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King Isis: “Music has saved me from dark places in my life”

25 April, 2024

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Hailing from Los Angeles, California, King Isis graciously shares insights into their creative process, inspirations, and the transformative power of music. We explore King Isis' songwriting journey, touching on themes of shadow work, vulnerability, and spiritual exploration. As they prepare to take the stage at London Calling Festival, King Isis gives us a glimpse into their hopes of providing listeners with a sense of release and safety through their music.

On inspiration, shadow work and spirituality

First of all, congratulations on your new EP ‘Shed’. What has inspired the themes and emotions presented in your latest music?
I think especially on ‘Shed’ the songs are really personal and more vulnerable, and speak about processing trauma. As someone who's naturally introverted and shy, putting my personal stories into music has definitely been an emotional process for me. Additionally, reading a book about shadow work, called Borderlands, has been a continuing source of inspiration.

Would you say spirituality is a big part of your songwriting and everyday life?

Music and spirituality are both a big part of my everyday life, but I think in my songwriting it’s gained more of a presence, talking about places of discomfort and places of repression for me. Spirituality was actually one of those places: I had to repair my relationship with spirituality, learning and unlearning the different ideas about what it means to be a spiritual person. I definitely talk about that more on ‘Shed’, especially on ‘Monki’ and ‘333’.

Has creating this EP been therapeutic to you in a sense?

Definitely. I think that music has always been a safe space for me, where I feel that I can just be whoever I am. There’s no judgement, it’s just me and my guitar and my notebook. I feel like I can express myself most freely in music, so it’s been very therapeutic for sure.

King Isis

King Isis


The power of music in community healing

Given your introverted nature, what does it feel like for you to be on stage? Does performing in front of an audience interfere with that safe space?
Writing the music is more of a safe space for me than actually performing songs. I do enjoy it, but it’s a thing I had to learn to be less afraid of and be more vulnerable in. I feel like when I’m performing, I do feel comfortable, when I’m actually singing the songs. Once I realise I’m on stage, I do tend to get into my head a little.

So how exactly did your career in music come about?

I grew up surrounded by music and it has always been my passion, but it wasn't until college that I fully embraced it as a career path. I initially went to college thinking I wanted to become a lawyer, which just wasn’t going to happen for me. First of all, I can hardly speak, even right now, during this interview. So speaking for a defendant; actually having to defend somebody, that wouldn’t work. But I do truly care about people and I think that music has a really big part in healing both self and communities.

In what way have you experienced music contributing to these things?

As a teacher, my mom always incorporated music into her curriculum. Witnessing how music brought her classroom together and helped students retain information, specifically when it was taught through song, made me see how powerful music really was. Also during my time volunteering at Riker’s Island, where I taught music classes to the younger people there, I noticed that giving them access to creativity and a way to express themselves in a healthy and healing way, was something that, for a short period of time, brought them out of being on Riker’s.

King Isis

King Isis


"Music has saved me from dark places in my life"

What effect did the healing qualities of music have on you personally?
Other people’s music, and the act of playing, writing and creating music, has saved me from dark places in my life - and in my mind. I didn’t grow up rich, raised by a single mother in Oakland, which is now gentrified, but at that time was not a particularly safe place to be. People were dying on my block every week, and I think that having music was something that made me feel safe. So for me, bringing that to other people, that have a similar experience, is really important.

What else would you like for your audience to experience during your upcoming show at London Calling?

I hope that through the songs that I’m playing, which delve into themes of processing rage, trauma, and healing, they will feel a sense of release, and letting it all out with me, in the shared experience of the performance.

On Saturday, May 18, 2024 King Isis will perform a show during London Calling Festival at Paradiso.

Text: Yvonne den Outer