ARTISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW: KING ISIS RELEASES DEBUT SINGLE SPARKLY OFF INTRODUCTORY THREE-PART EP SERIES
May 7, 2021
Do you recall the warm feeling you had the first time you heard a song, and you instantly knew it would be your favorite song? Even though it’s rare these days, sometimes I find myself introduced to artists that get me feeling excited and optimistic for some odd reason. I can’t explain it, but all I know is, I try to hold on to it as much as possible.
Today I’d like to introduce you to LA based artist, King Isis and I hope their music will leave you feeling like I did when I heard it for the first time. My introduction to King Isis was through their new single, “Sparkly”, which drops today off of the three-part introductory EP “The Sampler Series”. “Sparkly” is a song of hope, struggle, and becoming, exploring the duality of self through waves of a new love. With their 3-part introductory EP series, split by sounds + seasons, Isis challenges both the binaries of society and the boundaries of genre, traversing through different realms of reality in their music by rejecting the limitations of the status quo.
We caught up with King Isis to talk about their music and what the process creating the upcoming EP “The Sampler Series”.
Before we begin, I’d like to ask what are your preferred pronouns?
Thank you for asking. My pronouns are they/she.
Your upcoming EP is broken into three parts, I’d like to know the intention behind this, and what are the themes explored with each part of the project?
My music is all over the place…like me, haha. It’s hard for me to stick to one sound — how I process and understand myself, the world and my feelings, takes different forms and I want my music to reflect that. I decided to release my first set of EPs as a sampler series to show how I move through sound and how rejecting boundaries and embracing fluidity has helped me learn to be okay with all parts of me.
Overall, the sampler series explores a journey of mental health, duality, being at home in one’s difference, and accepting the freedom of fluidity. #1 is the beginning, finding oneself in a love that helps expands you, but also masking your own problems with it, concluding in a heartache that forces you to face your own demons. #2 is the rejection, purposely clouding your reality with substances, excuses, and distractions to avoid exploring your shadows. #3 is the beginning of the end, coming to terms with self, embracing your duality and your difference. It’s telling the story of a journey of being okay with yourself, flaws, and all. It’s finding yourself through different sounds and spaces. It’s about a part of a journey that never ends.
Your release is in June, which is International Pride Month. As a queer black artist, what are some of the fundamental changes would you like to see happen in the industry?
Yes, the EP officially drops on June 18th, right before Juneteenth! Excited to share my music in a month that celebrates our queer + black families and communities. Beautiful energy.
In a capitalist-driven society, we as consumers want more, faster, easier, cheaper — which can diminish the quality and integrity of the product — just to feed our hunger. To be a commercially “successful” musician in a world of commodities can sometimes cloud the intention of the art. Music has a legacy of being a tool to bring change, a way to recall history and a way of empowering individuals and communities. Music has given me the power to feel free, feel whole, find power in what has been historically and socially demonized and dehumanized, a celebration of my blackness, queerness; my difference, and yours. I think we need to push to allow artists to be the multifaceted, complex individuals that we all are, instead of trying to fit into the neatly packaged commodifiable boxes + brands.
Another thing I would like to see change is re-identifying our ideas of success and failure, and start to steer away from supporting numbers + followers, and start supporting creativity. This is definitely something I need to remind myself of in my own process and perspective. Social media is both a blessing and a curse; in the most utopic sense, it allows for artists and people to be seen + heard, express their opinions + find community, but at the same time, it can also be a very toxic mold for self-doubt, ego, loneliness and judgment to fester. Then you also have shadow banning and a corrupted algorithm that lead to censorship of queer, Black, trans, POC creators and their conversations. In some ways, we have progressed as a society, but in many ways, we continue to perpetuate the same traditions of racism, sexism, classism, and queerphobia that repress and harm our communities.
Your lead single, Sparkly is a multi-layered song, with beautiful melodies, and fast witty rap flows, and you navigate effortlessly back n forth. What was the process of creating this song and what was the influence?
First of all, thank you! I like to explore different parts of myself in my music through experimenting with different sounds and personas. I write most of my songs on the guitar, kind of making an acoustic template with just vocals and guitar. I think the song represents being in a euphoric state of experiencing a new love, but also falling back into reality and dealing with society’s demons as well as my own. I was attending college at a very wealthy, white institution and I think my frustration of navigating the racism and classism at this institution bleeds into the song. I was also listening to a lot of Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, and Noname at the time, who have all inspired me with their art.
What are your three solid rules that you don’t break as an artist?
Integrity to my art and sound. Not allowing what’s trending to affect who I am as an artist/person, adapting, but not sacrificing my authentic self. Not allowing money or lack thereof to stop me from creating. Keep pushing, and not giving a f*ck about how someone else thinks I should present or be.
Where can people find more about you?
Listen to Sparkly here.