He’s got a hairstyle reminiscent of a pantomime dame and a much-anticipated album called LoveBlood, which is out in March. He is, of course, King Charles. Following the dispersion of Adventure Playground he’s achieved the accolade of being the first Brit to win the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville. VultureHound caught up with him to chat about his music and inimitable fashion sense.
What inspires his songs? “Girls. Ideas about love, and that leads to girls.” The fact that many of his song titles contain the word ‘love’ or a girls’ name is testament to this. His debut album is full of joyful-sounding ditties carried by calypso-style guitar riffs and bouncy beats. “My songs may sound happy, but a lot of the sources of inspiration aren’t,” he explains. “I like the idea of celebrating sadness, and that’s what I want to get across. Love can be difficult, but there is always a sense of joy.”
He sounds like an old-fashioned romantic, but this is no bad thing. His upbeat vibe is a welcome change from the gloom and heartbreak favoured by some singer-songwriters. Then there’s his flamboyant sense of style. “I’ve always looked a bit outlandish,” he laughs. “I want my clothes to celebrate my personality. On stage it’s a duet of the personal and sartorial. It’s the glam element of ‘glam folk’.”
“It’s not about the instruments, it’s more about the way it’s presented,” he explains. “I coined the term myself. It’s music for people, about people.” It’s certainly accessible and easy to listen to, and there are definite folk influences in his melodies and sometimes old-fashioned turn of phrase. If glam-folk describes a sound that has evolved from traditional folk but contains elements of acoustic pop, then it’s a fitting term.
Since winning the International Songwriting Competition, Charles’s success has rocketed. What are his most notable achievements? “Obviously winning the competition, it led to a lot of things that I’m thankful for,” he says. “Then there was touring with Mumford and Sons, and playing the biggest stage I’ve ever played in Latvia. It was amazing.”
The glam-folk package is clearly working wonders, and it’s no surprise as this man knows a thing or two about being glam. At the age of fifteen, he fronted a Kiss tribute band. “I dislike the term cheese-rock to describe that music,” he says. “In its day, it was done with one hundred percent sincerity. You can’t argue with its authenticity. Just because there’s not really a place for it today doesn’t mean it should be a guilty pleasure.”
A man who appreciates classic rock is a winner in our books. But what can we expect from his album? “It’ll change the shape of your world,” he says “I want to work with Azealia Banks. Oh, and make a punk album with Laura Marling. That would definitely change the shape of people’s worlds.” If King Charles keeps his promises, 2012 looks set to be a very exciting year. Prepare for the world to turn square.
Thea de Gallier