photo courtesy of KING
KING’s origin story is standard enough. All three members of the group grew up surrounded by music and found each other after moving to Los Angeles (twins Amber and Paris Strother from their hometown of Minneapolis, Anita Bias from Los Angeles). But that’s where the standard part of their story ends. KING isn't like every other band because KING was influenced by The Purple One...Prince. About a week after releasing their first EP, The Story, Prince’s manager emailed them out of the blue. As it happened Prince had loved their sound so much, that not only did he want to meet them, he wanted them to open for him and wanted to help them with their album. We sat down with KING to talk about their mentor, musical idol, and ultimate inspiration, Prince.
You didn’t start working on your latest album, We Are King, until after you met Prince. How did he influence the album?
Amber: I feel like he is pop music. So I don’t know, sometimes you think because he was thinking so much from his heart, anybody who does anything from the heart, you could probably find some trace back to Prince.
Anita: He was always encouraging us to stay ourselves, listening to ourselves, let the music speak. He was such a fan of the music, and that in itself was kind of reassuring to us that we were on the right path. And he was one of the first people that we showed the album to, and he was like “It’s perfect, don’t change a thing.”
When it came time to release the album, what was his role in it?
Paris: The whole while over those years he was supportive, like “Hey how’s it going?” so he heard so many editions of it before it was released. I know he was really happy once the final album came out. He was instrumental, like he would call us about the artwork and talk about “What does this mean to you?” and how the artwork always means something. So it was really cool to be able to show him the record and show him what we envisioned for the cover and for the song order, because he was really big on song order.
And Amber and Paris, how did coming from Minneapolis inspire your music?
Amber: The Minneapolis sound, I feel like, it was a big part of our growing up. Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis…
Paris: …Sounds of Blackness, Mint Condition, Alexander O’Neal, and of course all the Janet Jackson stuff that Jimmy and Terry produced. There’s such a wealth of music coming from here.
Prince was clearly instrumental to you, both in your personal lives and in your careers, but what does he mean to you?
Amber: I feel like if you’re fortunate enough to do what you love; if you have someone caring about what you love, for whatever reason, mother, cousin, idol, if they tell you they love you for who you are and don’t change, it’s not even like a celebrity could do that for what it does, before I start to cry… Minneapolis is sorry, the world is sorry, the universe is probably happy. He’s such a— I feel like, he’s such a universal gift. Like the world got to experience him.
Paris: We feel fortunate to have even been on this earth at the same time; but to have him actually lend us a hand and make himself available to us in all of the ways that he did, we’ll never forget that— to really give us the confidence and the means to get this started.