Playing with modern heavyweights like Esperanza Spalding and Jamire Williams says a lot about what Corey King‘s peers think of his skill. Whether he’s sharing lead duties with Takuya Kuroda or playing as part of large ensemble, King’s musicality is always an integral part of the sound of every group he plays with. This is even more true with regard to his debut record, Lashes, which came out earlier this month.
Though you wouldn’t know it if you only listened to his work as a sideman, King’s talent extends far beyond his skill as an instrumentalist. He is as talented a songwriter as he is a player. Maybe it’s his the wide variety of music he finds himself performing or maybe it’s a result of his life long love of music. Wherever it comes from, the music he creates is truly one of a kind and we are really glad he is making it. We talked to Corey King about his musical background and the inspiration for the album alongside many other topics. Check it out below with a stream of Lashes immediately following.
Revive: What inspired you to pursue your path as a musician? It must have been a pretty early decision; you went to the High School for Performing and Visual Arts which is really known for having a strong artistic vision.
Corey King: Right on. Since I can remember I sang as a kid when I was little. My grandfather always had music at the crib and my mom, she’s a singer, too, so the music is always around. I was too little to play an instrument, so I would always sing along to records and all this kind of stuff, and this kind of led to, you know… After a while I wanted to learn how to read music, because somehow I knew that if I wanted to do this long term I would have to read music, so that’s when I went into school and I started playing trombone and stuff like that.
R: Listening to your work as a sideman, obviously you put in a lot of work on your instrument, but listening tot he record, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of songwriting, too. Have you been writing a very long time?
CK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, man. Writing music, period, yeah I’ve been writing for quite a while.
R: What about songwriting? It’s one thing to write an instrumental, but these are songs. How long has that been going on?
CK: Yeah, yeah man. I wrote songs a lot when I was a kid. You know, me and my cousins we would (laughs), we’d have little bands and shit when we’d meet up and my uncle’s house. We could record into his system or whatever, so we would just write songs and sing and play keyboards and you know.
Then, yeah, I put a pause on that when I started playing jazz music, then I started writing songs out of college, like around late college.
R: It’s always been a part of your life, but it’s been pretty recently that you started focusing on it again.
CK: Yeah, definitely.
R: Lashes, was inspired by the dance culture in Berlin, right?
CK: Yeah, once I got out there man, I saw the vibe in that culture out there, that dance culture was really inspiring. It didn’t inspire to the point, you know, for me to write that kind of music, electronic music like that, but that inspired me to blend that with what I was already doing.
R: Right, I wanted to ask about that, because it was inspired by that, but it started to come about from you experimenting after shows while you were on tour with artists like Esperanza Spalding and Takuya Kuroda. How did those blend? Was that an organic thing, or did you try to incorporate both things?
CK: Well, sonically, I dig, I like a lot of synth and the programming that a lot of DJs and producers use. I like how they put things on a grid and how they’re manipulating sound. I came form a heavy acoustic background, so that’s kind of how that was happening. Also, the jazz stuff, it’s a lot of harmony in that music, and in my music, so I was just kind of playing with all of that.
R: It sounds really dope. When you first wrote the songs, were they entirely created on DAWs or were you writing on acoustic instruments at the same time?
CK: Yeah, I always start my ideas with just my voice and keyboard, or piano, stuff like that. Once I have a good sketch of something, or something I want to roll with, then I’ll start entering it into Logic or Ableton or whatever, so I won’t forget the idea because I was on the road.
R: What was it like moving the song from that format to a live band? Did a lot change in the process?
CK: Yeah, a lot was changing. Some stems that I would have from the original versions, I would take out and then some things would be empty. It was kind of crazy because you get so used to hearing something a certain way then when the band comes in to play it, it starts to sound different and everybody is interpreting it differently. I dig it because I want the stuff to change. When I bring other people in, that’s the magic.
R: The topics on the record cover a wide range of ideas, from your own personal memories and experiences but also contemporary social issues. Have these songs been a long time coming, or did they happen within a short period of time?
CK: Originally when I decided I wanted to record these songs, I was paying more attention to the record sonically, and I wanted to use the voice just as another instrument. I was kind of forming a lot stories, but then once a lot of this stuff starting happening, you know the police brutality and all the crazy shit that’s going on, I felt like it was time to kind of talk about these things and bring it into the music.
R: You mentioned earlier how much the music changed when you got the band into the studio and they started to interpret the music. I know you’ve got a history with Jamire from playing in his band.
R: Did you have these guys in mind because you had played with them before, or did you hear them when you thought about arranging the songs for a live band.
CK: I definitely had these guys in mind because they’re my favorite musicians. They know me better than anybody. Matt and Jamire and Alan, Vicente, and you know, Justin was one of the newer additions, but he and I listen to the same music, and a lot of us listen to the same kind of music, so they understand the music I listen to. They understand me. I knew the flow in the studio would be a lot faster with my brothers. They’ve always been in mind for sure.
Check out the full album stream below. You can cop your copy of Corey King’s Lashes via iTunes.