Twins Paris and Amber Strother and musical sister Anita Bias are KING.
In 2011 KING independently released their first EP to much acclaim; title track “The Story”, “Supernatural”, and “Hey” make up the 3-piece introduction to their carefully crafted dream-soul sound. Hours after the release, their EP had traveled far to music lovers and tastemakers alike, making new fans of many.
KING’s eclectic sound is relatable yet not simply defined. Though they play with the boundaries of their many influences, throughout each song is the common thread of a certain soulful authenticity. The smooth vibe, intricate production, and harmonic style of their music evolved beautifully in their home studio, a product solely of the three women and a result of their Minneapolis and Los Angeles roots. (via weareking.com)
Tell us about your start and how the group as we know it came together?
Anita: The start of KING was really us hanging out as sisters and friends- whenever we were together, we’d always be writing and playing and sharing music. It came very naturally, and the songs we were writing were initially for ourselves and our friends and family. After realizing it was something special we decided to record the music and officially become a band.
Who were some of the group’s influences?
Amber: Jimi Jam and Terri Lewis, Prince, and Teddy Riley
Anita: Brenda Russell, Patrice Rushen, and Babyface
Paris: Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and Joni Mitchell
What’s the significance of the name KING?
Anita: KING was like a revelation – it was the first and only name that came to us. We were determined to tell our own .
Paris: We wanted a name that represented our unity. As an independent group, it felt like we were creating our own musical kingdom, so KING was appropriate. Since it’s a nontraditional word for a woman, it challenges the notion of what you think about when you think about who’s in charge.
What was the reaction like on your end when 2011’s 3 song EP began to pick up a buzz and get co-signs from major artists like Erykah Badu?
Paris: It was an incredible feeling- we were excited and extremely moved that the people who we were inspired by were likewise inspired by the music.
Amber: It was amazing, it was overall very encouraging and pushed us to keep going.
Anita: The love was unbelievable. I think it assured us that we’re doing something special, and to keep making music.
How does the creative process go for the group as far as song ideas, production, etc.?
Amber: It’s truly a collaborative process- we all contribute ideas, and each song develops in it’s own way. Paris does all of the music and production, Anita and I are the primary singers, and we all write together. Some songs start with chord changes, some with a melody, some with drums, but they all are built by layering and intertwining our ideas together.
What can you tell us about your debut full length album, We Are KING?
Paris: We Are KING is our mission statement, it feels like the full picture of who we are. It’s a true introduction to our sound – we spent time getting to know each other and ourselves to be able to dig deeper and explore different themes sonically. We had so much fun making the music and want people to hear that in the songs.
You all were just here in Chicago to play a fundraiser for the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools. As far as music and art being steadily cut from school funding how important is it that we find ways to keep music and art available for students?
Paris: It’s not just important, it’s necessary. We feel so lucky to have grown up at a time when it was required for everyone to explore and learn an instrument- it adds so much to a person’s character and development. Whether or not someone wants to pursue music professionally, music education can enrich a person’s life in so many ways.
What do you love about or love to do most when in Chicago?
Paris: I’ve always loved Chicago, we visited often when we were kids with our family. The water tower district is probably my favorite place to visit in Chicago.
Amber: I love the people, and the city itself is beautiful. My favorite things to do in Chicago are driving along Lake Shore Drive, or hanging out in Hyde and Lincoln Parks.
Anita: Chicago is a great city to sight see. The skyline is beautiful at night and driving along the lake is always fun.
You all have your own label, KING Creative, and are independent much like Chicago’s own Chance The Rapper. Do you think indie is the way of the future?
Paris: The internet has made a way for artists to connect directly with fans and supporters, and I think we’ll see more artists sharing their music with the world freely and openly as an alternative to depending on the major label engine.
In your opinion, what’s the best and not so best advantage of being independent?
Paris: It’s amazing to see the music all the way through with our own vision, and it’s been a cool experience to be able to steer the ship and create our own narrative. Independence comes with it’s own set of challenges – it’s necessary to reach outside of the musical standpoint and learn all different aspects about the business- but that only helps bring artistry to the next level.
So far who has given you the best advice and what was it?
Anita: The best advice has been from Prince. He constantly reminded us to find the strength in who we are and to not change ourselves, our style or our sound for anyone.
What’s next for KING?
Amber: We’ll be touring pretty extensively over the next few months until the end of the year, we’re so excited to get out there and play the album songs for our fans and friends worldwide.
KING’s debut album, We Are KING, is out now. The group is touring extensively around the country with additional dates in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. For more information on the group please visit www.weareking.com