Interview by Miriam Cadoni
Despite each human being has to endure a bad period someday in its life, there will always be place for light and happiness. This is the main lesson that I’ve learned throughout the listening of Hey, King’s self titled full-length album, released via ANTI- Records. Indeed, Taylor and Natalie, the core members of the indie rock duo, with their voices and songs full of transparent and sincere feelings, they pave the path towards a better moment. Enjoy!
First of all, girls, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, how are you and how these precarious days are treating you?
Natalie & Taylor: Thank you so much for having us.
Taylor: Like COVID? I think for us, it’s started like a blessing. So, everything shut down and this event gave to me and Natalie the chance to stop for a moment. You know, we have been going so fast and hard for so long and spending together the quarantine gave us the chance to reset in a way I’ve never experienced before in my life.
Then, I’m also a nocturnal person and it was really fun to be up the whole night with nobody to answer to [laughs]. You know from 7 am to until the day starts again. Even though the situation we are in, especially in LA where the pandemic has hit really hard, luckily our families are healthy and safe. Unfortunately, both my brother and Natalie’s sister had COVID…
Natalie: In that regard, my sister is still struggling with the complications left this disease and it’s not simple.
Indeed. But in these strange times, what we have is the musicians I know that you girls, are quite a young indie rock duo. So, for our lovely readers, would you like to tell us how your musical adventure started?
Taylor: Well, we fell in love and she was already making music and then, simply she asked me to join. Actually, she was sick for a long time and the origin of Hey King! is just Natalie. Then, well, I listened to her material and I was like “This is dope!”.
Natalie: I’ve been loving music since forever and I considered that my life and career. Unfortunately, I got really sick while travelling because I was bitten by a tick and consequently, I ended up contracting Lyme’s disease. Due to this, for the next 4 years, I wasn’t able to walk or either write or read. I also lost quite a bunch of my memory and in truth, I didn’t know if I was able to play music once again.
However, as I was slowing starting to recover, I slowly began to creating music and Hey King!. Back in the day, I used to watch a lot of movies and in one of these, they kept shouting “Hey King”. I found it quite liberating and, in a way, it represented also that unbridled fury and passion. So, with the next step I founded the band and I started to publish some songs and play some live shows.
Fast-forwarding into a couple of years, me and Taylor met. At the time, she was just coming out from LA from Arizona because she was casted in a movie for a lead role. Also, she has this fantastic voice and she immediately started to play with us.
Taylor: Though, we started dating first and then, her band asked me to join Hey King!. But, before that, I wanted to establish this relationship because this girl is super fucking cool and if possibly, my favorite human being that I ever met [Natalie laughs]. Of course, this was something big for me because I love her and I’m really head over heels for her. You know, then not only the band kept asking me but also Natalie herself proposed this, and I understood that it was coming for a sincere place.
After her proposal, I felt immediately safe because if it was working out was cool and if not, it was fine anyway and I won’t lose my best friend and partner. But as soon as we started collaborating together, it was like magic because I never expected to be in a band with my love and my significant other.
You know, this added a special dimension to it and after, we played the first show together, we felt that something different which brings something out a completely side of me and it added something different in the music too. In the end, it magically fell out into place. And then, we started recording our début together.
About this, I know that your self-titled debut was just released a couple of days ago. So, I’ve been wondering to know when did you start to collect your first ideas and when did you realise that its final outcome was something quite homogeneous?
Natalie: I wanted this album to be called “Greatest Hits Part One” but the record label rejected the idea.
Taylor: Yeah [laughs]
Natalie: They said no to that and I was still thinking how to name it. However, some of the songs in “Hey Love!” were written a few years ago. Throughout this process, we have entirely re-worked the songs and turning them into duets. While, few others songs in it, we have written it after we have concluded our first tour which helped us in having more stories to tell. In the end, it ended up like this.
Taylor: In my opinion, our EP was very mellow and singer-songwriter-y with a folk-rock twist in it whereas our début full-length is much more representative of us as a band. Especially for a newcomer, it’s so weird thinking about releasing new material now during the pandemic. Considering the way in which we usually reached out to our audiences, so, by playing live even two times for week, that feels completely strange in not doing it now.
Natalie: Before the pandemic hit, we were the opener band for 3 legs of Ben Harper’s national tour. That was a blast, we miss travelling and we really really really really miss to play live.
Well, girls, we have just mentioned Ben Harper and I know that he was heavily involved Hey King!’s debut as a collaborator and producer. How was collaborating with him and what did you learn throughout this experience?
Natalie: It was amazing because he gave us so much artistic freedom. For example, when I’ve started to write “Half Alive” it was just guitar, French horn and bass. You know, the studio there was also this stuff and he just let me run around the studio like a crazy person for trying out everything that was lying in there.
I think, with my attitude I’ve also influenced him because Ben is a bit like me because he plays a lot of instruments. In the end, in that song I ended up playing the drums and him the piano. Essentially, working with him it felt like being in a playground. So, it was really fun and amazing to experience such freedom.
Taylor: He really took the time to listen to our material which was arranged by Natalie and anytime we had an idea, he was open to give it a try.
Natalie: For example, I remember having an improvised jam with a cello too. Also, we have learned a lot from him while we are together on tour. He’s really nice and thoughtful of him to take us all over his tour both in the States and Canada. When he’s on stage, he literally gives everything that he has to his audience.
Out of this amazing release, it was released your single “Beautiful”. Do you mind sharing some insights about that song?
Natalie: It’s funny. As the most basic aspect of this song, I think for people like whose brain never shot off and it constantly keep worrying and thinking, especially in this particular period. Everybody is thinking about the future with their jobs, the family’s health and how to get an income.
You know, in this constant worrying, the challenge is bringing yourself out of that which can be going on an adventure, going for a drive, be with someone you love or just laughing with someone you love. Once again, the real challenge is finding moments that allow us an escape.
Taylor: I think “Beautiful” is an appropriate song for this period. Even if it wasn’t written during this period of quarantine, listening back to it looks like it. Actually, this song comes from a place of uncertainty and it’s where the song arose from. Consequently, it deals with the issue of not knowing what the future holds.
Regardless of the fact of who you surround yourself with, in the end, it has to be with someone who can you love you and love you back too. For example, even if it’s a dog, a pet or a best friend or a family member, what really important to consider is no matter what it will happen in the future, it will be surely beautiful.
Natalie: It’s cheesy I know that but, in the bridge, there’s a verse where Taylor sings, that “No matter how dark it is, you don’t have to worry about”. In the end, we are all trying to going through this dramatic period and surving.
So, Natalie and Taylor, you have just mentioned about the EP that was previously released last year in August whose title is “Be Still”. Also, it was once again produced by Ben Harper. Considering all this, if compared to the self-titled début, which differences can you find between the EP and the other one? And, how do think that Hey Kings! has evolved in this span of time?
Nathalie: So, the original plan before the pandemic happened, it was to release it in full.
Taylor: But it really happened is that “Be Still” was published an appetizer or better ‘a cookie’ in order to offer extra information. As Nathalie said before, the album was supposed to release it as a full-length. Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, our label didn’t know exactly what to do.
Lastly, what came up as to strategize and just break it up in an EP which contained 4 songs were about to be featured in “Hey King!” too. Besides these materials, it was added an extra song and a cover. Though, the label has decided to pick 4 of our oldest tracks which is weird. [laughs].
Natalie: Because they didn’t know how everything evolved and also because what it’s on the EP are songs that were written not this year but the year before. Actually, it felt strange because the first single was the first song that I’ve ever written with Taylor.
Taylor: I feel that EP is just an introduction and they probably wanted to introduce us. And just then, let us release our full album.
So, you just mentioned that the EP has this amazing cover of The Animals’ classical hit “We Got Out of This Place” which I really love…
Taylor: Actually, back in January we were in Capital Studios recording it together with Eric Burden. It was a whole dream come true. When he picked up the microphone and sung the first note behind the booth, everyone, every single person from our manager to Ben Harper and our players who came with us, we felt simply mesmerized by his vocals.
Natalie: You know, when they asked which song we should cover, my mother used to sing that song before going to bed. We had a rough life and she was just assuring me and my brother that sooner or later our lives will improve. It was our theme song. And for those reasons, for me it’s one of the most important songs in the world.
Taylor: Our manager Elizabeth Freund asked us to write a letter to Eric Burdon and we kindly asked if we would be interested in sing with us that song. Indeed, in the letter we have explained why we did choose that song and why for us was important to receive his blessing in recording that song. Then, his wife came to one of our shows in Hollywood and she loved our performance to the point that she interceded for us in getting this collaboration started with Eric.
Natalie: And like magic, the day after we were already in the studio recording the cover. Subsequently what it’s happen is that ended up creating a medley because we realized we wanted to cover more songs from The Animals. Unfortunately, a lot was cut but we still have the original version. Among other songs there were also “The House of the Rising Sun” which he was performed in its entirety along with the trumpeter. It was crazy and awesome at the same time.
Additionally, there were few other more songs that I was mesmerized by such as “Half Alive”, “Lucky” and “Don’t Let Me Get Away”. Would you mind to share some insights about these songs?
Nathalie: I mean, “Lucky” is the only song with about me being and also, the only one where I speak in detail about it. When you are in that darkness and you have experienced trauma and pain, I feel like that the most important thing is one part of you is already gone through it and it’s already on the other side.
You know that allows to speak to your inner child. Essentially, it’s like having a conversation where I tell myself as a kid that everything will be all right, that I’ll survive and that you’ll find yourself in the future. Or you’ll find love at the end of this or just peace. Indeed, when I have these conversations with myself as a child, I like to think that I’ll always have those despite that I’ll go through in the future.
Taylor: “Lucky” comes from the necessity of some therapeutic writing. For example, discussing how it was the experience at the hospital knowing or not if you’ll make it out alive or not and just tell to your younger self that everything will be all right. As a song, “Lucky” is quite cathartic. While “Half Alive” is about sex and it comes with the rhythm of it.
Taylor: Actually, I wanted to call it “The Sex Song” but they didn’t allow me to do it.
Natalie: Indeed, it’s a good make out song. You know, you can just kind chill out on it and it’s the first song that we have composed together [both laughs]. Since it’s a single, we have also released a video and it was quite fun to shoot it, due to the pandemic a lot of things didn’t go through.
But we ended up with it’s something I’m super-proud of the final outcome. Actually, we started to shoot it in the early stages of this madness and everyone dropped out [laughs]. Also, it’s the first song that I’ve written for Taylor.
Nathalie: You know, she’s really fun in naming songs. So, “Half Alive” was supposed to be called “The Sex Song” and “Don’t Let Me Get Away” was “Abandonments Issues”. It’s so funny [both laughs].
Taylor: You know, we have been together for quite some time now and it’s quite normal once in a while to get into an argument. However, both our relationship backgrounds are quite complicated which includes for sure baggage, pain and what follows next.
Despite this, I always thought to express myself correctly through music and talking. However, I always felt that my past experiences were impeding me to expressing my true self and I find always difficult to explain that this has nothing to do with us.
Mostly, it’s related to my inner demons and darkness from the past. Also, it’s about being able to recognise that you’re wrong and apologize. Well, all this came out in “Don’t Let Me Get Away” and everything was finished in half an hour including the melody too
So, girls, this was my last question and actually, this is your space now. Please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you so much.
Nathalie & Taylor: First of all, thank you for having us and then, it’s so nice to be in contact with another human being because it was so long for us. And, we cannot wait to let our listeners let enjoy something made with so much love, so much excitement and energy.
It will be super-freaking awesome to finally let people listen to it, we cannot wait. Our hope is that listeners wills find some solace, humor, joy and inspiration in our music. We’re super excited for this album, we cannot wait!