The goddesses of KING come to Tips Thursday night to promote thier highly acclaimed, debut album We are KING
The humble origins of rising R&B supergroup KING begin in Minnesota, where sisters Paris and Amber Strother were born into a family of musical talent. While the girls were growing up, their father and uncle held jam sessions in their childhood home, which Paris says was littered with her dad’s various instruments and vinyl records of family favorites including Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, and Bobby Brown. “My parents were both big music lovers,” Paris Strother says. “My dad always played new records and both of my parents were into really good music in the '80s and '90s when we were growing up. Amber and I were definitely influenced by their musical taste too. Bob James was my favorite record I found in my dad’s vinyl stash.”
KING will play Tipitina's tonight, and when the girls were two, Paris and Amber joined seven of their cousins in taking piano lessons. Both had promising musical talent, but only Paris pursued a career in music. While her twin found success back in Minnesota as a nail technician, Paris graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production: “I went to Berklee wanting to become a jazz pianist but getting there, immediately you learn about all these different music professions that aren’t just being a performer. I learned about tools and actual practical knowledge about using software and how to build soundscapes and other really great things that are outside the boundaries of just being a good musician.”
After college, Paris recorded her own fusion material and performed with various bands. A year after graduating, she ended up in California where one night after a show she ran into fellow Berklee alum Anita Bias, who she invited over for a jam session: “She came to my house and we played around on the keyboard and guitar, showing each other ideas. I showed her some of the stuff Amber and me worked on back in Minnesota. Anita and I built a friendship, and when Amber came to visit they got along really well. Their voices together were so special, so we just kept it going” And lo, KING was born.
The trio have since opened for the late Prince, had their "Hey" sampled on Kendrick Lamar’s "Chapter Six" and have gained such high profile fans as Stevie Wonder and Questlove. KING’s success lies in their musical autonomy: together, the women write, produce, and record on their own label, which results in a refreshing sound that blends new wave, soul and R&B. Paris credits their originality to the tastes and experiences of each woman: “Anita loves soul music," she says. "Amber is into a lot of jazz and contemporary style and I like classical and film scores. We pretty much like the stuff that everyone else, likes but I think it's what we listen to on our own that brings the texture and variety to our sound.”
It took five years to complete their highly acclaimed debut album We are KING. When the group wasn’t together, they would collaborate and share ideas from afar via FaceTime, text, or email, which created a very layered songwriting process. “We were relentless in making this album," Strother says. "We wanted it to be everything we wanted it to be. We didn’t want to miss anything. We didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. We shared every idea that came to us, and we’re really proud of the way the album turned out. It’s everything we wanted it to be. It feels like a magical thing to hear what we’ve always wanted to hear.”