It is good to be King. The all-female R&B trio has received support and accolades from Prince, Erykah Badu and Questlove of the Roots. The threesome’s debut EP is out now, a full album is due out this winter, and Saturday, for its inaugural Canadian performance, the group opens up fo Laura Mvula at the Mod Club. We spoke to King’s Paris Strother.
Given that your debut EP is called The Story, I’ll ask the obvious question. What’s your story?
Well, Amber and I are twin sisters, and Anita is our close friend. We were hanging out together. The music came as a result of that. Generally, we all have a desire to put something positive into the world. Things started coming together, and our story began writing itself.
What about the title song on the EP, with lines about taking a trip to the land of the eternal sun? I imagine that has to do with you and your sister moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
Actually, the song has to do with Amber moving, and stepping into the unknown. Anita and I were living here in Los Angeles when Amber came to visit. On the strength of a few living room performances, Amber decided to move to L.A. So, the song represents her experiences, but it can be about anyone getting ready to take a journey.
Your music, particularly that song, is a little trippy. It’s not exactly pop. What are your motivations?
Our music is created in a vacuum. We like to stay relevant, but what else is happening in music is not something we measure ourselves by. But everybody has their own path with music. There’s room for everyone to exist.
We hear about Prince, a fellow Minneapolis musician, being a mentor to King. Is that a fair description of what he does for you, a mentor?
He’s our overall adviser. He’s an awesome resource, when it comes to any aspect of the music business. Any question we have about the industry or music itself, he’s available. So, sure, mentor is a good word.
Sounds like you have him on retainer.
[Laughs] I wouldn’t say that. But, yeah, he’s been a wonderful ally.
Can you shed some light on his mysterious tweeting? There seems to be some doubt as to whether it’s actually him behind his new Twitter account.
I think it is him tweeting. He announced it himself. I believe it.
So, there’s Prince, and I know you guys do a Stevie Wonder cover, All Day Sucker, off Songs in the Key of Life. Who are some of your other influences?
The list, off the top of my mind, would be Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Bill Evans and Duke Ellington. Also anything produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The whole Minneapolis R&B sound was a great influence. But it’s not just musical influences, it’s any kind of art. It’s all input for output.
Those musical heroes, they’re not exactly punks. Sounds like you’ve got some serious background to you.
I started playing piano at age two, and then took classical and jazz. I studied at the Berkeley School of Music. I met Anita at Berkeley. Amber is pretty much self-taught. This was a detour for her. She hadn’t planned this, so it’s really fun to watch her.
You do the producing. So, despite Prince’s help, is it fair to say that you’re steering the mothership, to use a word from one of your songs, yourselves?
We like to hope so. We’ve received some good feedback, and that affirms that we’re doing the right thing by being ourselves. Authenticity and being original and creative is our No. 1 priority.
King opens for Laura Mvula, Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m. $20. Mod Club, 722 College St., 416-588-4663 or ticketweb.ca