King is the title given to a male monarch.
But the Queens of KING said nah. They're taking the title crown.
The musical trio—comprised of Anita Bias and twins Paris and Amber Strother, released their debut EP in 2011. It was called The Story, but it was only the beginning of theirs. Immediately, the industry took notice. Prince and ?uestlove praised their magic. (When Prince first heard their debut album, he said: “Don’t change a thing.”) Kendrick Lamar sampled "Hey," one of the three songs on the EP, for Section.80 track "Chapter Six."
In February of 2016, after what felt like decades of waiting, the women released the full-length We Are King. The album was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 59th Grammy Awards, making them the first independent artists to be nominated in that category.
Like we said, freakin' royalty.
More from KING below.
Where do your drive and passion come from?
Paris: All of us are lifelong lovers of music- there’s something so touching about being able to communicate in this universal language. It’s been incredible to reach and inspire people by expressing our emotions through sound, and it’s that connection that keeps us going.
What's behind the name?
Anita: When we were first starting out, it was just the three of us independently creating this landscape of sound. The word KING was like a revelation- it was the first and only name that came to us. It reflected that we were kings of our own musical kingdom, and the name gave us the space to tell our own story.
We are kings of our own musical kingdom.
It took five years between the EP release and the debut album. What was going on during that time?
In hindsight, I can now say we were growing up and growing into being KING. Those five years saw us not only finding our sound and creating the album but learning tons about the business side of music. We’re so grateful we had the opportunity to take our time to learn more about ourselves and create an album that we were proud of.
Prince, Erykah Badu, Solange. KING has worked with some of the most amazing artists. Is that empowering?
Amber: It’s incredible when people you’ve always looked up to recognize something in your music also.
You've said that you'll never compromise the music for any reason. So when you run into a career obstacle or a roadblock, what drives you forward?
Amber: Knowing that the music is special to our fans, friends, and family keeps us going. There will always be obstacles, it’s just important to remember why you were drawn to making music in the first place.
Paris, you also produce for the group. There aren't many female producers in the music world. How are you changing the game?
Paris: I’d love to break down barriers that any woman feels when it comes to following your art. One of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid was a fellow musician telling me that by just being who we are, we gave so many others permission to do the same.
Do you think it's surprising to people (or male producers specifically) that you're producing?
Paris: I think some people are surprised that it’s produced by a woman, I think some people are surprised that all the music so far has been produced in entirety by just one person. It’s an incredible time though, and super inspiring to see so many other women making great music. It’s becoming less of an anomaly.
We hear the words "male-dominated" so much that it's almost like white noise. And yet, almost all industries are dominated by men. What shift have you seen in the music industry that's exciting and/or empowering for you as women?
Anita: It’s a great time to be an independent artist. It’s so cool to see the way that women are able to create communities in the internet age- now it’s easier than ever before to connect with people who love and appreciate your art and vice versa.
IYO-- How can we stay original when we are so saturated with other people's work?
Amber: It’s all about finding balance, and knowing when to put your blinders on. It’s important to immerse yourself in others work- let all the art around you inspire you, and never forget the perspective you bring to the table. Hone in on your own originality.
What about your career makes you (each respectively,) feel the most complete?
Amber: Doing what I love with the people I love.
Anita: The ability to touch people that you’ve never met.
Paris: It’s incredible to watch something grow from just your imagination to being a fully- fleshed out piece of art
At what point in your career did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?
Paris: The support we received from so many people on the day we released our first project in 2011 will stay with us forever. Hearing from so many new fans and artists we admire gave us the spark to know we were on the right track, and that it was moving people the same way it moved us. That experience made us confident that we had something special with KING.
What's the best advice you've ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?
Anita: When Prince first heard our debut album, he said: “Don’t change a thing.” It was something we kept with us throughout the creation and release and gave us the backbone to know that even if nobody else had our backs, he thought it was perfect.
What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?
Amber: Any song by Stevie Wonder.
Photo Credit: @davisfactor