PART 1 - "THE INTERVIEW"
What was your first musical memory and what pushed you towards pursuing a career in the record industry?
"I was always picked for the assembly choir in school so I must have been a better than average singer I suppose! Then I learned to play the recorder and later on the trumpet, even had a few piano lessons. I played in a brass band at school too, but when I reached fourteen or so the guitar became the instrument of choice. I’ve never really pursued a career in the music industry, I enjoy writing, playing and performing but I’m not sure I’d want to do it for a living really."
Had you been involved with any other bands prior to becoming a solo artist as Derek King?
"When I was sixteen, living near Guildford in the late seventies, I was in a new wave band called the Ellery Bops. I used to play bass back then. We were actually pretty good and played quite a few decent gigs. When we split up two of our members joined two lads out of another local band called The Vapors and they went on to have a hit or two – 'Turning Japanese' being their most famous. I was never asked to join The Vapors because I had the wrong haircut! Sometimes when I’m drunk I’ve been known to tell people that I was actually in The Vapors, but when they Google it they find I’m a fibber! Then more recently, after a long, long break from music, I’ve played in a classic rock covers band called the Crystal Hogs, and then a slightly more artistically up-market outfit called Blue Magneto."
Why did you choose to become a solo artist instead of forming a band?
"I find that playing with a band can be draining for a number of reasons: artistic and musical differences, dealing with egos and all that stuff. But the most difficult problem to overcome when all the band members are grown-ups with jobs and families, is actually getting everyone together in the same place at the same time! When I was in the Hogs and Blue Magneto we used to cancel more gigs than we played simply because we couldn’t get everyone’s diaries to align. As a solo artist I get the final say over how I want my songs to sound – even if an idea turns out to be rubbish, at least it’s my own rubbish! I can’t blame anyone else for ditching or diluting my good song writing ideas, and no-one can blame me for ruining their ideas either. Also if I want to go and play a gig, there is only me and my own diary to worry about, I sling my guitar on my back and I’m away."
How would you describe the sound of Derek King?
"Tricky question. I like to think of myself as in the 'adult contemporary' bracket I suppose. I like my songs to say something that appeals to the listener without preaching and without the music taking itself too seriously, and I like to include some melodic hooks in my songs that can be a bit poppy. I’m strictly a four minute kind of guy though – no long, self-indulgent instrumental solos for me."
Your latest EP is called ‘Sometimes’. Why did you choose this as the title?
"'Sometimes' is the name of the title track of course; the EP features four songs, each of which has a distinct mood I think. There’s a light hearted love song, a lazy summer’s afternoon song, a rocky pop feel good song and a deep and meaningful song about inner angst. They’re feelings we all have sometimes, hence the name of the collection."
What is the title track about and what influenced it?
"It’s a song about my significant other. I started with the first line 'Most days her eyes are clear blue pools, but sometimes her eyes look green', which is actually true, and then I built the song around all her little contradictions, and how sometimes I can’t for the life of me understand her, but I put it all in a light-hearted kind of way. I’m quite proud of the lyrics actually, my favourite line is 'She’s like the pages of an open book, but written in a language that I can’t read'."
Do you have any 'rituals' before going on stage?
"Not really, I try and warm my hands up and sing a few high notes to warm my voice up, and I try never to drink more than one alcoholic drink before I play, but I’m not superstitious at all. Actually I break that rule about alcohol more often than I should!"
Any live dates coming up?
"I try to at least play one event each week, even if it’s just turning up and playing at an open mic session. This November is quite exciting though: on Friday 1st I’m hosting the K’s Choice event at Unit 51 in the Baltic Triangle which features five other artists, but as I’m hosting I’ll be playing a few numbers. Then on Thursday 21st I’m playing a solo set at Schmooze Wine Bar in Penny Lane, and on Friday 22nd I’m hosting K’s Choice at Hopskotch in Mathew Street. I’ve also just found out that my song 'Beautiful in Blue', which nobody will have heard yet, has made it to the final of the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge, which is also on Friday 22nd November, so I’m not sure how I’ll manage to be in the two places at once..."
Any new songs in the pipeline?
"Well, as I mentioned before 'Beautiful in Blue' has been entered for the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge, so I’ll probably release this on Soundcloud soon. I’ve also got a good few other song ideas simmering away, it’s just a matter of finding time and discipline to finish them."
When can fans be expecting the next release?
"Fans? I don’t really think I have too many fans apart from my mum, my sister and my girlfriend! I regularly put recordings up on Soundcloud though, which get a respectable number of listens. Most of my songs are recorded as demo versions using fairly basic kit that I own myself, and then I edit them myself on my laptop. I would one day like to get some studio time with proper sound techies and re-do about ten or a dozen of my tracks and release an album. There are two things that stop me doing this – time (because I work full-time) and money."
Who would be your dream collaboration?
"I think my favourite singer/songwriter must be Billy Joel. I’d love to work with him. Or perhaps Joni Mitchell. I imagine they’d probably both think I was rubbish though."
Who would be in your dream super group?
"Tough one, but I reckon Brian May and Pete Townshend on guitars – very individual styles so it would be great to hear them together, John Entwistle on bass, perhaps a little keyboard from Jon Lord from Deep Purple, two female vocalists, how does Sheryl Crowe and Stevie Nicks sound? Some drums from Jon Bonham too. What a band that would be!"
PART 2 - "THE QUICKFIRE ROUND"
"John Lennon - they named an airport after him!"
"Slade was the first band I ever listened to, and I still love them."
Favourite new band?
"Difficult to say because all bands you hear on the radio are manufactured. I can’t think of any bands that stand out for me. Singer-songwriters are different; I’m a big fan of Liverpool’s very own Robert Vincent at the moment."
"Both Sides Now, by Joni Mitchell."
"For sheer songwriting skill, I'm yet to hear anything to beat Rumours by Fleetwood Mac."
Vinyl, CD or download?
"Vinyl every time - it's what I grew up with."
"Sorry, what's one of them?"
Favourite clothing brand?
"George at Asda."
Favourite TV show?
"At the moment I'm watching a box set of Dexter."
Who would play you in a film of your life?
"Tom Cruise of course, same height as me (i.e. short)!"
Hope you enjoyed this feature on Derek King! Check out our previous feature on Tilt Shift Music!
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