After wowing the underground scene for the last few years, Crystal King is being tipped as one-to-watch. The East London-based singer/songwriter will be performing at next month's London Olympics - with the whole world watching. And with debut single "Flying High" out this summer, 2012's shaping up to be a breakthrough year for the talented songstress.
Picking up the mic at the tender age of seven, being on stage comes natural to King. Having started out singing lead vocals at her local community church and school events, the east London-based singer/songwriter perfected her craft on the live circuit, gaining a steady following over the years - both in the UK and overseas.
"Singing comes natural to me, it's a part of who I am as a person, not just a career path," King explains. "I've been singing for as long as I can remember."
Inspired by musicians such as Prince, Madonna and Mary J Blige, the rising star names Lauryn Hill as one of her main influences. "The Miseducation Of Lauren Hill is one of my favourite albums of all time. The emotion she conveys on that record is so raw and powerful," King gushes.
Fusing many genres together, it's pretty hard to pigeonhole the talented songstress into one box. With her soulful vocals, the Beckton native takes rhythm and blues back to its original form, whilst sprinkling hints of contemporary jazz with traditional pop: "My sound is pretty much a mash-up of everything that inspires me," King says on defining her musical sound. "I don't let genres define me. I just see music for what it is and make the music that I like, regardless of what category it falls into."
After making a solid name for herself on the UK live circuit - performing at London's 02 a whopping FOUR times in 2011 alone - King has gained a steady following along the way. She's collaborated with SAS and DaVinche, and with her EP The Complexity Of Crystal King out this summer and debut single "Flying High" on the airwaves, Crystal King is most certainly ONE TO WATCH!
Interview with Crystal KingQuestion:
How did performing at the 2012 London Olympics come about? Crystal King
: My part in the actual Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics was as a model and I had to audition for that role, which consisted of escorting the athletes during the televised live parade. I was chosen to represent The Maldives and Uganda. There were thousands of people at the auditions, so I was really chuffed to get it. I was also lucky enough to perform there as well. My role of performing my music as an artist on the Newham Live screens for the Olympics, I think I got chosen for that, due to the fact that I'm always dedicated to any performances that come up in my borough (where the Olympics are being held) for my fans closer to home. Even though I travel up and down the UK and overseas for shows, I always make it a priority to do local shows as well. So this led to the organisers contacting me with two bookings for the live big screen gigs. I was so excited and it's definitely one of the biggest highlights of my career so far. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform at The Olympics in your home town. Question:
Can you talk about the experience of performing at the 2012 London Olympics? Crystal King
: Honestly, coming out with the teams to a full stadium of 80,000 people was a role like no other I have ever experienced. Epic might be a good word to throw in at this point. A few others that can follow it are thrilling and just WOW! It was an absolute buzz. Bright lights and extreme happiness everywhere. Performing on the Newham Live public Olympic Games screens stage was absolutely amazing. The crowd were great, all out for a good time and showing so much support for each track from my EP (The Complexity of Crystal King). It was great seeing their reactions to the songs - some of which were being performed live for the very first time.Question:
How would you describe your music, in five words? Crystal King
: Passion, Movement, Discovery, Complexity, Growth.Question:
How would you describe you single, Flying High? Crystal King
: For me 'Flying High' represents me stepping into a new realm with my music, where I can be recognised as a songwriter with a message. It's a single that says 'I have a deeper side to me'. It may seem like a track written by a girl, to a guy, about love, but that's just what it looks like on the surface - which is what I wanted. But deeper than that, it's a song about dreams manifesting and knowing what you want, and then, how it actually can feel to receive it. Whether it be a person - or whatever you want to go for in life - the feeling it brings to discover that you have it in your possession, that's Flying High.Question:
Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration? Crystal King
: Yep, I write my own songs. My music is very personal and honest to me. I'm inspired by everything around me. I learned a long time ago when I was travelling alone in New York for months on end to appreciate the things around me - big and small. Because they can all turn out to lead to something incredible. Now I look at EVERYTHING deeper and for longer than I would have in the past, and I find myself inspired by so much more. Nature, people situations, circumstances, emotions, family etc - everything inspires me. I'm also inspired by opportunity, the chance to do something great. Those who have done great things in the past and those who will do great things in the future are all inspiration to me and confirmation that great things can be achieved if you work hard and stick at it.Question:
What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own? Crystal King
: Oh gosh, I'm all over the place. One day I'll pull out PiNK's Misundaztood album and rock out, and then I'll grab some Mary J or Faith Evans and get my diva on. The next minute I'll be onto Ed Sheeran's album, before whipping out some Lady Gaga. Question:
What's next? Tour/Album/Single? Crystal King
: The release of my EP 'The Complexity of Crystal King' is looming, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how people react to that. I'll be doing a lot of touring and gigging this summer for the EP, and I can't wait to get back on the road. I'll also be in the studio a lot, writing and working on material for my debut album. But the EP is coming very soon...Question:
Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel? Crystal King
: That towel has been chucked about so much - the poor thing - but it's still hanging in there. But on a serious note, I wouldn't ever give up on music, it's the politics that surround it that I juggle with from time to time, as it can be a tough trip for sure. But the towel we speak about with music, to me, is like a safety blanket is to a child - I never want to let it go... I never will.Question:
Do you prefer performing live or recording? Crystal King
: DEFINITELY performing live. I'm a live vocalist, that's what makes it all worth it for me. I record in the studio so that I can go out and perform it on a stage, that's where the whole journey leads - from my mind, to my pen, to the booth and then to the stage. Then it's complete.Question:
What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry? Crystal King
: In the beginning nobody actually gave me the desire to sing, it was just there already. I was just always singing or writing poems. When I look back to my younger days I was never a fanatical fan of anyone. I'm not sure I really knew what it was to be a fan, I just liked everything. My mum always encouraged extracurricular activities, so I was always at a youth club, after school club, choir group or something, and music was always there somewhere, so I began to pick up a real passion.
I was growing up with a mother who loved reggae and a bit of R&B from groups like Blackstreet, a father who loved lovers rock and wrote songs, a brother who was a Garage DJ and loved hip-hop, an uncle who loved Prince and friends who loved the Spice Girls, Missy Elliot and Hanson haha. So music was coming from all directions in all colours. It was actually Alicia Keys who made me realise I REALLY REALLY wanted it, more than I had thought I did. She was fresh, relatable, emotive and just stunning. I think she was the first person I was a real fan of and then the others began to roll in.Question:
What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success? Crystal King
: I think just having to believe in myself in the times when I didn't know if anyone else did. Music is a road full of people but it is also a lonely road. You have to save yourself a thousand times and pat your own back to keep yourself going sometimes. Each year you think... am I still doing this? Am I mad? But then I find every time that thought comes up, something new comes along to rescue me from the thought. My main saviour is my passion to do something that is just so natural to me. That feeling that you were born to do something.Question:
What's a typical day like? Crystal King
: Each day is different to the other. I'm a business woman as well as a musician. I own the events and creative management company Celebrity Creations Management in London, which is a business I started when I was 19 and grew from scratch to what it is today. I tend to see everything I touch as a bit of a project - like 'hmmm what can I make out of this today?' I've always been like that. I'm always creating something. So one day I'll be managing my beauty event, the next day I'll be performing at a festival, the next I'll be in my office planning a new innovative project with a client, before going home to a nice cup of tea (my addiction) and snuggling up to write a song about the Summertime. I've never been a 'let's do the same thing everyday' kind of girl. I can't sit still like that...it's not possible.Question:
What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist? Crystal King
: It's a journey of discovery. I mean every 6 months I want to do something else in my musical journey. It's so much fun. I have a million personalities, I really do, and music allows me to explore and show them all, without looking totally bonkers. It's a great place to channel my energy and share my experiences.Question:
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be? Crystal King
: Norah Jones or Erykah Badu.Question:
Do you have a website fans can visit? Crystal King
: Yes there is my blog for regular updates where fans can also comment on what's going on directly: CrystalTheKing.blogspot.co.uk
. Or they can follow and talk to me direct on twitter
Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life? Crystal King
: The Mind
Sweet Chilli Sauce