Need To Know: Woodpigeon

3.12.2010

By Noah Michelson

A man who has flown countless miles to New York City for romantic pursuits, Mark Hamilton considers himself a practicing, “orthodox” gay only when he leaves his home in Calgary. Indeed, it’s his border-crossing affairs that lie at the crux of the 31-year-old musician’s latest work.

As the core member of Woodpigeon, a rotating folk-pop ensemble in which more than 60 of his friends have played, Hamilton creates bittersweet, lushly orchestrated songs that have earned him comparisons to Sufjan Stevens (they even boast similarly long, jokey titles). His new album, Die Stadt Muzikanten (translation: “the city musicians”), was inspired partly by his grandparents’ postwar trek from Austria to Canada when his mother was 7, partly by his own trip to Berlin in 2006, and partly by his quixotic vision of love. In the track “Redbeard,” for instance, a man swims after a pirate who destroyed his home and family only to realize when he finally catches him that he’s been in love with the marauder all along. “It’s a ridiculous example of how far you’ll go for love when you’re younger,” the musician explains.

Additionally, hidden in the album’s sleeve is Hamilton’s pet project, Balladeer / To All the Guys I’ve Loved Before, another record containing 12 very personal “coming-out” songs about past paramours. “I wanted to be as specific as possible,” Hamilton says. “One of the songs is even named after the guy I lost my virginity to.”

Recently we caught up with Mark for an exclusive Out.com Face to Face video:

Afterward, he was kind enough to perform an acoustic version of his song "Redbeard":

Die Stadt Muzikanten is in stores now.

-- JASON LAMPHIER

Previously > Need To Know: Lay Low

Tags: Popnography
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