Prince’s Former Protégés KING Are Getting Ready for Afropunk
There’s something about the name of KING automatically makes you think of power.
Twins Paris and Amber Strother and Anita Bias, who they refer to as their musical sister, form the R&B group KING and they’re creating waves within the music world.
Still fresh to the game, KING earned their first ever Grammy nom this year for their independent, self produced debut album We Are KING, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. Their smooth, eclectic, and soulful sound has caught the ears of the industry’s big hitters — Solange, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, and one of the greatest of all time, Prince, who became a mentor for them.
Not showing any signs of slowing down, the group will be hitting the tour scene this year and will be hitting the stage at 2017’s AFROPUNK Fest.
What was it like having your debut album nominated for a Grammy and being the only independent, self-released act nominated?
It was an incredible feeling to be nominated. Having the recognition of the Recording Academy meant a lot to us, and it was an honor to be in the company of all the great artists in our category. It was a huge moment for us as independent artists, and making history as the only self-produced and self-released artists in our category was such a special feeling.
So, I hear a lot of mix reviews from other artists about being independent vs. being on a major label. What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you have plans of eventually signing or you happy with the way things are now?
We knew that when looking at this project and the way it was created, it was important to maintain creative control and to make it exactly the way we wanted it to sound. We’re always open to working with the best people who can push forward a project. For this last album, KING Creative was the best label fit.
How did it feel to receive so much love from musical icons such as Prince, Solange, Questlove, and Erykah Badu; and so many acclaims from the media? What was it like being discovered by Prince and him being your mentor?
It was amazing to be recognized by people that we’ve looked up to and respect so much musically. Prince was an amazing supporter — he gave great advice and really encouraged us to maintain our creative integrity. His message for us revolved around being able to stay authentic and creative.
We’ve always been inspired by animated art and love how boundless graphic arts can be. The music seemed limitless — we wanted the visuals to match what we were imagining while writing the album.
What are some of your musical influences?
We’re influenced by a ton of music, ranging from jazz standards, classical pieces and showtunes to R&B, synthwave and video game soundtracks. Some of the people we’re most inspired by include Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney and Patrice Rushen.
What are you ladies currently working on now — new album?
We’re always working on more music!
Being that you’re touring this year, what cities are you most excited to play in? What would be the ultimate venue or stadium to play at?
Really excited to get back to Brooklyn and North Carolina and to see Arizona for the first time. We’d love to someday play the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.
So, I’m excited to here that KING is officially apart of this year’s lineup for the AFROPUNK Festival. What kind of set up do you guys have plan for the show and who are you most excited to see perform?
The entire lineup is great this year, in particular we’d love to catch Solange, Sampha and Soul II Soul.
So, where do you hope to see the group in the future?
We’d love to continue making the music we love together on our own terms.
Photography by Alex King