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Article: A chat with writer, producer and friend of Soho, Mark Baxter

A chat with writer, producer and friend of Soho, Mark Baxter

We attract a lot of "cool cats" at Soho Scarves, and one of the coolest has to be Mark Baxter.

Mark is a writer, producer and author with an amazing back catalogue of work. From working with Paul Weller, Peter Blake, Martin Freeman and many more, we thought we should sit down with him and get to know him more.

SS: Mark, please could you start by introducing yourself and give us a little bit of an overview of what you do?

MB: Hello, I’m Mark Baxter and since 1998, I have run my own company called Mono Media and under that name I do various projects. In the past, these would have included DJing, managing bands and promoting events, but in the last 10-15 years, I’ve mainly concentrated on writing books and making films on a variety of subjects. I also do some selective PR for independent retailers.

SS: You have made some incredible films and written some brilliant books over the years, what are some stand out pieces of your work that you're particularly proud of?

MB: That’s very kind of you. Book wise, it would have to be the novel ‘The Mumper,’ co-written with Paolo Hewitt, which I self-published in 2006, and which went on to be adapted as a feature film called ‘Outside Bet’ starring Bob Hoskins. A wonderful, almost surreal moment that.

The Mumper

A close second would be ‘Scorcha!’ – which looked at the first wave of skinheads and then suedeheads from the late 1960s to very early 1970s. I was delighted to be asked by Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson to work on that. Forever grateful.

Scorcha!

As for films, I have to say ‘Long Hot Summers’ for Sky Arts which was the story of  the band The Style Council. I was a massive fan of that band at the time, so this was dream gig for me. We also managed to reunite the line-up for one performance at the end of the documentary, which was quite a moment to be at, let me tell you.

A close second to that would be ‘A Man in a Hurry’ which we released in 2015. That tells the story of UK saxophonist Tubby Hayes, which was our very first film. I’m extremely proud of that and all the work that myself and film partner Lee Cogswell have made in our time under the name of Mono Media Films.

SS: What got you started in film production and do you have any influences?

MB: Good question! To be very honest, after being involved in something like 12 books by 2013, I just fancied a crack at making a film. The realities and costs of that was something of a shock, but as I have always done, I have surrounded myself with some very very talented people, and I always play to their strengths and they to mine.

Working alone is fine and I do that too, but collaborating on projects is a joy, if you pick the right team for the work. Influence wise, it’s a huge melting pot of directors, from both the feature film world and documentary field. Off the top of my head, I’d go with Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Ken Burns, Norman Jewison, Michael Lindsay Hogg, the early work of Ken Russell and John Schlesinger and Gordon Parks.

SS: You're always a dapper looking guy, music and fashion for you seem to go hand in hand, why do you think that is?

MB: Once again, thank you. When writing my very first book with Paolo called ‘The Fashion of Football’ (2003) we used a phrase ‘The Holy Trinity’ in it, which was football, clothes and music and that really is my mantra. They fit in with each other seamlessly, with each one propping up the other. My ‘further education’ after leaving school came from going to gigs, football matches or hunting down clothes both new and vintage. All three have given so much to my life and still do, though perhaps to a lesser extent as I’ve get older.

SS: Could you recommend us something that you're listening to at the moment?

MB: I still hear the occasional new tune or voice I like and say praise the Lord. It’s good to know they are still out there, someone like Jalen Ngonda and then one who’s been around a good while now, Michael Kiwanuka. Apart from that, I’m constantly delving into the modern jazz of the mid 50s to 60s, as it still has the power to stop me in my tracks with its sheer beauty.

SS: You recently got one of our, Sapporo Silk Neckerchiefs and paired it with a work jacket, a classic style. What's some of your favourite ways to style a scarf?

Shop Sapporo Double Ascot 

MB: I’ve always loved a scarf and always wear one on the Winter months. Because of the various ways you can tie them, any outfit can work with a scarf. It’s having the confidence to wear one and give it some peacock if required!

SS: What was your introduction to silk scarves and what memories of wearing them do you have?

MB: My dad always wore a silk scarf and his father, my grandad Len, who died before I was born, it appears always wore one too. I would have picked up on seeing them, when hitting my Mod days, and amassed a decent amount of 60s originals scarves. I have a couple of my dad’s and one from Len, which I cherish.

SS: You've worked with some real style and pop culture icons over the years, what are some stand out memories for you?

MB: Hard call really, but I have followed the career of Paul Weller since The Jam days and his style and interest in clothes has been constant inspiration in my life. Still today, he is very well turned out and certainly wears it well. My own look has developed away from a rigid Mod look and I now think in a more mixed Ivy Leagues/60s Gentleman style way. Curating certain key pieces and working them together seems to be my way forward.

SS: Is there anything you're working on at the moment and where can people check out your work?

MB: I’m producing two documentaries at the minute. One on the 60s pop artist Pauline Boty and the other on the fantastic bass player, Danny Thompson. Hope to have both of them out in 2024. There is also a feature film script, that we at Mono Media Films own, so we are trying to get placed. There are two other books, I’m hoping to be a part of out next year and I will have a novella called ‘Family’ out in Spring 2024. I am also co-curating an exhibition at The Barbican Music Library with a pal called David Burke which will open on Jan 12th 2024 and run for five months. So, as always, there is plenty going on. The best place to look for info on our current films is at www.monomediafilms.london and people can contact me through that.

SS: To end on, please tell us someone who you think is an underrated style icon that you think people could pick up a tip or two from?

MB: That’s a tough one. I’ll go with my first thoughts and  I like the look that the ex-footballer Ian Wright achieves from time to time. Certainly, he has his Ivy League moments and Rio Ferdinand, being an old Peckham boy knows how to wear his garms, and always looks well turned out. For my number one however, I’m going to choose John Simons. 

John Simons

Now in his mid 80s, he still puts his personal clothes together really well and in an interesting mix sometimes AND he has his own unique way of tying his scarves, which he has passed on to me now.

Thanks so much for chatting with us Mark! You can check out Mono Media here.

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