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Interview with singer-songwriter King Charles, who is undertaking 40 marathons and 40 gigs in 40 days

He’s not really a king, sadly, but 12 years ago King Charles – real name Charles Costa – became something of a King of Songwriting when he became the first ever British person to win Nashville’s International Songwriting Competition.

Singer-songwriter King Charles
Singer-songwriter King Charles

The contest was judged by famed singer-songwriter Tom Waits, guitar legend Jeff Beck, country music superstar Loretta Lynn, and one of the ‘founding fathers’ of rock and roll, Jerry Lee Lewis.

The song that won the rather foppish West Londoner the coveted award was Love Lust – and listening to it now, it certainly sounds innovative, difficult to pigeon-hole and ahead of its time. Since then, the classically-trained singer – who also plays a number of instruments – has put out three albums, the most recent of which, Out of My Mind, was released in 2020.

The Portland Arms will play host to this unique and talented artist in November. Before then, he is running 40 marathons in 40 days to support the Regenerate charity. Unsurprisingly, Charles says he has been doing “a lot of training”, as well as preparing to release an EP in the autumn to follow his latest singles, Animal and 12345.

Charles, who has amassed more than 100 million streams, says: “I released an album, Out of My Mind, in April 2020, and then I couldn’t do that tour, so I had a lot of time to write. Then when things got a little bit more figured out, we spent a bit of time in the studio and then things started coming together and we’ve come up with a plan for new releases.

“It’s been amazing to have something to look forward to and the studio time has been fantastic.” Charles adds: “I’ve got a kind of home set-up where I was making demos on my own, and when things got a bit looser then we could go into the studio.

“There were still things like social distancing but it was a real light at the end of the tunnel having something to release at the end of it. It’s come out very positive and upbeat and a great kind of tempo, flavour and sound – rather than just being a product ruminating on lockdown and isolation, because I don’t think anyone wants to hear that.”

Charles, whose music has been described as ‘indie folk’, also gave a few live-streamed performances during lockdown “but not very much, to be honest. I was playing drums a lot, which was a real kind of therapeutic process, and practising instruments, singing Bob Dylan songs...”

Singer-songwriter King Charles
Singer-songwriter King Charles

He feels “100 hundred per cent” ready to get back out on tour, noting: “The tour’s now been 18 months postponed so in that time there’s new tunes, there’s new music to play... I think the energy is going to be out of control when October comes and people are back sweating in venues, so I’m really, really excited about that.”

Before the tour kicks off in Manchester on October 30, Charles has his daunting running challenge to complete. He started the Feel Good JOGLE, a 1,782 kilometre run taking him from John O’Groats to Land’s End, on July 25, in an attempt to raise £100,000 for the youth and community charity Regenerate. A small crew from the charity is accompanying him.

He is also playing a live show every single day of the journey, which will be improvised on a daily basis. In short, he is attempting to complete 40 marathons and 40 gigs in just 40 days. The music will be collaborative with local artists and other musician friends of Charles will join at different stages.

Aside from supporting Regenerate, the Feel Good JOGLE aims to spark conversation, to both encourage people to share their problems and to change preconceptions around mental health issues. It’s something Charles feels passionately about, having experienced his own long-term struggle with psychological issues following a serious skiing accident in 2010.

The longer-term impact of his trauma affected the parts of his brain which controlled his inhibitions and emotions, and it wasn’t until 2018 that he was discharged. He is now “much better, thank you” – adding: “I’ve never felt better actually, on that front.”

View Charles’ fundraising page at justgiving.com/campaign/TheFeelGoodJog. The challenge is being documented throughout the route via live videos on the @kingcharlesuk and @regenerateuk social media channels.

King Charles is set to perform at The Portland Arms on Tuesday, November 2. For more information, go to theportlandarms.co.uk. For more on King Charles, visit kingcharlesmusic.com.

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