Mark Vaughan Kay
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Mark Vaughan Kay

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Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

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Mark Vaughan Kay, "Life In Stone" (To be released 02/14/11)

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In a sea of singer-songwriters, Washington, DC native Mark Vaughan Kay is a shark. While most of his kind spend their time waxing philosophically on springtime in the mountains, first kisses and road trips to hometown’s lost, he separates himself with a wholly unique world perspective, swirling black and white together until they make gray. While it would be remiss to say that Mark Vaughan Kay is without that sort of soul-searching romanticism, it’s all about balance with him, finding that space between the light and dark.

Having freshly returned to the Washington, DC music scene from a songwriting sojourn and tour throughout the southern states, Mark Vaughan Kay is poised to release his debut album, Life In Stone, in February of 2011. “This album is about finding yourself in the aftermath of one-hundred ‘What If‘s?’ It’s been a long time in the making and that’s for good reason,” says Kay. “Just as much as it’s about putting that puzzle together, it needed to be authentic, and the journey was integral to that process.”

Life In Stone is an album written in bathrooms and subways, from the sunny beaches to cold city streets. Equal parts sunny angst and hopeful pessimism, it’s the soundtrack of a man who let love be his guide and the road it took him on. This first independent release is a blend of singer-songwriter musings and anthemic alternative rock crescendos, drawing comparison to texture-driven bands like U2, Radiohead and Coldplay, while maintaining the singer-songwriter sensibilities of artists like Pete Yorn, PJ Harvey and Jeff Buckley. His music is atmospheric, sound trackian in scope and wide-ranging in influences. While his layered, churning guitar style weaves in and out of each track, his greatest strength lies in his vocal prowess. Low murmurs bend and turn into sweeping falsettos, sweeping falsettos twist into full-voiced passionate pleas. His vocal range is impressive, but it’s his connection to what he’s singing about that comes through most clearly. Songs like “Life In Stone” and “What Never Was” showcase the texture of his songwriting style, compiling instrument upon instrument, building to frenzied climaxes. “Omens” shows his singer-side at his most dynamic, a melody that twists and turns like mountain roads from another planet. Tracks like “This Time” and “Forevermore” evoke a completely distinct tone within the context of album, bright and shimmering, full of hope and passion. In counterpoint, “A Calm” is a menacing vamp, like a drive down city streets at night that you don’t belong to, “Paper” an atmospheric foray into spacy sounds swirling around jazz-inspired vocals.

It is of particular note that he is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, keeping the legacy of grassroots, guerilla musicianship alive and well: “I come from a fairly musical family,” he mentions. “My father plays guitar and my mother is always singing, plus five brothers with their own musical skillsets as well.” At 9 years-old, Kay picked up the violin, eventually transitioning to other stringed orchestral instruments like cello and bass, and eventually piano before stumbling upon his next calling: vocalizing. “It all started with some homemade acapella recording I did in my parents’ bathroom as a freshman in high school. I gave this girl that tape and word started to travel that I could really sing. I had no idea what that meant at the time.” Kay added the guitar into his repertoire shortly after that discovery, plucking out tracks by his favorite bands by ear until before he knew it, he was writing his own songs at only 16 years-old. “The muses found me at an early age. I’ve been theirs ever since.”

This spring, Mark Vaughan Kay will be embarking on a solo acoustic tour in support of his debut album. In the meantime, he can be found playing live in Washington, DC and the outlying territories in anticipation of his release. He looks forward to seeing you and hearing your stories, all the while sharing his authentic and unique musical voice in a bigger pond.