by: SEAN GAYNOR
photo by: apex35mm
I had the chance to sit down with the insanely talented ladies of KING before their show at the El Rey this Sunday supporting Meshell Ndegeocello. They opened up about their sound, influences, and how it all began…
S: You guys are gearing up for your debut album release- what would you say has been the most exciting part of that process?
P: It’s been so awesome seeing how everything has come together. We’ve had the opportunity to take our time and come up with unique ideas, concepts, and fun arrangements of the songs, so it’s great to hear the album as a finished piece of work where we left no creative stone unturned.
S: Did you envision it as a whole project from the get go? Or were they individual tracks? What was the creative process like?
P: The creative process was really an expansion of the EP, which was definitely the genesis of the album. In making the record, we wanted to expand on the thoughts, feelings and musicality we put into the initial three songs. We came together and collaborated on every aspect of the album.
S: Would you say there’s a theme to it?
Amber: We’ve found that the songs have a common flavor just by default coming from the three of us, but the album is not a ‘conceptual’ album. We touch on common themes of self discovery and love, but the overwhelming quality of the songs is usually that it’s just fun music.
P: I’d definitely also say it’s fun. Even for the slower songs we always wanted to include elements that kept the listening fun. Part of our style is including lots of little surprises and interesting instrumentation- but overall, we just wanted to convey the fact that we were having a blast making it.
S: Nowadays lots of music has an EDM vibe, and your music goes a bit against the grain with it’s lo-fi flavor. Do you find yourselves influenced by a lot of what’s out today?
P: We’re just making what comes naturally to us, and we’ve been greatly influenced by what we’ve been listening to all of our lives. What’s cool about the process of working together is finding a place for all of the old influences but adding a new flavor, and really just creating a musical melting pot. We just make the music that we would have always loved to hear. And there’s one question about every song we make that we ask ourselves, “Is this jammin’?” (laughs). And it’s always gotta be jammin’.
S: Would you say the new technology available today has influenced or inspired your sound? Helped you to bring the old styles to the new?
P: It’s really cool because now you have the technology that makes recording on your own or at home much easier, but still have access to every instrument that anyone ever used since forever- it’s the best of both worlds. We’re a product of a new way of recording, but use a lot of vintage and analog instruments as well. It’s been great to try to capture the warmth and the feeling of music we love by using recent technology.
S: You guys pride yourselves on being the “Kings of your musical Kingdom”, what has your experience been like as keeping things independent to KING?
P: In our experience independence hasn’t been difficult. Independence is so second nature to us as far as making the decisions about what we want to do. We don’t confuse independence with not wanting to collaborate with outside sources, but it’s been good to know that between us, everything that we do would have been what the three of us want.
S: If I’m not mistaken you guys just finished an East coast headlining tour, how was it?
Anita: It was great. Knowing that our music is traveling across the country and people are really enjoying the music is incredible. There were some really cool crowds out there in Boston, DC, and New York. We’re just glad to be able to share it with everybody and receive a lot of love.
S: I also understand you just had a show in Minneapolis, was it the first time you ever played in your hometown?
P: Yes, it was our first time as KING. And it was kind of a full circle moment because it was at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios – a brilliant place that at times looks like you’re walking through a movie or sometimes a cartoon. It was great to look into the crowd at home and be like “Oh, there’s mom and dad! And our entire extended family!” And Prince performed a DJ set after our show, which was of course incredible. When people came to see us, you know no one expects to just see Prince walking around…
S: I don’t think anyone ever expects that haha.
P: He throws a great party.
S: I would imagine!
P: Seriously one of the most fun dance parties ever.
S: That’s awesome. And boogeying down with your family I’m sure was cool.
P: Yeah, it was incredible to share the music with them.
S: Anita and Amber, you guys are the singers, and I’ve noticed you really come alive on stage and we really see this beautiful amazing other side of you. How did you develop that courage?
Amber: I think we’re true to ourselves and all three of us really enjoy making the music, so it’s just about keeping real to those elements. Being able to perform the music that we all wrote together and just have a ton of fun is what we’re all about.
S: Paris and Amber, you guys are transplants to Los Angeles, what would you say inspired the move to LA and what have you come to love about it since you moved?
P: After finishing school at Berklee in Boston and an internship in the Bay area, I was looking for my next step and had initially wanted to get into film scoring and orchestral writing. At that point, I remember calling Patrice Rushen, who had always been very kind when I met her in Minneapolis and Boston, and just asking for her advice about what to do and where to go because she’d been a lifelong inspiration. She explained that LA was the natural choice, and sight unseen, I called a friend and we just made the drive.
S: So you weren’t envisioning KING from the get go?
P: KING could have never been a vision without Amber and Anita. No one could have planned it- we just all got in the same room and it just was.
S: What do you like about LA?
Paris: The culture is great as an entertainment city, which means you’re exposed to all different kinds of art and artists; there’s always something going on. There’s a lot of cool people and being in a city where creative people come from all over the world to do their work is inspiring.
S: So then you started wanting to be a composer? Tell me about the shift to KING then when did that happen?
P: I met Anita in college but it was very brief, I only heard her sing for a few seconds, but it was enough for her to make a big impression. I was a senior and getting ready to leave Boston and she was a Freshmen just starting out- I didn’t get her contact info or anything. But then we ran into each other out here in LA at this jam session. She walked up and said “Do you remember me?” and I was like “I could never forget! You’re that girl with that voice!” When we began hanging out, I kept telling her I had this amazing twin sister, but the only recordings I had were of us in like 8th grade which was hilarious, but as soon as I heard Amber and Anita sing together I was like “Oh my gosh…”.
S: So you just knew. That’s awesome. And then how did KING form?
P: I was doing my own weekly residence in LA and every week would have different people come and sit in, but usually it was just me and some friends playing instrumental music. Then Amber came to visit and the three of us starting arranging music together and it was something really special- the sound had such a cool vibe, something really unique. Once the three of us sang together we kept it going and continued building from there. At that point, we were still just having fun- I don’t even think we had a name yet- but I remember Van Hunt being at one of the shows and insisting we really consider forming an official band. And we were like, ‘Ok!’
S: So then how did the name come about?
P: KING came kind of like a revelation- it was the first and only name that came to us, and mostly the strength of the word spoke to us. Since then, KING has grown to mean a lot. We all had our reasons for why it worked for us initially- we were making our own music, determined to tell our own story, and were building what felt like a musical kingdom from the songs we were writing. A few years down the road, still, I feel like the name is a reminder of what we do and what we’re here for.
S: I recently saw 20 ft. from Stardom and they talk a lot about how background singers aren’t used any more as well as other instrumentations, and you mentioned Paris having every instrument ever at home… Your current live set just consists of the 3 of you, would you consider expanding into other live instrumentation?
P: We’ve have had such a blast playing with friends and expanding the sound to include a live band before, but right now, we’re really enjoying the set with the three of us on stage. I think there’s something special conveyed as people are not only hearing the music as we’ve created it for the album, but visually pretty much seeing those creations in motion between the three of us. We’re interested and excited to do the live show in a million different ways, though!
S: So backed by 100 piece orchestra like LA PHIL at Hollywood Bowl wouldn’t bother you?
P: Definitely not! Let’s do KING at Carnegie Hall!
S: Ok, and back on the LA topic, any favorite eating spots for our readers?
Paris: Osteria Mozza.
Anita: Bottega Louie.
S: What are you guys listening to right now? Or being inspired by?
P: There’s a lot- off the top of my head my most recent playlist had Here We Go Magic, Empress Of, Cat Stevens, always Bill Evans, Ariel Pink, The High Llamas…
Amber: XTC, Bear in Heaven, Blonde Redhead, Paul McCartney, Janet Jackson and Pat Metheny
Anita: I’d say Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Owusu and Hannibal, and some Brenda Russell.