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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Mac Miller has been found dead at the age of 26.

The rapper, who dated Ariana Grande for around two years, was found in his home in the San Fernando Valley at around noon on Friday (September 7) and was pronounced dead at the scene, TMZ reports.

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Following the release of their new single “Up” and as the band prepare to embark on a tour of the UK and Europe later this month, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with The LaFontaines guitarist Darren McCaughey to talk live fan favourites, the venues he’s most excited to play and post-tour plans.

TITL: You’ve just released your new track “Up.” What is it about the song that made you decide it was a good fit for your next single, and is there a particular story behind it?

Darren McCaughey: We had a slight line-up change at the beginning of the year and this was the first track that we wrote following that. It felt like a new chapter for the band and a positive uplifting track to come back with. It’s maybe my favorite song we have ever written.

TITL: You’ve just completed a UK and European tour supporting Don Broco, and are gearing up to head out on your own headline tour of the UK and Europe this month. Are you ever NOT on the road, and what do you miss most about home when you’re away for long periods? 

DM: We relish every opportunity to get out there and play our music to as many people as possible so apart from the obvious things like friends & family etc. there’s nothing else we would rather be doing. The weather here can be pretty grim so it’s nice to get away sometimes.

TITL: How do your support slot shows differ, if at all, to your headline ones?

DM: With the support shows you want to get out there and make an impression and win over the audience. I’d say the majority of our fan-base have heard about us by seeing us support someone else. With the headline shows, we have already won the audience over so we just have to focus on giving them a night to remember. If you were to compare the two side by side there would be no difference in the actual performance just what’s going through my head.

TITL: For fans who are seeing you for the first time on this tour, what can they expect from your performance?

DM: A unique, entertaining and energetic performance.

TITL: Which of your songs do you find go down best with live audiences? Is there one that stands out or can it differ from place to place?

DM: We have a song on our latest album called “Torture” which has been going down really well. It’s a lot slower and mellow than the rest of the set but gets a great reaction and brings a different type of energy.

TITL: Is there one particular venue you’re most excited to play on this tour and if so, which is it and why?

DM: I’m excited to play in Milan & Warsaw as we have never been to either of those cities before and both look like great places to visit.

TITL: You’ve amassed quite a following since first bursting onto the scene, but how much of that might you say is down to the power of social media, and how have the likes of Twitter and Facebook helped get your name and your music out to a wider audience?

DM: We have always gained fans from supporting other acts and people seeing us live at shows and festivals. Social media has allowed us to promote our music to them and helps existing fans stay up to date with what we are up to.

TITL: Do you think, as a band, there’s such a thing as too much ‘reliance’ on social media? Do you think you could have drummed up the support you have over the years like you have without it – if you had to go ‘old school’ like in the 80’s and earlier? Is it possible for bands to succeed today without that online connection? 

DM: I think for us personally we could have drummed up the support we have without social media as we have always gained fans through live performance. Although I think now it is such an important tool and such an ingrained part of the culture that it would be very hard to get by without an online presence.

TITL: Finally then, with this new tour taking you through to early October, what does the remainder of the year have in store for you? Are there any plans or projects you can tell me about? 

DM: We’ll be heading back to the studio as soon as we come off of tour and in December we have a big festival appearance in India, then we round off the year on the 23rd of December for a homecoming show in our hometown of Motherwell.

The LaFontaines UK & European tour kicks off on September 12 in Perth, Scotland. Tickets for all shows are available now.