The fringe is home for Mark Wohl and Jami Kali.
Together, the self-described “dream folk” duo crafts ethereal, bohemian rock with a shadowy, psychedelic bite as Wilkes-Barre band Mock Sun. It's a unique sound, shape-shifting from haunting to twee and back again.
Though distinctive and dynamic, such idiosyncrasy has somewhat ostracized the pair from the local scene, dominated as it arguably is by more traditional indie, alternative, and hardcore music.
“We don't fit in anywhere, musically,” Wohl says. “There's the (River Street Jazz Café) scene, which is really jammy, and there's still remnants of the punk scene that was big at Café Metropolis. It's hard for us to find people we can play with or even places we can do so comfortably.”
Rather than let that get them down, though, Wohl and Kali said their outsider status has only emboldened their independent spirit and continually encourages them to remember why they play music in the first place.
“I get a sense of satisfaction whenever someone finds something in what I'm trying to do creatively, when I can make that connection,” Kali, who also records tranced-out trip-hop music as a solo act in addition to writing poetry and self-publishing an annual creative writing zine called The Vein, says.
“I love it when someone understands and enjoys what I'm going for, but that drive to do something creative, whatever it may be, is a drive to express ourselves. In the end, I'm doing it for myself.”
That art-for-art's sake attitude is foremost at the heart of Mock Sun's first EP, “The Lucid Paper Palace Project.” Originally released in 2011, Wohl and Kali recently remixed, remastered, and, as of this week, re-released their seven-track debut album. In addition to a digital version being available online via the group's Bandcamp page, physical copies will also be available when Mock Sun performs this Saturday as part of the Record Store Day festivities at Musical Energi (59 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre), where Wohl, not far from a living embodiment of the “record store geek,” just so happens to work.
Viewing Mock Sun as more of a “studio” project than a live band (quotes around “studio” because the band members record all their material themselves, with their own equipment, in classic do-it-yourself fashion), Kali says the reason for redoing the “The Lucid Palace Paper Project” was because the band is an ongoing process. It evolves along with the individuals within it and improves as they acquire new gear and skills.
Hearing the richer, more polished production of the remastered E.P., it's clear Mock Sun has indeed evolved quite a bit since its impromptu origins.
“It was a very spur-of-the-moment thing,” Kali said, a sly, sidewise smile tugging at the corner of her mouth as she recalls the night in question.
“We'd gone for a long drive in the woods before coming back to Mark's house. He was always looking for people to jam with and was playing with one of our friends, who was doing hand percussions. So I got a colander and some sticks and joined in and just started putting words to it, really stream of consciousness, making up a song about this creepy picture Mark had on his wall of a little girl standing in a barn with a look of fear on her face. That became 'Black Eyed Susan,' the first song we did together.”
With colanders and creepy pictures squarely in the past, Mock Sun's future includes the band's first full-length album, due out this summer. Sure enough, the album promises to continue Mock's Sun auditory evolution.
“It has taken a different turn because we're different people now. There's more frustration fueling my writing, I think,” Kali says.
“It's very tribal. I wouldn't use that phrase, 'dream folk,' anymore.”