him at the school and after finding an unused closet in the school building, a book on recording, a microphone, an old tube pre amp and a used Sony 2 track tape recorder, I started my first music studio (in that closet), recording the school students and records for a company called Kicking Mule Records (my clients at the time included: Duck Baker and Steve Grossman).
The experience I gained at Blue Bear and in that first ‘closet studio’ gave me the confidence to leave the school and open my second music studio, called Bear West. My clients at this studio included: Taj Mahal and Chris Isaak.
Since Bear West, I’ve owned (and worked in) several music studios in the San Francisco Bay Area and then in Los Angeles CA, working with many other record companies, and with some really extraordinary artists on their music (Dolly Parton, The Killers and Imagine Dragons to name a few!). I also recognized that from an early age, I knew I was very interested in finding and developing artists as well as recording, and I’ve had several projects that I’ve helped to launch, then and now. It’s a great feeling to know I contributed to these artists music, which in some cases, is known worldwide.
However, sometimes I feel that I have been walking on a tight rope without a net my entire life choosing this type of musical/artistic career, but I just continue to work hard, trust my instincts and make it to the other side, where the goal is always to create great music. I’m very proud of the music I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work on and currently I own and work in two music studios, one in Los Angeles CA and the other in Nashville TN.
To see the artists and music I’ve produced/mixed/engineered go to: markneedham.com
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
1. visit: The Hollywood sign, only us locals know, there is a little known street that is actually in Burbank, that has access to the sign, the closest you can get!
2. eat: the last two meals I had at these places were great w/ wonderful views: The Tower Bar at The Sunset Tower Hotel & The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel
3. drink: Chateau Marmont & Sunset Marquis – lots of music history, past & present at both these places, and a great bar too!
4: hang out: Griffith Park/The Griffith Observatory – my LA studio is located in Griffith Park, I feel this is one of the most beautiful places in LA to come, hang, eat at, drink at, and see the view of LA from the Observatory
Mark V. Lord, photographer