Photo: Shervin Lainez
Photo: Shervin Lainez

“Scary” Talented Artist Emily King Hits DC

It’s been a year since the release of Emily King’s latest album, The Switch, and apparently the record was so dope, she’s running it back. A deluxe re-release is set to hit both physical and digital music shops today, featuring three new tracks and a few demos of existing songs.

Growing up in New York City, King draws inspiration from the faces of various individuals traversing the concrete jungle of the Northeast metropolis. Her music reflects these drastically different walks of life, as songs bounce from rapidly cheery to methodical and dramatic while spanning the entire scope of the R&B genre. All of these climactic turns are heavily prevalent in her second studio release.

Fans in the DMV have a chance to celebrate the release, as King is set to serenade the 9:30 Club on Saturday night. Before her descent into the nation’s capital, On Tap was able to speak with the Grammy-nominated artist about lost tracks, synth and horror flicks.

On Tap: You didn’t record a full-length album for nine years, from 2006 to 2015. How many unheard songs do you have scribbled in various notebooks?
Emily King:
I would say upwards of 100. It’s endless with the voice memos, because it’s so easy to record ideas. I often fall in love with demos, because it’s the first impression of the song. [With The Switch] ones in particular, I felt I enjoyed [them] start to finish so much that I thought, “Why not release them?”

OT: Will we ever hear those unheard tracks?
EK:
Unless I put them in my will, it’s probably not possible. I prefer people only hear what I think is good enough. There are certainly a lot of bad ideas you have to sift through before you get to the good ones.

OT: With that being said, are you working on new material now?
EK:
I’m actually really excited to work on a new album, and I’ve been working on demo after demo and am planning to record it differently. Usually I sculpt songs at home and send them to my producer, but this time I’d like to do it in a secluded studio or out in the woods somewhere before I flesh it out in a different place.

OT: So like a Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago sort of thing?
EK:
Yeah, I think it’s helpful to be isolated. I think artists pull a lot from nature and silence. The energy is different there. I grew up in New York and I know what it’s like to have to have people on top of you. It’s a total shift of energy when you go somewhere like the woods. It’s a shift of focus, plus I like camping and hiking.

OT: Do you often use your surroundings as inspiration?
EK:
I think the Village in New York City [sticks out] – being surrounded by so many walks of life and all the growing pains I’ve experienced walking around the streets of New York. Inspiration-wise, my parents are some of my biggest influences. I totally mimic everything they do, and I’ve learned how to tell a story while singing a song, rather than just singing. Michael Jackson is also a big influence.

OT: Since Prince’s passing, I’ve been listening to a ton of his music. Some of your quicker songs remind me of him as well.
EK:
Thanks for noticing. Growing up, I was more into Michael Jackson, but over the past few years I’ve become more aware of Prince. I’ve always known he was one of the greatest artist of our time, but to be honest, some of the synth sounds weren’t really my thing. I didn’t really like the sound palette of the 80s.

OT: If you could make a concept album, what would you do?
EK:
I just love scary movies. I love haunted houses. I love being scared in that way. Not all types of scared – more ghostly, grave types of scared, so it would probably be something along those lines. With vampires. There is something about a great groove that’s kind of scary, too.

OT: What horror movie have you been geeking out on lately?
EK:
I’ve been watching some recently. It Follows sticks out to me.

OT: Doesn’t that movie have a ton of synth music?
EK:
I’ve synthed myself to the point that I started liking it. When something is liked by everyone else, then I force myself to understand it.

OT: So, basically, fans can expect an all-synth album from you in the future?
EK:
Exactly. Look out Daft Punk, I’m comin’ for you. Or I’ll start directing horror films.

Catch Emily King’s performance on Saturday, July 9. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $25.

9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW DC; 202-265-0930; www.930.com

Photo: Shervin Lainez