MARK KINGSWOOD TALKS “LOSING MY RELIGION” AND TOUR PLANS 0 204

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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P!NK CONFIRMED TO PERFORM AT 2019 BRITS; RECIPIENT OF OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC AWARD 0 16

We are thrilled to announce that multi-million selling global pop icon P!NK will be honoured with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at this year’s ceremony. P!NK will be the first international artist to receive this award.

Seven studio albums and one greatest hits album on since her debut in 2000, totalling over 60 million global sales, over 8 million in the UK alone along with over 12 million UK single sales, P!NK is a musical force to be reckoned with. With seven Top Five albums – with two going No. 1 (Funhouse and the most recent platinum-certified Beautiful Trauma), three UK No. 1 singles (‘Just Like A Pill’, ‘So What’, ‘Lady Marmalade’) and 32 Top 40 singles, 19 of which going Top 10, including ‘Try’, ‘Just Give Me A Reason’ and ‘What About Us’, P!NK has become one of the UK’s best-selling female artists and one of the world’s greatest singers, with her inimitable powerhouse vocals and show-stopping stage performances.
 
Over 2 million tickets sold in the UK alone to date, nine BRIT nominations, and one win for International Female Solo Artist in 2003, and a string of other prestigious awards and accolades including three GRAMMY awards (20 nominations) and two Billboard Music Awards, P!NK’s career sees no sign of letting up with her first UK stadium tour in five years booked for this summer, including two nights at London’s Wembley Stadium.
 
P!NK said: “I am so honored to be recognized with the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award at the 2019 BRITs! Since the beginning of my career the British fans have been some of the most fierce and loyal in the world. I am humbled to receive this honor and be in the company of an illustrious group of British icons!”

BRITs Chairman and Chairman & CEO of Sony Music UK and Ireland Jason Iley said: “P!NK is a trailblazer, a phenomenally talented singer and songwriter, and truly one of the greatest artists of our time.  It is a real pleasure to honour her at this year’s BRIT Awards with the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award. With her remarkable career spanning nearly 20 years, P!NK is one of the most successful artists in the world, consistently releasing multi-million-selling albums and selling out tours all over the globe. I am really excited to welcome her back to The BRITs and to recognise her prodigious success.”
 
P!NK joins an illustrious list of previous BRIT Awards Outstanding Contribution to Music recipients including Sir Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Spice Girls, U2, Sir Paul McCartney, Oasis, Robbie Williams and Blur. The award was rested in 2013 to make way for a Special Recognition for War Child to mark the charity’s 20th anniversary. P!NK will be the first international artist to receive the honour, a decision taken by The BRITs committee to open the award up to overseas acts who have achieved long term success in the UK, and P!NK will be awarded in recognition of her significant impact on British music and her incredible musical repertoire over the past two decades.

Like all winners on the night, P!NK will be presented with an exclusive trophy designed for this year only by Sir David Adjaye OBE, and she will close the show with an exclusive performance on the night, showcasing her extraordinary talent which continues to wow audiences all over the world.

MATT DOBKIN CHATS ‘SIX SONGS OF PROTEST’ & HIS VIEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA 0 23

Music has always been an outlet for artists keen to share their views – personal, political and everything in between – and for Matt Dobkin, thanks to his new, upcoming EP Six Songs Of Protest, it’s allowed him to express himself in exactly the way he wishes to be heard. Frustrated and shocked by the outcome of the 2016 US election and all that has occurred and impacted both the States and the world since, his new collection addresses issues such as police brutality, the environment and White House corruption. Having just released the first single from the EP, “They Warned Us”, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Matt to delve a little deeper into his political views, the impact of social media on his career and how happy he is to see more of his artistic counterparts speaking out about issues that matter.

TITL: Hi Matt. Sum yourself up in a few words for me please.

Matt Dobkin: Right now? In 2019? Pissed off.

TITL: What would you say is your unique selling point as an artist? What makes you stand out? 

MD: My aim as an artist right now is to express my frustration, distress, and anger with the current state of the world. And I think – or at least hope! – that that’s a selling point, because I’m certainly not alone. I would like to think that my voice, lyrics, and political point of view might, to some small degree in today’s landscape, help me stand out.

TITL: Growing up, which bands and artists were you most inspired by and how do those inspirations influence the music you make now? 

MD: How much space do you have? As a very little kid, I would listen to whatever was on pop radio and sing along; whether that was Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, or Eagles. I was a total 80s pop obsessive: Prince, Michael, post-Barracuda pop Heart, Yaz, U2, and George Michael. In high school, I got the retro jazz/soul bug and I became fixated on Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. I discovered Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and I “came home” to the 60s/70s soul space that would become – and remain – my main inspiration. But, I also had a classical-music background and I’m sure that all these various influences have informed what I do now. It’s a big ol’ mash-up, as it is for most musicians.

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

MD: Greatest song ever written? Impossible to answer. Different songs evoke different feelings and mean different things to different people. Not to be a killjoy, but I’m not really into pitting one song against another. In terms of my personal inspirations, I have two different lists, the “singing” list and the “songwriting” list. As a singer, Aretha Franklin tops the list, followed closely by Al Green and Sam Cooke. As a songwriter, Prince and Joni Mitchell, which I realize sounds absurd as I’m barely fit to sweep their floors. Marvin Gaye manages to straddle both lists.

TITL: Tell me a little about your latest single “They Warned Us.” What’s the story behind it?

MD: “They Warned Us” is the first single off my forthcoming EP, Six Songs of Protest. But the song that really launched the project for me is called “Organize.” It’s inspired by Gloria Steinem and really set the tone for the whole release. Once I had committed to the idea of an all-protest-song project, I started listening to A LOT of old classic songs of resistance. Much like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddamn”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”, and many more. I started to realize that all the issues I wanted to address in these songs had already been dealt with by these great artists, not to mention Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, etc. So the idea behind “They Warned Us” was very simple, all the problems we’re facing now, we also faced years ago. And all this stuff I want to address now was addressed decades ago. Marvin, Nina, and Dylan warned us years ago about the scenarios we find ourselves dealing with today. Nothing has changed.

TITL: As you mentioned, you’ve got an EP, Six Songs of Protest coming out soon. Without giving too much away in terms of its content, what can fans expect from the collection?

MD: In addition to “They Warned Us” and “Organize”, which is a very pointed critique of the American president. Featuring a circa-1972 sample from Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to throw her hat into the ring for U.S. president. There’s a song about the environment – “Earthquake and Hurricanes”-, a gay rights song – “The Ramble” -, a song criticizing the epidemic of police murders of black Americans – “Paid Administrative Leave” – and a cover of the great Phil Ochs’s “Power and the Glory.” You know, just fun, light, frothy entertainment.

TITL: Which of the songs on the EP might you say you’re most proud of/connected to and why?

MD: I’m really happy with how “Organize” turned out. The groove, the lyrics, and not to mention the background vocals of Teresa Stanley. She’s a killer female gospel/soul vocalist always adds authority to a song.

TITL: Your music is “overtly” political – not that that’s a bad thing in this day and age – but do you wish other artists would share such powerful and important messages through their work, or are you happy to be one of the few leading the charge?

MD: Thank you, but I wouldn’t say I’m “leading the charge.” I’m hardly alone in trying to get these messages across. I think we’re in a moment where a lot of artists – whether musicians, writers, visual artists, whatever – are addressing the kinds of political and social problems we’re all assaulted by every time we open the newspaper or a web browser. I’m genuinely excited by the fact that so many different creative people, across genres and disciplines, are finding ways to resist.

TITL: What is your tour/performance schedule for the months ahead looking like? Which one venue would you most like to play and why?

MD: I like small, intimate shows, where it’s easy to connect directly with your audience. So, I’m angling for Joe’s Pub here in New York City. But if Madison Square Garden or the O2 Centre came calling, I wouldn’t be averse…

TITL: It could be argued that social media is all but taking over the world – and certainly industries like the music business. How do you personally feel about society’s connection and obsession with the likes of Twitter? How has and does it impact your ability to reach an audience?

MD: I have friends who refuse to be on social media, and I really admire their ability to steer clear and not get sucked in. But, it’s impossible to get your music out and your message across without Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s incredibly helpful in reaching people, so I can’t complain.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

MD: I am completely focused on Six Songs of Protest at the moment and whatever small ways I can help prevent a re-election.

TITL: Finally then, with seemingly no end in sight to the political turmoil the world finds itself dealing with, where do you see your music going in future? Are there any other causes or views you’re maybe looking to support through future releases, and with that in mind, many years from now, what one thing would you most like people to say about you/remember you for in terms of your career and artistic legacy?

MD: When I first started singing and writing songs, I had no ambition to get into this political realm, but it’s feeling like a pretty good fit. I’m sure that, even when our idiot president has been expelled from office, I’ll find some other situation to be outraged by and respond to in music. Or maybe I’ll just want to sing cheesy love songs. We’ll just have to see!

Check out “They Warned Us” below and for more information on Matt Dobkin, visit his website, follow him on Instagram or give his page a like on Facebook.