Generally friendly, affectionate and good with both children and animals’ – the Wikipedia definition for my search when I set out for this interview… Silly Google. Sorry dog lovers, this ain’t an interview with a spaniel. I amend my search and discover that Charles Costa was born in West London in 1985, a time when music was paramount, he is the only man who can rock the man-bun, ‘tasche and open shirt/chest hair combo in the modern day- and trust me, he rocks it well. Now working under the alias King Charles, he’s a one man whirlwind of talent and is coming to Sheffield this month, we should feel honoured. He joins me on the blower for a midday conversation regarding all aspects of life. From what I gather, that initial definition seems quite fitting – he was very polite.
How’s it going?
‘Yeah I’m good, it’s all good. I’m at home in London right now just trying to take it easy before I start touring, I’m preparing for the storm ahead, as it were. I’m not ready to brave the cold just yet. I hear you had some snow up North, I’m sorry to tell you, Ellie, but it’s blue skies down South – I’m not fooled, it’s still freezing.’
What’ve you been upto?
‘I’ve just finished in the studio recording my new album, it’s just going through having the final touches put on, it’s been amazing to be so focussed and working so hard on it – it’s the album I’ve always wanted to make. I’m ready to get back out there and on tour. It’s been so long since I’ve had a UK tour and it’s always fantastic, I’m feeling really good about it.’
How would you describe your sound?
‘I think with things I’ve done before, fans and audiences have kind of struggled to put their finger on it, on the exact sound that it plays on. The stuff I’ve just been working on and am working towards completing is a new approach, it won’t be what’s expected. I’m going back to my roots and exploring more of a singer/songwriter vibe – it’ll be surprising to a lot of people but I’m hoping they’ll dig it.’
What’s on the agenda for this year?
‘2015 is kicking off with a mighty punch, I’ve done 13 days straight in the studio which, whilst tiring, has been an amazing experience. I’ve been working closely with Marcus Mumford, he’s producing the new album and we’ve been doing some tracks together. We’ve all been working like absolute animals to get stuff done – it’s been a lot of fun. Other that studio-work, the plan for 2015 is to just work hella hard, it’s exciting stuff for all this to be happening all at once. I’ve chopped my hair and I’ve made myself a new look, it’s me returning to my roots. Ha. I’ve lost the ‘image’. I want to make music because I love it. I would like a holiday, but I don’t think I deserve it just yet; I’ve got a lot of touring to get off my chest first, I have festivals to play and people to perform too – I’ll do that until I get weary, which I hope doesn’t happen but I think it’s probably gonna. I’ll probably change my mind about the holiday thing after a week of touring.’
Where would you like to be in five years?
‘My realistic goals for a five year time scale is to still be doing what I’m doing, I still want to be inspired to write and create and have things to talk about. Being part of an artistic community such as this is an amazing thing and I’d love to still be so involved. Less realistically, I’d like to be planning for a tour of the planet – I think maybe then I’d need a holiday.
What are you currently listening to?
‘I’m listening to a lot of the stuff I grew up with, so things like Exile on Main Street, lots of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan Bootleg Series – I feel like I’m revisiting all these sounds. I’m very much listening to a load of spiritual stuff. It’s healthy.’
What was the first record you ever bought?
‘It was undoubtedly the single of ‘Don’t Speak’ by No Doubt, I remember being 12/13 sort of age and being very pleased with that. I actually got to work with the producer of that (Matthew Wilder) when I was working on some new stuff, which was pretty cool.’
If you could play a gig with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
‘I don’t wanna narrow it down, it’s hard to pick. I think for the dead category it’d have to be Johnny Cash, and for the alive part, it has to be Bob Dylan. When I set out to be a musician, those were the two who pushed me on to do it through their music, they were pioneers in their own way. When I first began to get inspired to write it was them that influenced that. Their music really resonates so to do some kind of collaboration with either would be incredible.’
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be and why?
‘I’d totally be a ballet dancer, I’ve always wanted to do that. Ballet is an incredibly beautiful art-form, I’d love to perform the classics like Swan Like or Nutcracker. I think that’d be really good.’
What’s your favourite song of yours and why?
‘To date, my personal favourite is ‘Wilde Love’ from the last album (Loveblood); it’s the final track and I’m very fond of it. As the name suggests, it has references to ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’, a poem by Oscar Wilde within it. It’s always had a big impact on myself and my life, so managing to incorporate that into a song is extremely pleasing. It feels good to proclaim something other than my own works and my own lyrics, it’s a powerful thing.’
See the King play Plug on the 15th of February. A good mood upper for your post-Valentines whining. Chest hair and medallion s at the ready people.
By Ellie Greenfield