Maitland singer, songwriter Kingsley James has delivered a truly incredible debut single, You and I. Exuding soul and passion, Kingsley blends the sounds of early Marvin Gaye and Elvis, with modern influences such as Marlon Williams, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes.
He’s been tearing recently on a regional New South Wales tour so we caught up with him for a chat.
We caught up with the talented Kingsley James to chat about his stunning debut single You and I, and the music scene in Maitland.
HAPPY: Hey Kingsley, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
KINGSLEY: Hello Happy Mag, it’s going really damn well actually thank you for asking but I’m rather feeling happy, very happy!
I’ve just gotten back from Thirroul after spending the weekend there for a gig at the funky Franks Wild Years Record Shop and Bar.
Currently though I’m about to visit some friends for some pizza and other silly things.
HAPPY: We’ve loved ‘You and I’! How does it feel sending it out to the world?
KINGSLEY: Im becoming more proud of it everyday, especially the more i play it live.
It still shits me to listen to but i can still appreciate it for what it is. I try and look at it as a point in time. A little part of me on the table of life.
HAPPY: Tell us a bit about your musical upbringing, who were you’re inspirations as a kid?
KINGSLEY: My dad collected records all of his life and used to play them since i can remember. I really loved Elvis, Paul McCartney, Elton John, The Rolling Stones. The greats really.
I didn’t really start playing music though till I was a teen then realised how much it affected me with its positivity.
HAPPY: What is the music scene like in Maitland when ‘Grooving the Moo’ isn’t tearing up the town?
KINGSLEY: I’d say Maitland has more of a creative then just a music scene if that makes sense, we all kind of work together to help each other. Theres an event coming up called ‘Into The Void’ at the Factory in Maitland, thats a pretty decent collection of local artists teaming together to put on a show.
The Grand Junction Hotel in Maitland is also a huge hub for local music, its been the heart of music in the area for over 20 years. You get some really great acts coming in playing anything from country, clues, funk, rock, rockabilly, jazz and everything in between. Theres an unreal mix of bands coming through at least three times a week. For me that Pub is the heart of music in Maitland.
Also there’s a great new venue thats opened up called “Live at the Levee”, its an opening in the mall that looks out over the river. Really beautiful spot to play, they get all sorts of artists to come down and play there of a Friday night for a hours, theres a really funky new Cafe there also called Coquun. They resource all of there ingredients as locally as possible and only really use Australian products.
I really recommend taking a look at their page, it’ll give you a good idea of the venue. The architecture is incredible!
HAPPY: How has the tour been so far? It looks amazing!
KINGSLEY: Its been a real change of pace for me, taking the risk of quitting my job and just going for it, i feel more alive then ever. Meeting all the lovely people along the way has been the best thing about it for me. Im starting to feel more comfortable with who I’m becoming as a musician and as a person.
HAPPY: Tell us a bit about your relationship with writing music?
KINGSLEY: When i first started writing i was about 18, i just wanted to get something down so i could play a gig. I found it difficult at first and felt i over analysed every little detail of the song and its process. Ive definitely grown since then and try to keep it more simple now when needed. My lyrics are the most important thing i have in my music and i now find it easier to communicate it across to others. Its becoming more fun and enjoyable, I’m beginning to fall in love with it.
HAPPY: What inspires you?
KINGSLEY: Damn happy mag thats a good question, mmm people do definitely. Love does, emotions, trees, the weather, sex, tragedy, women, lovers past and present, desires. Desire is a big one. Dark moments especially when youre in some sort of rut with life, the piano for me is the best thing to turn too sometimes. Also making people smile is a wonderful thing to see when your’e playing live, that really hits hard. I still don’t know why exactly I’m doing it but i guess its better then sitting on your ass feeling sorry for yourself you know.
HAPPY: Was there some divine, breakthrough moment when music, life and purpose all come together and made sense to you?
KINGSLEY: It’s a combination of moments through out my time, reflecting on things you’ve done, things you’ve gotten through. You don’t realise until you look back and think ‘dang i did that, that’s pretty red hot‘. I don’t think anything ever just comes together, theres always learning to do and its a constant learning process for me. I’ve tried to stop thinking about things making sense, it may seem illogical but life is life and nothing makes sense really. Just enjoy it!
HAPPY: You have a beautiful, commanding baritone voice, when did you know you could sing?
KINGSLEY: I think I was around 10 or so, I joined the choir at school and was the only boy soprano believe it or not. I had singing lessons on and off until I was about 21 with a lovely lady named Caroline in my hometown of Maitland. I really have to thank her for teaching me how to use this weird old voice of mine. I really miss singing lessons they were always fun.
HAPPY: What’s next for Kingsley James? Any other exciting plans in the works?
KINGSLEY: After the Tour I’m planning on a lot more song writing. Hopefully going away for work and maybe even recording a little thing or two. Apart from that I’m going to try my best to enjoy life and the people around me.
Also try get off the the socials for a while, they really shit me!
HAPPY: You don’t have to tell me twice! Thanks a lot!