British-Born Vocalist MARK KINGSWOOD Discusses His Debut Album, ‘Strong’ and Much More!
Posted On 12 Sep 2018
Get the know the internationally acclaimed British-born vocalist, Mark Kingswood! Earlier this year, he released his debut album, Strong, via 21K Records. With his impressive vocals and the orchestral richness of past eras, Kingswood’s new album pays homage to the pioneers of the big band genre, including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Matt Monro by bringing the orchestral power ballad to a whole new generation of music fans. The Strong album is available now on iTunes, Spotify and all other music e-tail sites.
Recorded in the UK and Canada, Strong consists of eleven original songs with traditional pop roots and two ‘90s hit pop songs with Kingswood’s own orchestral arrangements. From the opening notes of the album’s title track to its epic orchestral version of REM’s “Losing My Religion” and an emotional rendition of George Michael’s “One More Try,” the album showcases Kingswood’s versatility as a producer, songwriter, and vocalist. The artist also released a new music video for his single, “Strong,” which shows his incredible stage presence.
Be sure to order your copy of Mark Kingswood’s debut album, Strong, on his official website, as well as on Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music. Be on the lookout for the artist on tour in the UK, Canada and the US later this year!
Originally from the United Kingdom, Kingswood has performed as a vocalist for over a decade. In addition to being an avid musician, he is also a producer and songwriter who brings a unique and modern touch to the sound in his recordings. His love for jazz, big band music, and pop shine through his evocative songwriting. Kingswood offers his own special flair to an enduring musical genre, making it accessible and relevant for a new generation of music lovers. His music has a unique sound influenced by the likes of Michael Bublé, George Michael and Josh Groban. The result is music that bears meaning and sensibility, without forsaking musicality. Overall, the release of his first original music album marks a significant turning point in his career. Kingswood can now share his true passion for a musical genre that appeals to all generations, with a style of his own and a vocal range that sets him apart.
Connect With Mark Kingswood Here:
Learn more about Mark Kingswood in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
My pleasure. Well, It’s currently 7.30am and I’m sitting in my studio just about to start some work for the day. I’m a little way into recording my second album, so today I’m going to be editing, re-doing vocals, mixing etc. Lots of work to be done, but hopefully this evening I can look back and say that I had a productive day!
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artist’s favorite songs this summer so what is YOUR song of the summer?
Well although very different to the type of music I create, I really liked Anne Marie’s hit ‘2002’. I thought lyrically it was great, So catchy and clever and I loved the fact I relate to it. I listened to a lot of those songs she features back in 2002, so it’s the first time in a while that memories of those songs and those times where I was when I was listening to them came flooding back. I also read somewhere it was written by Ed Sheeran, who is just such a gifted young writer. It’s just a great modern day pop song.
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your music career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it?
This year has really been an incredible journey for me musically. I released my debut album “Strong” in March which was an exciting time. This has helped secure some wonderful shows, interviews, TV appearances and most importantly also given me something I’m proud of to start building my fan base and connecting with my audience. My main goal this year is to get my music out there to as many people as possible and for those people to hopefully start following me online and on my tour and also learning a little more about me and what I am about. By the end of the year hopefully I’ll have this new extended family of passionate fans and then It’s my job then to just make those fans happy.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Yes music was a massive part of my life. Although my family are not really musical at all , I was given my first keyboard as a gift for around my 6th birthday. After playing and singing for a few years, I decided to enter into a children’s talent show and I won the contest. There’s nothing like looking out from the stage and seeing your family cheer you on. I really got the bug for performing then and have not looked back since.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? Has there been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I’ve been into creating music for a long long time now and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a number of different projects. Some as an artist and some as a producer and songwriter, but the music business is forever changing and so It’s always surprising. There doesn’t seem to be any clear cut structure or solid path to succeed in music. There’s no right or wrong way of doing things. You just have to do what you feel is personally right for yourself and your audience and hope for the best. So far I’ve had some lovely surprises and successes come my way since the release, but I’m sure there will be some more un-welcomed surprises too. But you have to just take the rough with the smooth and keep your fingers crossed that luck will be on your side.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today? What is the music scene like there these days?
I would say my family’s musical tastes maybe inspired me more so than the town itself. I grew up on the outskirts of London and so Football and sports were much more popular things for youngsters to do at the time, although It never stopped me pursuing what I really wanted to do. I can say that certainly in more recent years I’ve been lucky enough to work with some truly amazing players that being near London offers. The UK does have a very rich musical history and so getting to work with some of these wonderful people was certainly inspiring me indeed. These days, I’m currently living in Montreal, Canada, It’s a fantastic second home! The people here are so passionate about music, and the arts so yet again, It’s a place that’s greatly inspiring musically and culturally. I actually recorded a large portion of the ‘Strong’ album here in Montreal, so I feel like London & Montreal will always be a huge part of my musical journey.
How would you say that you have grown as an artist since you first starting making music? What has remained the same?
I certainly have. But it’s funny, I have really done a 360 turn in my career since I got into music at a young age. I’ve written and produced Rock songs, Country Songs, Pop songs, Urban, Classical music, TV Music and this has really helped me to grow over the years and allowed me to explore different styles, but I’ve also learned some things about myself going through all these musical avenues. It brought me back to where I started. I am now doing the style of music that I grew up with and what makes me happiest and where I feel the most connected, which is Music based around interesting arrangements and live musicians.
Let’s talk about your debut album, “Strong.” How did you go about putting this collection together? How did you pick the tracks to cover? Was it hard to narrow it down to REM’s “Losing My Religion” and George Michael’s “One More Try”? What is the significance of those two songs?
When I got the green light to make the album that I’d always dreamed of making, just having that opportunity was enough to inspire me musically and mentally. I was at a really happy place in my life and I feel this comes through in the lyrics. I aimed to make Strong an album with a positive outlook. Coming up with ideas for the covers was a fun process because I gave myself a wide spectrum and really tried to keep an open mind. Although I absolutely adore the American songbook and all those wonderful big band classics we all know and love, instead of covering songs which may be typically expected from a crooner, Instead, I wanted to choose tracks that were popular when I grew up with music. For me, that was mainly the late 80’s and through the 90’s. So I felt like there was a challenge there. I wanted to take some of my favorites and really see If I could cross them over into my world. The only criteria for me personally when choosing songs, is that I would only pick songs that I felt had a great story and meaning and also that I felt I could do something unique with, without forsaking the respect that comes with such iconic songs. Such as “Losing My Religion” and “One More Try”.
What are some of your favorite originals on “Strong”? Where did the inspiration for them come from? How do you generally go about writing your songs?
I’m really proud of “Shine On”. Lyrically it means a lot to me and also my family. The inspiration comes from those who we lose too early in life but never forget. They shine on in our memories. Another song I’m really proud of Is “Got A Thing For Swing”. It’s my homage to just some of the greats and also really tells the story of my connection for this type of music. I’ve set myself a mission to try and create brand new original big band songs and I’m really pleased with how that track turned out. I love to write songs with a subject in mind, but I won’t actually dive into a proper lyric until much later when I’ve decided on the feel and vibe of the track. I’ll work with an arranger and we’ll together craft the arrangement and then I’ll complete a rough lyric of the song for a first recording. Once I have the recorded track properly with live musicians, I then go back through the lyric and tidy upend change things before making a final vocal. It’s amazing how much more inspiration you feel when you hear the big band roaring away in your headphones vs recording to something basic. Sometimes even little shapes in the brass section can help to inspire me vocally and lyrically.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for you? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far? Do you have any upcoming shows the rest of this summer and into the fall? What’s next up for you?
I think any artist will tell you that the most ideal shows are really the ones that combine a great experience for the audience with great music and just receiving a similar energy and response back from the crowd. The great thing about this genre of music is that It appeals to a large audience so It’s great to see lots of different faces and ages in the crowd. I don’t really have a favorite performance because each show is generally different from the last and they all have their own quirks and memorable atmosphere. Sometimes I’ll perform to a real partying audience and sometimes they just prefer sitting back and enjoying each moment. I don’t really mind what type of audience I perform for as long as people come away having a great time. Upcoming, I have some tour dates still to be completed and I’m playing in select cities in Canada over the next few months. I’m also playing a few select dates in the US and gearing up to play in the UK.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate? Do you find that at your shows you have to say something about the political climate?
For me personally, I try to keep out anything that relates to a political view. I know that many artists enjoy writing about current events to inspire their songs and video’s and for them it’s a great way for them to convey their powerful messages. For me personally, I prefer to write about what Is generally inspiring me or going on with me and people around me at the time.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
It’s great fun having social media. It’s a nice way of really being able to have a direct link with your fans. During busy times It does get a little harder to create new musical content, But alongside music I also love to share some cool behind the scenes about the recording process, rehearsals etc etc.. I also like to share some cool family and life moments. I want to make sure I keep true to who I am but also keep those happy who are kind enough to follow me – it’s very much a priority. My favorite way of connecting with people on Social media at the moment is by a series of mini live performances I’ve created called “Croon This Tune”. Likers of the Facebook page submit their requests, which can be anything (Rock, pop, soul, big band, swing, classical) And I’ll create little mini covers of as many requests as I can. Some of them are really interesting suggestions. For example, We’ve had songs come in such as “Iris” from the Goo Goo Dolls, right the way though to “Nessun Dorma”. So its a lot of fun for me to try and take on lots of songs in different styles and try to do them, as I would, In my own style and voice.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I’m inspired by so many different artists, but I guess there is some common ground which ties them all together. The artists I’m most drawn to tend to use live musicians and have really great voices. I’m really inspired by artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Matt Monro, Diana Krall, George Michael, Michael Buble, Josh Groban etc.. I have a bucket list as long as my arm for some people I would love to work with as I’m such a big fan but I’d love to one day work closely with David Foster. He’s such a great musical mastermind, understands his audience so well and above all is a fantastic talent and artist in his own right. I recently attended his live show, which was just phenomenal and he’s created so many hits which became the soundtracks to many of our lives. I was lucky enough to have been handpicked by David himself in the audience and he brought me up on stage with him to sing. A real dream come true !
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
I would take my keyboard. It’s the main instrument I use to write with. I guess being stuck on an Island with just one record on repeat would drive you a little mad after a while, so at least if I took a keyboard I could write new songs to keep me sane and keep myself entertained.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I would absolutely love one of my songs to be featured or associated with a Bond movie.. There’s something about those bond songs that are so timeless, so classy, so powerful and have real musicians and just phenomenal arrangements. It would be a dream come true. I certainly think “Strong” Could be a really cool soundtrack.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
I hope that they’ll take away something that’s really authentic and from the heart. I put a lot of passion and care into absolutely everything that I do, and I feel that’s so important. If people are spending their hard earned money on your music and booking tickets to your shows, I feel like they deserve something that’s had a lot of blood, sweat and tears gone into it. I also think that having written and produced a lot of the records myself, It means that the people who support me really get to hear the music through my ears, and how I always wanted to present it.
(all photography provided by EMPKT PR)