?uestlove and Prince Approved: King Has Come
KING Paris, Amber and Anita of KING
Imagine putting our a small collection of your songs with little fanfare and within a week having everyone from ?uestlove, Phonte, Talib Kweli and even Prince singing your praises? That's what happened to King, the Los Angeles musical trio of sisters Paris and Amber Strother and singer Anita Bias, whose 2011 EP arrived seemingly out of nowhere to international acclaim. Hot off the heels of their new single "Mister Chameleon," New York's about to get a double shot of King this Thursday, August 14th at Le Poisson Rouge and this Sunday, August 17th at Brooklyn's Kings Park as part of the MoCADA Soul of BK Festival. We spoke to King about establishing their kingdom seemingly overnight and the importance of being themselves.
You've mentioned in other interviews that the name King stems from having complete control over what you do. Has the meaning of that name changed for the three of you over the years?
Paris: I would say the meaning has changed. King was the only name that occurred to us because we knew what we were doing with all our stuff. We wanted to be the rulers of our own musical kingdom. But as time goes on and, even still now, the meaning of the word is still revealing itself to us. There's a lot of decisions you have to make and remind yourself why you named yourself King. It's what we wanted to be and what we needed to be as far as originality goes.
Paris and Amber, you're both sisters and have been your entire lives. How did you first meet Anita?
Paris: We first met really quick for like five seconds at Berkley. It was actually a rehearsal for a mutual friend of ours who had asked both of us to play. I remember when I asked her to sing alone, I stopped everybody and asked her to sing again because it really spoke to me. It was a year or two later when I moved to Los Angeles that we started hanging out and music was born from our hanging out. Amber was here for a visit, and that was the start of everything.
What was the inspiration for your new single "Mister Chameleon?"
Amber: I guess it comes from experiences that we all have in life with people that change a lot.
Anita: Can't quite put a finger on them.
Amber: Right! We all go through experiences whether a love, a friend, communication isn't always there and you can't tell where they're coming from. We wanted to tell that story and kind of keep it fun and light because everybody changes. It was fun to talk about it from our perspective, saying "It's cool you're changing, but we can't be around for that."
You released a live performance of "Mister Chameleon" before you put out the official single version, which is pretty sonically different. Do you find it a challenge to recreate the feeling of playing live in the studio, or are those entirely different entities?
Paris: I feel like they're almost a different animal. With recording, we spend a lot of time meticulously going over it and making sure the song speaks to the instruments we're using. With that [live] video in particular we had different keyboards and vocals and it made it organic in a different way.
Not including your recent collaborations, "Mister Chameleon's" the first King track we've heard since 2013's "In the Meantime." Were both tracks from the same sessions?
Anita: The recording of the album actually spans from about the EP until maybe a year ago, so they've all kind of been in the same family and we've been working on all the songs at the same time.
With the time you've spent working on this new album, which was announced in 2013, has much changed about it in the past year?
Paris: Yeah, we've actually added a few more songs to it to really give people a full picture of who we are. We're really excited to give people the full scope of what we do.