For Gabriela Olmedo Catalán, who you’ll know better as singer/songwriter KING, singing and dancing is part of her nature. The Copenhagen-born singer, who has both Cuban and Chilean heritage, has been performing and creating her whole life. From street dancing aged 11 (!!) to becoming a dance teacher aged 18 and now a neo-soul musician, KING is a master of performance. Her vibrant blend of Scandi-cool with South American/Caribbean attitude results in eloquent lyrics and contagious melodies, in a similar vein to NAO and Kelela. Her new single “Promise”, exploring those relationships where you want someone to promise you something, is seductive and strong; you’d never guess that it’s the Danish singer’s debut.
Shot in the lush Cuban rainforest, the video for “Promise” is KING’s way of showing us all how beautiful Cuba really is. The sultry track shows her full range of vocal abilities (which are seemingly endless), with the euphoric chorus pushing the track into anthemic territory, whilst the video perfectly showcases her enviable dance talents. Making her way through the thick Cuban jungle, KING moves with effortless grace, with the slo-mo moments and jarring blurs highlighting each individual movement of her entrancing dance. Directed by Morten Sabroe and created to show the natural beauty of the country she loves, the video for “Promise” demonstrates the rhythm, grace and talent that KING possesses. With more music on the horizon, including more “radiant pop-like” sounds, KING is only just beginning.
How would you sum up your sound in three words?
Pop. Urban. Experimental.
What made you choose the name KING?
My nickname is KING – it’s me when I’m my super-self! And that’s why my artist name naturally became KING.
You were born in Copenhagen, with both Cuban and Chilean heritage – how has this affected your sound and what elements of each music scene are you inspired by?
Rhythm has always been a very natural part of me, I have always reacted to rhythm and for me it’s an elemental part of all things I do.
You started dancing in local street dance groups age 11 and were working as a dance teacher when you were 18 – what made you want to make the change to become a musician?
Since I was a child I always knew I wanted to be a singer, but I found out that I was very good at dancing so I gave that a shot. I think a definition of a true artist is someone who can write their own lyrics and their own melodies, and I didn’t know that I had that in me. But I gave it a try. After I gained a little confidence I made the decision to go in the studio. So I just went for it when it felt right.
We love your debut single “Promise”! What was the starting point for writing it?
I wrote “Promise” in Stockholm. We all want someone to promise us something, right? So that’s why I wrote “Promise”. It’s a little deep I guess.
Your video for “Promise” is so interesting – where was it filmed and where did you get the idea from?
It was filmed in the countryside of Cuba. I always wanted to make a video in Cuba because I’m from there and I love the nature there and wanted to show people this. And with the fantastic director Morten Sabroe we made that happen. I actually think this could be the first music video shot entirely on location in Cuba.
What’s your creative process like – do the sounds or the lyrics come first?
I write all of my lyrics down and I have the melody in my head, and then everything just comes together as a natural flow when I’m in the studio
Which artists do you take direct influence from and why are you inspired by them?
Justin Nozuka is my biggest inspiration – he is from Canada. He writes songs in a very vivid and eloquent style, which is what I love about him.
Outside of music what inspires you?
What do you want to make people feel with your music?
I don’t make music to make people feel a certain way. My music is an expression of my feelings and people will relate to these feelings differently. That’s the beauty of music, how it touches each and everyone individually.
What can we expect from you during the rest of 2016?
Definitely more music – Promise is just me starting out. I’m constantly recording, writing songs. I have loads of aces up my sleeve. I’m playing around with some bright, radiant pop-like stuff and some mistier things. I can go both ways!