MARK KINGSWOOD TALKS “LOSING MY RELIGION” AND TOUR PLANS 0 267

Inspired by the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Matt Monro among others, Mark Kingswood has already been championed by several critics and hailed “The British Buble.” As his career continues to go from strength to strength, he’s now released a new music video, which was shot at The Asylum, an historic church in London, for his latest single – a cover of the classic REM song “Losing My Religion.” To coincide with the release, Mark spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about song-writing inspiration, playing the Royal Albert Hall and his ultimate career objective.

TITL: Who exactly is Mark Kingswood?

Mark Kingswood: I guess I would describe myself as a singer/producer/songwriter who loves dramatic arrangements. I love the swing, big band genre because of their rich orchestral arrangements delivered by live musicians. My objective is to redefine the modern day crooner by attempting to add new songs to the genre rather than borrowing from the Great American Songbook. I aspire to present my music in a format which has a touch of the modern sound without compromising on the classic feel of the genre. I have an enormous respect for the history of music and its legendary artists from all genres

TITL: At what point in your life did you first truly realise you wanted to make music a career and prior to that, did you have any other ambitions?

MK: For me, I was lucky enough to have a chance at performing on stage to an audience of probably around 200 people in a children’s talent show when I was only 8 or 9 years old. After stepping down from the stage after I had won the show, I had the bug instantly. I became obsessed with singing and playing on my keyboard from that moment on, so I think both my parents and I knew I was going to pursue a life in the music world. Alongside singing and performing, I felt a real connection to recording studio life. At one point, working in audio production became more prominent than performing and I started to make a living. I never went to music production college but did I have the opportunity of working in some amazing studios with some great writers and producers where I really learned the craft and started building my own studio.

Subsequently, this led to a career where I was producing for other artists and working with major record labels. But the truth is, I was never truly happy. I missed the stage and I missed the excitement of performing live so I decided to really try and get myself back into performing and singing live and I’m so thankful that I did. My only ambition now is to keep doing what I’m doing.

TITL: You’ve been dubbed the “British Buble” due to your impressive range and pop-orchestra sound. Do you mind such a comparison, or would you much prefer to be championed as an artist in your own right?

MK: Not at all. What an honor it is to be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Bublé. Because I grew up in the 90’s , Michael was my Sinatra . Frank Sinatra was such an influence on so many artists .You see, I was brought up listening to the Ratpack, Matt Monro, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett with my grandparents, but I never got to see them live. Michael was the one who made it relevant and so exciting to me. He was the first performer I saw with a real live big band right in front of me.

As far as being championed as an artist in my own right, I believe this is reflected in my songs. I have had a dream for a long time to create something which in someway gives back to this wonderful musical genre. I am so excited to create new original music that comes from the heart. Not only for the existing fans of this genre, But also for potential new fans who have yet to discover it in 2018.

TITL: Who or what most inspires/influences your song-writing and how easy/hard do you find the song-writing process? Can or does it depend on the subject matter?

MK: I’m the kind of guy who likes to write about life and all the emotions and hurdles that we usually all encounter at some point in our lives. I think everyone who writes has different way that work for them, but for me personally, I’m actually quite methodical when I write songs. I have a particular message I want to put out there. Musically, I like to really challenge myself by imagining what the finished album may include so that I can craft a nice musical journey. I love to write songs that might someday give someone that little extra comfort, reassurance or faith when they need it. I wrote the song “Strong” with this in mind. I wanted to send a message lyrically provoking the power positive thoughts to overcome your hurdles.

Music is such powerful tool so I try to reach as many people as I can lyrically. If some of the songs are personal to me, I try to find a way so others can relate to them. There’s nothing greater as a songwriter than to hear someone say that your song really helped them through something, or added something special to an exciting moment in their life. It’s truly a humbling feeling.

TITL: What is it about the song “Losing My Religion” that made you want to cover and shoot a video for it?

MK: I always loved the song. I think REM have written some beautiful songs, both rich and clever in meaning, But I really felt like I could bring “Losing My Religion” into my world by giving it some of my own flavour and orchestral influence. I shot a video for it because I wanted a beautiful visual to accompany it. Considering that I did not write the song, I wanted a simple performance video that would have a beautiful location so people could focus on the song and the arrangement.

TITL: Are there any other songs you’d love to cover in the future?

MK: There are some great songs I would love to cover both for my albums and my social accounts. On my albums, I like to try and choose songs that are not from the Great American Songbook because I want to challenge myself in trying to infuse my sound into a cover. With pop or rock songs, I feel I can really do something exciting and different. However, in a live environment, I do perform some of those great classic songs from the American Songbook and big band genre. I love paying my respect to those magnificent artists who have unknowingly inspired me and so many others with their amazing voices and big band sound.

TITL: With your career steadily on the up and up, do you have any performances or tour dates lined up? Which one venue in the world would you most like to play and why?

MK: I do! I have some tour dates across North America this year including one or two more stops in the US. I will also be heading back to perform a special show in the UK at some point this year. The venue I would love to play is the Royal Albert Hall in London. I think it’s just so rich in history and I’ve seen many great concerts there over the years that really inspired me. I also think as a venue, it has absolutely beautiful acoustics – it’s definitely a venue on the bucket list!

TITL: It could be argued that bands and artists today cannot thrive without being involved in some form of social media. With that in mind, what impact are you seeing the likes of Twitter and Facebook have on your career and do you think you’d have the support and following you do without such sites?

MK: It’s an evolving industry for sure and social media seems to play such a huge part in all of our lives nowadays that naturally, the progression of music, movies and sport are being integrated more and more to social platforms. I think the great thing about social media is that people can really watch your career grow and feel a part of it from humble beginnings. I have some lovely followers and subscribers who feel like an extended family for me . I have tried being creative with my Facebook and Instagram pages by creating platforms such as ‘Croon This Tune’ where I ask followers to suggest songs for me to give my own flavor to them. I then release them sporadically for them to hear. It’s incredible what people will ask sometimes; so much so that it helps me build future setlists for my concerts. I also started a series called ‘Music Life Marks’ where I present different singers and musicians to my audience by telling them stories or interesting facts about those artists that I love.

TITL: Finally then, are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about and, looking further ahead, what’s the ultimate objective for you as an artist?

MK: I am looking forward to touring this year and building my audience. I am going to do my utmost to please my passionate fans and also stick to my mission of trying to bring elements of this genre to a new audience for 2018 and 2019!

Header photo credit: Alex Paillon.

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LX MASON TALKS “DRINK ME GOODBYE” AND FUTURE ASPIRATIONS 0 50

Having earned considerable attention and a strong following on the back of his debut single “I Don’t”, which to date has been streamed more than 35,000 times on Spotify alone, the latest song by Florida born artist Jon Davis, AKA LX Mason, addresses the desperate attempts so many people make to forget long-term relationships. With plans for an EP in the pipeline, LX Mason chatted to ThisIsTheLatest about song-writing inspiration, his thoughts on social media and his long term artistic goals.

TITL: What makes LX Mason different from all the other acts out there? What’s your unique selling point?

LX Mason: I think I’m unique in the sense that I’m an African American pop artist who isn’t doing R’n’B or rap, but I don’t think that defines me. I think we’re all just out here trying to make what’s true to us. So my unique selling point is, I’m me. Get to know me a little.

TITL: Is there a particular story behind your new single “Drink Me Goodbye”?

LXM: Of course! My songs are a way of coping with things that happen in my world, so you can always count on there being some type of story. I had a falling out with a really close friend of mine years back, and it wrecked me for a little bit until I bounced back. However, I saw from a distance how that person was trying so hard to forget me and I’d say that was the part that hurt the most. We eventually mended things but if we’re being honest, a lot happened during that time and it hasn’t been the same. 

TITL: How did you come up with the concept for the video and is being creative in that way something you enjoy? 

LXM: I LOVE directing. For some reason I always have. And since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved music videos. I bounced some ideas off of my mates, and my co-director Jason Denison. We wanted to portray a story of the depths that someone has to go to in order to forget someone and actually recreate these happy memories but without the other person being there. 

TITL: In terms of your lyrics and general song-writing from who or from where do you find most of your inspiration?

LXM: Real life situations inspire me. There are some pop artists whose writing I definitely appreciate – Julia Michaels, Lauv, Lennon Stella to name a few – but I try not to let that influence my writing because I want to be as authentic to the story, and the emotion, as possible. 

TITL: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process? Can it depend on the subject you’re wanting to write about or your frame of mind at the time? 

LXM: Yeah definitely depends on what song I’m writing. And if my head isn’t in the right place for it, I have to really push past everything that I’m feeling to get a song out. 

TITL: Is there an EP or album in the works?

LXM: I’m working towards an EP! But definitely a couple more singles out first. 

TITL: Do you have any performance or tour plans you can tell me about?

LXM: At the moment, it’s all about the writing and recording. But things could definitely change, and I’m always keen to perform.

TITL: If you could put together your dream show with four bands or artists, living or dead, who would you choose and where would you play? 

LXM: WHOA. Uhm. I would completely disregard genre and just have a really selfish line-up of people I love. 

TITL: Given that your debut single has already achieved in excess of 35,000 streams, what are your thoughts on social media? Are you someone who believes it to be a powerful and necessary tool in your business, and society in general, or can there be/are there downsides to being so “online” all the time? 

LXM: There’s no question that the abuse of social media has had an effect on mental health. We’ve seen it, and Instagram/Facebook has done a little bit of work to improve it for the user, but I don’t think it’s there just yet. I think there is an aspect of it where it is effective for business, and societally it does increase your world a bit – I’ve met some wonderful people through social media. But if -or when – it crashes, it wouldn’t bother me. Half the time whenever I post something I think about my caption for half a second, post it, and throw my phone across the room because I don’t care. 

TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you? 

LXM: More music! Releasing some more of my own, as well as writing for other people’s projects and potentially featuring on some tracks as well. 

TITL: Finally then, given how “full” the music industry is now with both new and established talent, how do you plan to make yourself stay current in the years ahead? What are your long-term aspirations as an artist and where do you see the music industry going/ being in terms of its shape and longevity, as time goes on?

LXM: I think, more importantly, I want to stay true to myself. If that’s current, then great. What’s “current” changes so frequently that if I were to base my artistic identity in that, I wouldn’t know who I am anymore. My long term aspirations is to get where I want to go making the music I want to make whenever I want to make it. I think for the music industry, there’s more of an inclination towards independence and honesty in music that can bring people the music they want to connect to. 

Check out the video for “Drink Me Goodbye” below and for more information on LX Mason, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

BAILEY TOMKINSON CHATS “7 MINUTES IN HEAVEN”, TAYLOR SWIFT & SUPPORTING HER FELLOW FEMALE ARTISTS 0 80

Heavily influenced and inspired by Taylor Swift but with music tastes so varied she loves Sam Cooke, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper to name just three, Bailey Tomkinson has an undeniable passion for music. After releasing her EP Hey Ace last year, she’s recently dropped her new single “7 Minutes In Heaven” and with plans to head back in the studio soon to work on new material, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to talk favourite songs, upcoming performance plans and proudly supporting other female artists.

TITL: Who exactly is Bailey Tomkinson?

Bailey Tomkinson: Hi there! I’m Bailey, I’m a 19 year old singer/songwriter from sunny St Ives in Cornwall. I like to write country melodies that hopefully even people that don’t normally like Country Music will want to sing along to! I’m signed to German Indie Label FBP Music and when I’m not performing you can usually find me in the surf!

TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to make music a career and what did those closest to you think of said realisation?

BT: I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in music, I watched the movie ‘Selena’, based on the life of the singer Selena Quintanilla, when I was about 4 and from then on all I wanted to do was perform.

The first time I played one of my songs in public was in front of about 300 people in an auditorium, it was a school rock concert in Brussels where we were living at the time, I was about 13. You could have heard a pin drop when I started to play and I just got the bug. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.  I think there is a video of it on YouTube somewhere actually! My family have never been anything other than massively supportive.Their attitude is that we all only get so many trips round the sun, why not spend them doing something you love?

TITL: Which artists and bands are you most inspired and influenced by, and what is it about the music they make that you like so much?

BT: I’ve grown up listening to Taylor Swift so she’s a big influence, obviously very relatable to a teenage girl. But I also admire her for willingness to experiment and innovate across genres; that she wanted to expand the ‘box’. I really admire Kacey Musgraves for the same reason. I listen to Sinatra. I love John Denver because he’s my Grandad’s favourite. Also Sam Cooke, Madonna, Abba, Cyndi Lauper, Jewel – honestly, I just love music.

TITL: Is there a story behind your latest single “7 Minutes In Heaven”?

BT: It was a combination of things really. I love movies like ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ for the sense they have where in one, crazy night anything can happen. I thought it would be interesting to try to capture that feeling in a song. I’m 19 years old, so you know, I love a good party and we have some GREAT parties down here in St Ives, we’ve got the beach, bonfires, surfers and guitars so I thought why not write about some of them!

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written?

BT: That’s such a difficult question and if you asked me that 100 times, I’d probably give you a 100 different answers. Today, I’d go with “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. The song structure is a work of genius; it somehow manages to link multiple songs into one. Freddie Mercury is a GOD!

I think at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say I have a biggest inspiration as I’m quite fickle with the music I listen to, one minute it’s Sam Cooke and the next it’s Guns N’ Roses. However, that said, I’m pretty sure that if you ask people that know me, they’d tell you it’s Taylor Swift. Hell, at school I was nicknamed ‘Baylor’ Swift.

TITL: As a fairly new artist who made their mark on the industry last year, following the release of your EP, do you ever worry about how you compare to so many of your artistic counterparts?

BT: No, success isn’t cake. Just because someone has some doesn’t mean there’s none for me. There’s plenty for everybody. I have nothing but admiration for people who say, I’m going to follow my passion for making music and if they manage to carve out their own niche then more power to them. It’s hard enough for women in music, we’re all seeking to get equal airtime, festival slots etc, without turning on each other. We all experience the same thing…radio stations happy to put our faces on their posters or Facebook pages but then not spinning our records…I make a point of supporting other female country singers out there, we all want the same thing, a bigger industry and an opportunity to thrive within it.  

TITL: Do you have any performances/tour plans in the works?

BT: There’s lots going on. I’m making my London debut at Luna Lounge in April and in August, I’ve been lucky enough to get a slot at Boardmasters Festival which is one of my favourite festivals. I really want to play the length and breadth of the country, so if any one reading this has slots available, hit me up!

TITL: Given that we live in such a technology obsessed/dependent society, what are your thoughts on social media? How have the likes of Facebook and Twitter impacted your ability to reach an audience, and do you believe that artists can become successful without it?

BT: I don’t know that I have any new startling insight on the subject to be honest. It’s a mixed bag. Social media can be horrible, it amplifies hate and lies, it can make people insecure and antisocial I certainly think it’s important to remember that like television, a lot of it isn’t real. But the flip side is that it can connect people across oceans, across continents in ways we’ve never been able to before. 

In terms of the music, so far my experiences on social media have been incredibly positive, I’ve had other artists reach out with encouragement and advice, I’ve had folks contact me saying how much they’ve enjoyed a certain song and share my stuff with their friends etc. everybody has been really welcoming. Can an artist become successful without it? It depends on how you define success…for some it’s filling stadiums, which I don’t think you can do without a strong social media presence; for others it’s being happy, doing something you love on a local stage. If we were all the same, life would be boring wouldn’t it?

TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you? Will you be working on some new material at some point?

BT: Yes, I’ve been in the studio recently to record another single. Then after Boardmasters and festival season, I’ll probably do another EP. I’m writing constantly and definitely want to capture those songs properly. Later in the year, I’d like to do a bigger tour.

TITL: Finally then, what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on the music world as you have? Is there anything you’ve learnt in your short time in the business you’d pass on?

BT: I’d say, make the music you want to make and then surround yourself with as many good people as you can. It really does take a village.

Check out “7 Minutes In Heaven” below and for more information on Bailey, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.