September 28, 207, Austria – Tirana, Albania: Dear Friends and Listeners of Radio Liria. We are excited to have today two special guests Aaron Mak and Josh Mak. Mr. Aaron Mak is a filmmaker and the CEO of Melbourne Film Studio, and lives in Melbourne, Australia. (melbournefilmstudio.com). And Mr. Josh Mak is the lead vocalist and guitarist in the rock band, Cynation, and lives in Melbourne, Australia. (www.cynationband.com).
The Tirana program is live with our Central Studio in Austria, directed by Mr. Haxhi Muhaxheri. Special thanks to Ermira Babamusta for making this interview possible for Radio Liria (http://radioliria.com).
Interviewed by Alketa Maksuti Beqari, for the “Berthama” (Nucleus) Program, Radio Liria.
Radio Liria: Are you brothers? What is it like working together artistically?
Josh Mak: Thank you Alketa for having us. We are very grateful for this opportunity to share our story with the people of Tirana in Albania. We would and also like to thank Mr. Haxhi in Austria for having us on Radio Liria.
I am the lead vocalist and guitarist in the rock band, Cynation, and I live in Melbourne, Australia.
Aaron Mak: I am a filmmaker and the CEO of Melbourne Film Studio, and I also live in Melbourne, Australia.
Josh is my older brother, and we combine our different skills in music and film to work together. It is an incredible process working together with my brother, because we approach projects very similarly and have similar tastes.
Radio Liria: Who comes up with the ideas?
Josh Mak: I tend to be more whimsical and abstract with my ideas, so it helps that Aaron is more methodical and disciplined to help make sense of this.
Aaron Mak: When we do collaborate to create video projects for Cynation, Josh will often come to me with fragments of oddly described ideas, and I’ll take those and begin to form a strong visualisation of what it will look like, as a film.
Radio Liria: Josh, you are the singer and guitarist of Cynation rock band. Tell us about the other members in the band. When did Cynation form?
Josh Mak: Cynation is Josh Mak (lead vocals & guitar), Simon Lai (guitars & backing vocals), Shah (guitars) and Andrew Teo (bass guitar).
Simon, Andrew and I formed the band in 1998 when we were 13 years old. Shah later joined the band in 2002. Therefore, we are not just a band, but lifelong childhood friends, and these boys are like my brothers.
Radio Liria: You recently released the new single “Dancing Devil”. What is the song about?
Josh Mak: Dancing Devil is a song about strippers, the adult entertainment industry, and society’s attitude towards them. Many people judge and disrespect these women because of what they choose to do for a living, yet it is many of these people who are the ones who pay for their services.
The song also explores man’s constant struggle with temptation – being irrevocably drawn towards it, yet never wanting to admit it.
Radio Liria: What can we expect from the music video? Where will it be shot?
Aaron Mak: We aim to create a music video which has a unique and enticing aesthetic to audiences, which utilises strong visual imagery to heighten the song’s dynamism.
This project is also an effort to bring together several local independent artists from different fields and backgrounds to create a professional, high quality piece of work.
The video will be shot in Melbourne, Australia, and we are currently location-scouting several local clubs.
Radio Liria: Aaron, you have your own film company, Melbourne Film Studio. What is it that you love about filmmaking?
Aaron Mak: Melbourne Film Studio was created in 2016, originally under the name “Enigmatic Pictures”, when I began creating short films for university film festivals. Since then, we have created more short films, and worked together with Cynation to create various film projects.
I love filmmaking because of all the different stories that can be told through film, and all the different ways you can tell one story. I’ve found it a great way to express my feelings and thoughts that tend to be too difficult to express through words alone.
Radio Liria: Aaron, you studied theatre and film in Australia and England. Tell us about some of your movie projects?
Aaron Mak: I recently graduated from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts, where I studied Theatre Studies and Film Studies. During my university days, I spent 6 months studying Theatre & Film at the University of Exeter in the UK.
One of the first film projects I made was the horror short film, House Sitting (2016), which I had worked together with university colleagues and friends to create.
The most recent project, How the Devil Dances (2017), has probably been the most challenging piece yet. Having more experience with short film narratives, it was interesting attempting to approach the documentary genre. However, the subject matter is something close to my heart, and I felt that I could tell Cynation’s story effectively with this documentary.
Radio Liria: Apart from the music video what else have both of you worked together on?
Josh Mak: We have a YouTube channel called “Cynation Tv” that not only showcases our music, but also shows the band in our day to day lives just hanging out and having fun together.
Aaron Mak: One of the first short films I made in the earlier days, was Coffee Run, which was actually the very first project I worked together with Josh on. I directed and wrote the short film, but also acted in it alongside Josh – it was his first acting role. The film received the Astonishing Cinematography Award.
We later worked together again on a short horror film/album trailer called Cynical Annihilation: Pandora’s Box in 2016.
Radio Liria: I saw a photo and a video when you guys went to the snow and there is the three of you standing by the side of the road peeing.
Josh Mak: First of all, when you are on a road trip, that’s your only option. But we put it into the video and we made a kind of tongue and cheek comment ‘so this is what art has come to’. And I think that’s Art. Art is open for interpretation. It’s not about whether you agree or disagree with it. We didn’t really have an agenda.
We just wanted to show ourselves in the most honest way. And I think that’s what Art is, it should be uncensored, unfiltered. Someone can look at it and think it is high art, someone could think it’s just crass. But we are not here to judge, we just deliver the most honest depiction of humanity.
Radio Liria: Aaron, as a writer, how do you approach a script? What is your writing process?
Aaron Mak: I generally like to begin scripts with a character, before I start to craft the other elements. I think that people are the point of connection between the audience and the events of a film – the more interesting, unique or complex your characters are, the more ways people can engage with your work.
I like to begin my development process by writing down little details and note them in dot points. Once I have enough information, I begin crafting how these details would come together and flow in a film.
Radio Liria: Photography is one your passions. What inspires your photography?
Aaron Mak: I discovered my passion for photography quite recently late last year, before I started doing it professionally. Recently, I submitted some of my photography works into the 2017 Exposure Photography Award Competition, which is based in New York City – the photos submitted were taken as part of a music and fashion photoshoot, where I worked with Josh again, as my model.
I like taking photos of various things, from nature, to architecture, to portraits, but I have a tendency to like simplicity when it comes to photography.
Radio Liria: What are some of the places you have visited. Which city left a good impression on you?
Josh Mak: Visiting the Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand was a truly eye-opening experience. It was humbling to see how the villagers lived, and a refreshing change from the frenetic pace of city life.
Aaron Mak: I had quite the experience visiting Amsterdam in the Netherlands for the first time recently. It was really refreshing to visit a city that was so visually beautiful with its canals and architecture, so culturally rich with art galleries like the Van Gogh Museum, and so relaxed with its carefree way of life.
Radio Liria: Were you inspired by these travels?
Josh Mak: Somebody once told me that you will never waste money on travel because of what you gain out of it. I think it’s very important for people to travel because it gives you a better understanding of different cultures, and also fosters a greater appreciation for what we already have.
Aaron Mak: It is certainly an eye-opening experience to travel to the other side of the world to see both how similar, and yet how different things are between two cultures. My recent travels have inspired me to gain a better understanding of various cultures and languages.
Radio Liria: What have you composed or performed on your travels?
Josh Mak: I compose and write music whenever inspiration strikes, so yes, it can occur during travels but it is often during mundane daily activities that I feel the most creative.
Performing at several music festivals in Singapore has definitely been a highlight for the band and we look forward to travel and perform our music around the world.
Radio Liria: What do you know about Albania?
Josh Mak: I am always intrigued by traditional ethnic music and Albania is no exception. I love their use of clarinets and the unique way they approach melody and phrasing. Shah, one of our guitarists in the band, is also a huge football fan – whenever Albania plays, we always support them. His favourite player is Lorik Cana. Also, I have heard that Albanian wine is amazing.
Aaron Mak: There is a strong history that is shared between our two countries. In the 1920s and 1930s large numbers of Albanians came to Melbourne and to Shepparton where they worked in the farming industry as they had in their homeland. More recently, in 1999, the Australian Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, authorised 4,000 refugees from Kosovo to be given refuge in Australia.
Radio Liria: What have you learned to say in Albanian?
Aaron Mak: Faleminderit Alketa. Si jeni? Une jam Aaron dhe une bej filma. (Thank you Alketa, How are you, I am Aaron and I am a filmmaker).
Josh Mak: Si jeni Alketa? Une jam Josh. Une jam muzikant i Cynation. Faleminderit shume. (How are you Alketa. I am Josh. I am a musician from Cynation. Thank you very much)
Also we heard about the big Grape Harvest festival in Kosovo with great music and wine. So we know the word “RRUSH”. We would love to perform there one day in Kosovo, Albania and in the Balkans.
Radio Liria: Would you be interested in doing a collaboration Melbourne – Tirana?
Josh Mak: The beauty of music is that it has the ability to transcend borders and languages. It is a great way to embrace and learn about another country’s culture – and yes, Tirana would definitely be at the top of our list of cities to collaborate with.
Radio Liria: I have written a script in Albanian. Would you be interested in collaborating with me in such a project with actors from Albania and Australia, and music from Josh?
Aaron Mak: It would be an incredible opportunity to collaborate with you on this project, as I’m always looking for new ways to expand my horizons with film. It would also be a delight to work with you to make a film.
Josh Mak: It would be both a pleasure and honour for me to write music for your film.
Radio Liria: My show is titled “the nucleus” Is family considered important in Australia? What does family mean to you?
Aaron Mak: Australians hold family in very high esteem, and believe that the love and support of a family is one of the most important things in life. Even at Christmas time in Australia, it is the norm for all of the shops to close down so that families can spend that quality time together.
Josh Mak: To me, family is not limited to just the people who are related to you. They are people who I have formed close bonds with that I also consider family, such as my brothers in the band and our band publicist, Ermira Babamusta.
Radio Liria: Who are the people that you care the most in your life?
Josh Mak: We owe a great deal of our success to the support of our family. We would also like to thank our publicist and manager, Ermira Babamusta – for not only her hard work, but the faith that she has placed in us and our music. Additionally, our producer, Jason Hawkins, has been invaluable to the creative process of our music, and we are truly blessed to work with an artist of his calibre.
Radio Liria: I have seen many Australian movies, one of them is “All rivers flow” Do you watch classic movies?
Aaron Mak: Although I haven’t seen many classic movies, some films that have made a strong impression on me include classic works by French New Wave director, Francois Truffaut, such as Les Quatre Cent Coups (The 400 Blows) and La Nuit Americaine (Day for Night).
Radio Liria: Which actors, directors, writers, singers inspire you?
Josh Mak: Some of my favourite singers are Axel Rose and Marilyn Manson. Some of my favourite writers are J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl.
Aaron Mak: Some of my favourite directors are Christopher Nolan, The Russo Brothers, Matthew Vaughn, Richard Linklater, David Lynch.
Radio Liria: What does fame mean to you?
Josh Mak: Fame to me is a by-product of success. It is not the reason for creating art, but if many people love your work, fame will follow.
Aaron Mak: My intention behind making films is not for the fame, instead, it is the other way around. I would like to become successful, and use my fame to make the films I want to, without having to be restricted by costs or other limitations that might burden others.
Radio Liria: What can we expect next from you? What are your future plans?
Josh Mak: We are about to release our second single, called “Go Louie Go”. The end of the year will also see us release our debut 5-track EP, and our music video for Dancing Devil. We also have plans to tour in New York and Albania in the near future.
Aaron Mak: In the next few weeks, I will be working on releasing the next episode in the Cynation Tv web-series – the episode will be called “Cynation Gets Lost in a Maze”. Towards the end of this year, there will also be the Dancing Devil music video.
When 2018 comes, I’m hoping to make another short film which I can then submit to film festivals locally and internationally, and travel across the world.
Radio Liria: In closing of this very impressive interview, I would like to thank you Aaron and Josh, say hello to your family and I dedicate this song to you and all our listeners with a traditional dance song from Kosova.
Aaron: Faleminderit Alketa. Faleminderit Radio Liria. (Thank you Alketa, Thank you Radio Liria)
Josh Mak: Faleminderit Shume Alketa. Naten e Mire. (Thank you very much Alketa. Good night.)