Interview with King Charles

In the lead up to the release of his second album Gamble For A Rose on 22nd January 2016, London-based artist King Charles has released the dreamy music video for the title track. Continue reading below to learn more about the evolution of his sound, his upcoming album and hiding away in the English country side with Marcus Mumford to record his new album.

You’ve recently been busy working alongside Marcus Mumford (of Mumford and Sons) recording tracks for your second album, Gamble For A Rose. How has your approach to writing and recording this album matured or changed since the release of LoveBlood in 2012?

I wanted to get back to my roots with this record, back to all the sounds that first made me want to write music. I said to Marcus after a long tour that I wanted to make the album that I should have made 5 years ago. I’ve always felt that once the songs are written, that’s when I can let go and let the recording process take its course, but I am now much more focused on staying true to what I set out to do and keep the songs grounded in their roots.  

The early stages of recording your new album took place out on a farm in Exeter, several hundred kilometres away from London. What influenced you to temporarily relocate to the countryside?

I think there was too much going on in London at the time to keep our heads clear so decamping was a good idea. It was a lot of fun and a change from recording in Hollywood, which I haven’t anything against, but I knew this was going to be a different record.

Could you describe what your recording set-up looked like?

It was cool, very makeshift, everyone in one big room, a lot of different guitars and amps and keyboards lying around. We brought a lot of equipment down from London but we still needed to make little dens for the vocal booths and amps and make sure it was all-legit. We were experimenting at the beginning but got into a groove, which felt natural by the end. 

Were you given the opportunity to help out on the farm, or were you very focused on recording and brainstorming?

I walked the dog. 

While you were taking a break from recording, did you ever stare out the window and daydream and do you miss being there, away from the hustle and bustle of the city?

Being out of the city only seems to make sense when you’re out of the city so it took a bit of time to get used to it but I really got into the change in pace. It’s definitely a better life. 

Loose Change For The Boatman was the first single from the record, followed by Gamble For A Rose. When penning the lyrics for these songs, did you reflect on particular memories from your past, or a conglomeration of thoughts from here and there?

I remember scrawling the lyrics to Gamble For A Rose in a pub up north. It was very much about what was happening then. I think Loose Change For The Boatman is more reflective.

Will we hear the cello incorporated into any of your new music? 

I think so, I’m playing more and more these days. I always try to get it onto new recordings. 

Reflecting on your time spent in Exeter, have you discovered anything about yourself that has helped shape the way you create music or live your life day-to-day?

I think the process of recording can often clear your mind for new ideas so I think I’m enjoying humming different tunes and thinking about what’s next. It’s also a good feeling not to be piled up with ideas that your desperate to get onto record so I’m enjoying letting ideas come when they please.

What was it like shooting the underwater scenes of the dreamy, romantic Gamble For A Rose music video with London based cinematographer Claudia Legge?

Claudia is brilliant to work with. It was very new to me but I like being underwater so was happy to do lots of takes diving around and holding my breath, though to keep me still and stuck to the bottom I had to put weights in my back pockets which made coming up for air quite tricky. It was a great experience and we went to some beautiful places.

Five fast questions for five fast responses:

  • What was the first concert/gig you attended and where was it held? Bob Dylan – Finsbury Park
  • Which do you prefer more – sugar or spice? Hot sauce 
  • What is your favourite board/card game? Monopoly
  • Have you ever made a phone call using a payphone and if so, when? When I was really young
  • What is the name of your favourite childhood television show? Johnny Bravo
  • What’s been the biggest challenge faced during your music career? Not getting eaten by the industry.  

You’re offering fans the choice to pre-order signed copies of ‘Gamble For A Rose’ in CD and vinyl formats, as well as online through iTunes. Are you glad that there is still demand for vinyl records, especially in a world where online streaming services are becoming more and more common? 

I’m very happy to be releasing the album on vinyl, it sounds how I want it to sound and I think the experience of listening to music on vinyl is more rewarding.  

If you hadn’t pursued a career in music, what would you be doing right now?

I’ve always wanted to fly planes.  

Finally, what’s one piece of advice you would give to your teenage self?

Enjoy it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Best wishes for the release of your album and upcoming UK tour!


This interview was first published on 19 December 2015 for Amnplify.

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