It’s Good to Be Kings
This country-folk band is only just getting started with their EP Bones.
Introducing you all to the groovy country-folk band Kings. Their EP Bones consists of five tightly harmonized tracks that are a preview of what this band has to offer. The influences of country greats Johnny Cash, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, and Bonnie Raitt, are evident in these tracks. Band members Emily Bielagus and Steph Bishop together with their band deliver us to the NYC country-folk scene with style.
“Western Sky” begins the journey and is a prime example of harmonies that are tight and work to compliment the instrumentals and lyrics. It’s a slightly broody track, which has a distinctly different sound to the up-tempo “Wake Up Scared.”
Personal favorite “Carry Me Home” has a melody that takes me back to my own childhood listening to Charlie Pride and other country singers from my Dad’s vinyl collection—there is something pleasantly familiar to it. With plans to head back to the studio this March to record a full-length album and a tour in the works, Kings are making a positive mark on the country-folk scene in NYC and beyond.
Recently I had a brief email chat with Emily and Steph, here’s what they had to say:
Tell Curve readers more about the country-folk scene in NYC and where you see this developing in the future?
E: There’s definitely been a resurgence in popularity of country-folk music in the US in general, and certainly country-folk has always had a place here in NYC. There really is EVERY kind of scene happening in NYC, all the time, and so finding your community and finding your niche within that community can be hard. What’s cool is that the queer country-folk scene here has really opened its arms to us and allowed us to grow and mature as a band with the support of some really bad-ass local bands.
Your EP Bones is a great meld of harmonies and lyrics –I definitely want more, what are your plans for a full length album?
S: Thanks! Our songwriting, arranging, and live sound have evolved in lots of ways since Bones, and we have a slew of new material to record. Our goal is to get back into the studio in March to lay down a full-length album. We recorded Bones in a great little studio in Brooklyn, but we’re looking to get out of the city for this one - somewhere quiet and a little rough around the edges.
I’m Australian based, are there any plans for Kings to tour in 2015 in the U.S. and of course in Australia?
E: We’re in the midst of planning a summer tour—exact dates and locations to be announced soon! We have no set plans for Australia yet, but we’d love to go!!! Honestly at this point we will literally play our music anywhere in the world if people want to hear it.
How does the songwriting process work for you as a band? Do you write together or bring each other ideas then workshop them through etc.?
S: We write in lots of different combinations. Sometimes Emily or I will come to rehearsal with a complete or nearly complete song and all it will need is some arranging (i.e. “October” by Emily, “Wake Up Scared” by Steph). Other times one of us will come with a verse or a chorus that we love and we’ll both work on fleshing out the rest of the song. And then there are songs like “I Got Stuck” and “Wolf at the Door,” which were written collaboratively, almost start to finish, during a single rehearsal.
The country-folk genre is very distinct and not something I envisage when I think of NYC. What drew you to that sound and what continues to inspire you?
S: I grew up in Upstate New York listening to the music my parents and grandparents listened to: Johnny Cash, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, The Eagles, Loretta Lynn. The country-folk genre has always felt like home to me, and I continue to be inspired by more modern artists like Hurray for the Riff Raff, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Anais Mitchell, who have helped the genre flex and grow.
Emily, I have seen that you attended college where there was a prestigious conservatorium. I too attended a conservatorium and understand your comments in respect of becoming overly self-conscious. In putting down your guitar for that period of time. Do you think that allowed you more of a chance to return to music on your terms and potentially give you the freedom to create the sound that you have now with Kings? If so, how has this helped you?
E: I do think that in a lot of ways it was helpful for me to put down my guitar in college. I was in a women’s a capella group (called Nothing But Treble…LOL!) and more than anything, because of that I was able to refine my singing and performing skills, particularly in regards to singing and performing as part of a group. I learned how to harmonize and blend with other singers, and I learned that the voice really is an instrument, capable of filling the space just as any other instrument can. The band makes fun of me because I’m constantly trying to turn every song into an a capella arrangement, but I am just truly SUCH a sucker for a group of voices singing together, with or without instruments to back it up. So in that way I think it was useful for me, but there are DEFINITELY times when I wish I could take back those 4 years of lost guitar practice! Another good thing about putting the guitar down was how great it felt to pick it back up again. Like coming home after a long vacation. Or like two long-lost lovers getting back together - ‘I’ll never leave you again!’ LOL!
Steph, I’ve read that you have a day job as a gym teacher. Tell me how it works for you, juggling your day job with your music?
S: There are definitely days when I wish I had more time to work on music, but having a set schedule also helps me to appreciate and utilize the windows of time when I’m able to focus on writing songs, rehearsing, or performing. Sometimes those windows are tiny, but I try to find ways to fit them into my everyday life—I’ve written songs on my lunch break and while riding the subway.
To hear more from the band Kings, go to http://kingskingskings.bandcamp.com