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The L.A. Based Future R&B Trio, KING, Boast Some Very High Profile Fans

In Music
SOUL SISTERS: Paris and Amber Strother, together with Anita Bias are the buzzed

SOUL SISTERS: Paris and Amber Strother, together with Anita Bias are the buzzed

When Los Angeles-based R&B trio KING independently released their three-song The Story, the music blogosphere went crazy.

NPR Music called the arrangements of “Supernatural,” the EP’s second track, “celestial.” The collection’s closer, “Hey,” landed on Pitchfork’s perpetually updating “Best New Music” list and Kendrick Lamar sampled the track. Prince proclaimed his love of the group. It was clear that KING were going places—fast.

In reality, things didn’t go very fast. It took KING five years to follow up The Story. However, by most accounts it was worth the wait. The group’s meticulous full-length release, We Are KING, arrived to the delight and relief of their early—and patient—fans on Feb. 5.

KING consists of sisters Paris and Amber Strother and Anita Bias. Amber and Anita are the lead singers. And although all three of them write songs together, Paris is the sole producer of the album and grounds the band with her keyboard playing.

It’s a role she is happy to take on while leaving the singing to her sister and Bias. “The connection that the two of them shared was instant. I don’t know if I’ve heard two people sound like that together,” Paris says. “There are a lot of great singers but a lot of singers can’t fall directly into step with another singer like that unless they’ve had like many years of experience.”

Listening to We are KING in one sitting, it’s easy to drift into the sonic otherworld that the trio has created. And that was certainly the aim, Paris says.

“I think that creating the album, we really wanted to present a landscape—to make it almost a destination people could go to, to escape,” the keyboardist and producer says of her group’s debut full length. “Stevie Wonder’s albums do that for me.”

If you crossed Jill Scott’s first single from 2007 “A Long Walk” with the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love,” the result might sound something like We Are KING’s second track, “The Greatest.” KING shares some of Scott’s sunny uplift, while adding in oddly persuasive digital and synth overlays.

“We wanted to keep the songs as different as we could, having the common thread that led you from one song to another as in a journey was really important for us to convey,” Paris says.  They achieve this sound through Amber and Anita’s harmonies and Paris’s mastery of analog equipment.

Paris says she was drawn to using analog equipment because of “the warmth and the quality of sound” older modular synthesizers produce. “It gives such a different, classic vibe,” she says.

Indeed, KING have been compared to ’70s Motown greats, like Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright—artists who knew how to create tunes that were simultaneously uplifting, politically aware, boundary pushing and still catchy. To Paris’ mind, being able to do all of those things is the ultimate goal. “Your purpose as an artist is to create something that people can love and will make them feel great.”

King
Thursday, March 3
10pm
The Continental
Advance $15 / $10 SJZ Members/ Day of Show $20
Jazz Beyond

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