Music, musicals, and positivity – all things that make you ‘Smile Again’ with Mark Read

Mark Read of the UK/ Norwegian band A1 has just released his new single “Smile Again” today. Ahead of its release, we asked the talented singer-songwriter and theatre practitioner to tell us more about his new song, his music, what he’s inspired by and what his future plans are, including any new EPs/albums, and touring with the other A1 lads.

After the successful release of the lockdown inspired song ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped)’ in May 2020, Mark Read (from A1) has unveiled his follow-up single ‘Smile Again’.

Co-written with legendary British songwriter Russ Ballard (‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, ‘God Gave Rock & Roll to You’) Arno Spires and Christian Ballard (Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera), this empowering Summer dance track with its uplifting Tropical House vibes and inspirational lyrics, celebrates coming out of a dark place and facing the world again with a smile.

Listening to the new song, and we immediately feel the glow from its rays of positivity. The feel-good and catchy tune does also seem to remind us of the same summer-y feelings we get from A1’s 1999 pop hit ‘Summertime of Our Lives’.

Fans have also taken to the internet to show their love for the new song. The new single has sparked the #SmileAgainChallenge where fans on social media from all over the world have been posting smiley photos and nominating friends and family members they would like to see ‘Smile Again’, as well as already using the border for their social media DP.

AL365: Hi Mark! Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for answering our questions. Massive congrats on your previous single ‘Where Were You (When The World Stopped)’! We really love it – both the original and the acoustic versions. And! We love Smile Again as well! Contacts on today’s release as well!

With regards to your earlier single – you mentioned that ‘Where Were You (When The World Stopped Moving)’ was a combined effort between Jonathan and yourself. What was it like coming up with the melody line for the song? Did it just come to you, or was it a journey of tweaking a series of chords?

Mark: Great question , every song is different , sometimes melody coming first or vice versa with the lyrics, I happen to really like writing with lyricists so that I can interpret their words , and in this case, it was very instantaneous , I’d never written a song with my close friend Jonathan and then all of a sudden he’s sending me lyrics, I was very intrigued and inspired and particularly with what was going on in the World at that time, his words really spoke to me so I sat at the piano and a melody came into my head right away,  the whole song was written in around half hour. with very little tweaking.

AL365: The music video to that song is a beautiful piece. There are so many clips in there – all stitched up, and it looks like you used everyone’s submission. Bless… Exactly how many videos did you receive and what was it like for you and your team to stitch it all together?

Mark: I received somewhere around 150-200 submissions which is incredible that so many people got involved, I’d like to think it was because they liked the song and not just because they had lots of time on their hands 😉 I have incredibly supportive fans and an amazing team, but the stitching together was all me, sat at my computer for hours, but the clips were so moving and inspiring it was a pleasure to put together, and I can now say I’ve created and edited my first music video.

AL365: What is your anticipated single inspired by? You mentioned that it is a positive song about someone coming out of a dark place? What is its story or underlying message?

The song was actually conceived and partially written a number of years ago, when I was a full time songwriter, writing for different artists, and at the time a female friend of mine was going through a really difficult time in her life and it was also around the time when people really started opening up about mental health and challenging it as a taboo subject which of course it shouldn’t be and it’s great we’re in a time where people are opening up much more and being supportive to each other in difficult times, that was the inspiration behind the song then, and I think it applies even more so now. 

AL365: Do you hope, like your previous single, ‘Smile Again’ will be a source of hope, solace and source of support to listeners out there?

Mark: 100%! As I get older I feel making music is less about selling albums and having number 1 hits and more about connecting with people. Over the years I’ve had so many amazing messages saying how our songs helped them through difficult times and that really is the power of music and what I feel I’m on this earth for, whether it’s with thought provoking or fun uplifting songs that make you want to smile and dance.  

AL365: Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration or source of support?

Mark: My parents firstly, they’re both very musical so they have always inspired and encouraged me. Also the way they have handled certain challenges in our lives has really helped me to see what’s most important in life. 

AL365: With two singles out now, where do you see your future as a solo artist? Can we expect to hear more songs – perhaps another album, or an EP? 🙂

Mark: I did a Christmas EP called ‘Once Upon a December’ which I plan on adding more songs to so that will eventually become an album, the longest Christmas album in production 4 years in the making 🙂 I would love to release another solo album and I think already with WWY and Smile Again it’s potentially off to a good start.

AL365: If you had a TARDIS or time machine and could pick one moment, music or otherwise, in time to go back to, which one would it be and why?

Mark: If I had a TARDIS ? Well first I’d have to learn how to drive it unless it came with the Doctor 🙂 But I would without a doubt travel back to the height of Beatlemania and Las Vegas to see Elvis perform. Hang on..if I had a time machine, knowing all the songs I know now, i’d probably go back before the Beatles write their songs and get in the room with them or release them first , good idea for a film 😉 

AL365: What would you say is your favourite musical of all time and why?

Mark: Animated musical would be Lion King as it came out in the peak of a golden age of modern Disney animated classics and everything else that followed seemed to emulate that formula. All of those classic early 90s Disney movies were the best, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, without those there’d be no Frozen, Moana etc.. non animated and stage wise I’d say Little Shop of Horrors as it combines 2 of my passions, music and puppetry. 

AL365: When the touring is allowed again, which do you see yourself doing first? Diving straight back into theatre, or touring again with the a1 lads? Or doing your own tour as a solo artist?

Mark: Well firstly there will be a fair amount of cancelled 2020 dates that need to be rescheduled starting with a1 Boys Are Back Tour with other bands like 5ive, 911 and Damage, can’t wait for that, and then i’ll think about some solo shows. I don’t think there’ll be any musical performances for a while unfortunately, but I can’t wait to get back on stage and perform to an audience in any capacity.

AL365: Last but certainly not least – anything you like to say to your fans out there?

Mark: Always..Thank you for continuing to let me indulge in doing what I love more than anything else, singing, performing, writing songs and reaching out to people all over the world, I can’t begin to express my gratitude, I hope making you smile with a song like Smile Again is just a small way to return the favour.  Stay safe and see you soon. 

AL365: Thanks again Mark. Take care and we hope to see you again very soon!

Listen to more of Mark Read below. Also keep a look out for the ‘Smile Again’ Lyric video which will be available on Youtube and Facebook during the weekend of its release.





Let me know what’s up!

Be up to date of the news and events from Asia Live 365