For KING, patience is a virtue
L.A. soul trio straddles tradition, futurism
In the world of modern music, patience is a lost art. Fickle fans, buzz-hungry media, and a profit-starved industry put pressure on artists to write more, record hastily, and release music at a much faster pace. But the Los Angeles-based trio KING doesn't play by these rules. In 2011, the group released its three-song EP, The Story, and the music's sparkling, futuristic soul inflections amassed an enchanted following.
The EP's three songs, "The Story," "Supernatural," and "Hey," were a small taste of what sisters Paris and Amber Strother and close friend Anita Bias were capable of pulling off.
KING's members were aware of the anticipation, Paris says. But all three refused to let it distract them from recording (and perfecting) their debut album. "Other people might bring it up every once in awhile, but for us it was like, 'Ok ... And?'" Paris says. "The music has to be done the way it's supposed to be done. There was no question of whether we should rush to put something out prematurely."
For five years, Bias and the Strothers worked intensely on the songs that make up We are KING, released Feb. 5 on the group's own label, KING Creative. But they also took the time they needed to grow as women and as artists.
"We were getting to know ourselves better," Paris says. "Now we can look back on that period of time as kind of giving ourselves an artist development deal, where we really took the time to make sure we were coming out as we wanted to come out."
Mission accomplished. We are KING is one of the most singularly immersive album experiences in recent memory. Listening to it is like being dropped into an alternate world where lush electro-soul arrangements stretch to the horizon and billowing harmonies streak across the sky.
Songs such as "The Right One" and "In the Meantime" sound shipped in from a narcotic dream. "Red Eye" sets slinky, traditional R&B against spacey synths.
The three songs from The Story EP are reprised here in extended form, and the jaw-dropping closer "Native Land" ascends with heavenly vocals, textures, and tones.
We are KING earned rave reviews everywhere from the New York Times to indie-focused Pitchfork. Paris credits the album's wide appeal to its "authenticity and creativity," qualities shaped by the bonds of trust within the band. "We all support each other in our decisions, and ultimately we kept instilling in each other faith that the three songs (from the EP) were so strong that people would wait for the product that we wanted to put out," she says.
One antidote to dwindling patience? Quality. KING radiates exactly that.