Feels good to finally get settled in, as I finally made the move to Nashville. Yes, that was two months ago, but life has been crazy! After 4 months of student teaching it feels good to get back in the swing and be able to put these articles out - highlighting the amazing rising talent in Country Music and getting to know a little about these individuals as well as their music. I’m happy to finally get this one out and thankful for Mark’s patience, as we did this interview back in August! I sat down with Mark Ledlin and we talked about his single “Don’t Hurt Tomorrow”, balancing his life in hockey and music, and advice he’d give to his younger self.
Get To Know Mark
"I was born and raised in a small town in Germany, just south of Munich. My dad was a professional hockey player for 20 years. We moved to Vancouver, Canada when I was about 5 years old; my sisters are all Canadian. Fast forward 17 years. It was when I went back to Germany to play hockey that I discovered music. Like everybody else, I sang in the shower and I sang in the car and was like "wow... I have a little bit of talent, maybe I could do something with this". But I never really thought too much about it. Everyone goes through the highs and lows, especially as an athlete. I hit a real low because of not being home for graduation, not being around in the summer to see my friends and I just felt like time was passing me by.
My dad played guitar when I was growing up and like every son, you can never let your dad teach you anything. When I was in Germany I bought my own guitar which was $40. Picked it up for the wrong reasons - I was like "chicks would love the guitar"... but I fell in love with it for the right reason - it brought me out of a real dark hole I was in by myself. Music changed my life from dreading waking up in the morning to "I can not wait to wake up and write a new song, play a new song or learn new chords". For me, music has been the biggest focus in my life for the last 6 years. About 2 and a half years ago, I started writing music but it was only this past summer I put my foot down and said I wanted to do Country Music. I felt like I emulated Country Music the most and it could best describe my life. I’d done singer-songwriter stuff because it was cheaper, but when I started making some money with hockey, I put my foot down and started releasing Country songs. I am tracking about 7 songs right now that will be cut and ready to go. By next summer I should be ready to put out an album."
Raw and Real
Mark Ledlin showcases his smooth, crisp voice, which is made for radio in his single "Don't Hurt Tomorrow". Since diving into Country Music and finding his true sound, Mark has thrived with his raw and real lyrics that are simplistic for listeners ears, but have complex, deeper meaning that songwriters appreciate. Mark Ledlin is a diamond in the rough, who is quickly making a name for himself in Country Music. Excited to see Mark's progress moving forward.
Inspiration Behind "Don't Hurt Tomorrow"
Written By: Dan Botch, Garrett Ward & Mark Ledlin, Produced By: Dan Botch & Garrett Ward
"No one is a stranger to a heartbreak. However, “Don’t Hurt Tomorrow” isn’t solely inspired by a relationship heartbreak. Rather it is inspired by the idea that you never get the same moment twice in life. Truly understanding that being in the moment of today doesn’t hurt tomorrow just yet. I used the song and my experiences in life to hopefully inspire more people to fall in love with today, rather than the idea of tomorrow."
Q & A With Mark Ledlin
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment that you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "It was super cool. I picked up a guitar back in 2018 and just started learning some songs. "Fast Car" was the first song I ever performed. You learn 4 chords, you learn 1,000 songs... it's just how it goes. Probably my 3rd year pro hockey we had a guy retire because of an injury. The guys knew I played music because I'm very open with it on social media. My manager on the team came to me and asked if I wanted to play an intermission show for Justin (Kelly) on the ice. I said absolutely! In hockey you have 22 brothers all year, you want to be there for them. I got to play one of the singer-songwriter songs I’d done and then played "Take Me Home, Country Roads". There were about 3,500 people in the arena. There's a video of it on YouTube; when the second the chorus hit, everyone was singing it back. It was a high I could never get rid of. From that moment, I was like "this is it" and started pursuing music. I auditioned for The Voice, started releasing music and played Boots & Hearts. It is pretty insane!"
Q: What's it like balancing both hockey and Country Music?
A: "It's definitely tough. It's like being a dual sport athlete - the more things you put on your plate, the more stressful it's going to be. I wake up and get my workout in. I have to make sure that I'm singing and writing songs. I'm also working... I have this work-hockey-music-life balance. It feels like I'm a full time student. I'm actually in school too and I do that online so I can go at my own pace. With Canadian Country Musicians there's this rep that's like "it's summer now you can play shows. It's summer now so you play festivals." I get it, but I don't want to be labeled as a decent hockey player or artist, I want to be labeled great wherever I go.I don't want to be labeled as a Canadian Country artist, I just want to be known as Mark Ledlin, a Country Music artist. If the time comes when I fully pursue music, which could be here in the next few years, and I hang up my skates, I will be ready to write and record music. But right now it's that happy medium of both hockey and music. It's nice to have two different outlets. If music isn't working I can go skate and workout. If hockey isn't working and I'm having a tough time on the ice, I can go home and play music. I have outlets that not a lot of guys have. There's also this stigma that arts and athletics can't intertwine. Mental health is such an important thing - I've had friends who've lost their lives to bad thoughts. I make sure if I'm in a bad space in one area, I'm going to have an outlet in the other space."
Q: What does music mean to you?
A: "That's really what "Don't Hurt Tomorrow" is all about. Just being in the moment and living in the now. I think that's what draws everyone to music - you can pause time. There's this saying that when you listen to a song you really like, it's like "being the main character in the music video". That is what I want the people listening to my music to feel. I tell people that want to replay my song so many times that they are going to hate it. Music means the world to me. I know it means even more to fans because they don't see behind the scenes of how the song is written or what they are about. I try to write about my personal life because nobody wants to hear a fake story. I try my best to put out songs that are from the heart and have a personal connection. To me, music is about authenticity."
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A: "If I could go back and say one thing to my younger self it would be "do what you are going to do regardless... because love you or hate you, they are going to be beside you or be behind you". Don't let one girl or one friend dictate your life or career. Do what you think is best. Be yourself through thick and thin. Don't get swallowed up into what everyone else is doing because that's not always the right path to go down."