Mark Poston Launches Art Brut Management With First Signing Kommunion (EXCLUSIVE)
Mark Poston is back in the music business.
The former EMI Australasia chairman officially launches Art Brut Management with first signing Kommunion, the electronic music collective led by Alex Burnett and U.K.-based Anita Blay.
Kommunion hasn’t had to wait long for positive feedback. Its first single, the joyful “Lose My Cool,” this week is added to triple j and double j, something “which doesn’t happen that often straight out the box,” Poston remarks.
Trent Titmarsh Media & PR Services is working the single at radio and media.
Poston’s new venture and its first project might not exist were it not for the pandemic.
The music industry veteran made a swift return home at the dawn of the health crisis, calling time on a five-year stint in Los Angeles where he worked on a string of music and media projects.
Had COVID-19 been contained, Poston might still be in sunny SoCal.
During the darkest days of lockdown, Poston was introduced to the work of Burnett and Blay by an old friend.
Introductions were made over coffee in central Sydney, as Poston and Burnett immediately found common ground. Their chat covered the importance of language and aesthetic, visuals and “how much we love artists who build a world of their own around them,” he recounts. “A song, a typeface, an artwork and how it fits in the world of the artist.”
Within a week, Poston had agreed to manage the act. “The whole thing was born out of a love for soul music, house music and club music culture. It was their creative response to wondering when would we all be able to get together and dance again. It was a very real, inspired conversation.”
Poston hit upon the name Art Brut, the “outsider” art movement that emerged from France in the early 20th century. “I always felt like an outsider. And the best and most interesting artists and creatives are working outside the lines anyway — David Bowie, Frank Ocean, Kate Bush, Prince, Genesis Owusu,” he comments.
“Art Brut felt right. It felt like the right intention and the right vibe for an artist management company. All the freaks, they’re the best people.”
Poston enters the artist management side with three decades’ experience in music across three continents, including a stint as chairman and senior VP marketing, Australasia at EMI Music Australia, during which time he signed the likes of Empire of The Sun, Angus and Julia Stone and Birds of Tokyo.
Poston joined EMI Music Australia in 2000 as label manager, Virgin Records before rising to head of Capitol Records in Australia. In 2005, he relocated to London as director, global marketing and director of EMI U.K. frontline label Angel Music Group/Charisma. He returned in 2008 to lead EMI Music Australia. He’d leave the major music company five years later, as EMI’s sale and integration into Universal Music Group neared completion.
Following a year-long sabbatical, Poston was appointed managing director for the Australian companies of Parlophone and Warner Bros. Records, and later headed Stateside.
“I always like to evolve and keep learning. And keep moving,” he tells TMN. “There are so many moving parts (in artist management) it takes a lot of patience. The good days are really fantastic, because its always nice to help and encourage creative people, and nurture talent. It’s good to be on the other side and make sure things are being done properly with the right care and attention and nurturing a place of projects.”
Will Art Brut Management add a label sometime down the track? “It is entirely possible,” Poston admits.
With Kommunion, and their well-received first single, which the Art Brut founder describes as “serotonin hit, a banger” and “an ear worm,” the act is primed to catch the new dance music wave.
A glance at the charts here and in the U.K. reveals that music fans, locked up for so long, now have dance fever.
The hottest song this summer in the U.K., LF System’s “Afraid to Feel” has led the Official U.K. Chart for eight weeks – and counting – and recently ruled a survey on which four of the top five tracks were dance tunes, a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen since September 2016.
Even Drake and Beyonce have dropped albums with house influences.
Poston has a theory. “There are two energies happening in music. First is a response of anger which is usually in protest,” he explains, identifying Idles and Amyl and the Sniffers as prime examples.
“The other is escapism and hedonism, which clearly serves a function of forgetting about the world and losing yourself in music and responding to upbeat positive music, which is the place we’re coming from. The world needs those two energies right now.”
He concludes, “We’re all been through this unimaginable upheaval. It makes sense that the musical energy would manifest itself in those main ways. Music and art is really good when its responding to the world around you. Hopefully Kommunion can be a part of that.”