We caught up with rising artist King Isis to discuss new music, musical legacy, and how, really, we’re all just figuring stuff out.

Meet King Isis, the California native with their own brand of fusion sounds ready to take 2023 by storm. In conjunction with independent label No Matter, they’re Dirty Hit’s most recent signing, joining the hallowed roster in the impressive company of the 1975, Wolf Alice and Beabadoobee and more. Listen to King Isis’ new single, “taste of u”, and it’s not hard to understand the label’s decision. The indie rock gem echoes with an assurance far beyond King Isis’ years, taking listeners on an absorbing story of romantic intoxication. In their words, it’s about “knowing something is bad for you but despite warning signs and red flags, still chasing an illusion to escape your own delusion”.


Born and raised in Oakland, King Isis’ relationship to music goes deeper than most. They were taught to play on the same piano owned by their great-great-grandmother Omega King, one of the first Black opera singers in Chicago, and the reference point for Isis’ musical moniker. The journey to their current sound, however, hasn’t always been plain sailing. Describing often feeling on the periphery in predominantly white, wealthy private schools, the artist undertook years of stringent classic training that stifled, rather than inspired, a young King Isis. Coming to discover improvisation and experimentation, music then became a place of sanctuary, and a salve to the feelings of otherness.


Learning more about King Isis, the layers to their musical passion becomes clear. They cite musical inspirations ranging from SOPHIE to Erykah Badu and Tyler The Creator, and personal inspirations of feminist progressives like Assata Shakur, Angela Davis and Gloria Anzaldua. The communal healing power of music is also central to the King Isis ethos. They volunteer teaching music classes for low-income communities in Los Angeles in their spare time, as well as working with the FreeStudio Program of Rikers Island creating a safe creative space for incarcerated youth and the children of incarcerated adults.


With a debut EP, ‘scales’ is out at the end of this month, the central theme is shadow work: the concept of uncovering the parts of yourself hidden within the unconscious. Whatever King Isis is offering us now, we’re sure there’s much, much more to discover. We caught up with the artist to discuss new music, musical legacy, and how, really, we’re all just figuring stuff out.

Hey, how’s it going! Congrats on the Dirty Hit/No Matter singing! Has it been a busy 2023 so far?

Thank you! I’ve definitely been putting some work in this year, but I’m so ready to see what the rest of this year has in store. I released my second single on the EP last month and gotten some love from lots of people and places I wasn’t expecting. I’ll be releasing my first ever EP this Spring and I’m ready to really get things going.

“in my ways” came out at the start of this month, can you tell me a bit about the track? Are you happy with how it’s been received?

“in my ways” is more of like a fun, dancey track that I wrote to acknowledge I was in a certain place and wanted to get out of it. There’s been a lot of love for the track that makes me really happy. I’m glad people are being really receptive and open to Black artists making music outside of the prescribed box. I’m really grateful to be able to make the music I love that others are loving too.

Your debut EP is out this spring, what kinds of themes can we expect from the project?

‘Scales’ focuses on introspection, shadow work and beginning to let go. It’s kind of an introduction of exploration of self and sounds, and also the beginning of going deeper into the self to find a balance in all parts of you. It’s the beginning of a series of projects focused on shadow work and the title reflects the idea of the serpent as a symbol of the parts of yourself that have been repressed and subdued.

“taste of u” is the newest single from the EP, and people have such a cute visualiser to look forward to. Do you enjoy the process of thinking about what visuals might go with a track – how do you go about it?

Yes, I love the visual component to music, I think it adds a whole new layer of dimension to the tracks and helps bring a new perspective to the song as well. I also think the process for me opens up new meanings and worlds I wasn’t even thinking about or connecting in the initial song writing process. I love connecting different mediums of art with music. I wanna work with more dancers and visual artists as well.

The EP feels like a real meld of influences, with some indie rock and grungy elements alongside jazzy melodies – if this debut project serves as a musical introduction of the world to King Isis, what do you think that introduction is saying?

I think what this EP is saying is ‘Hello, I’m Isis, here’s a sneak-peek into the chaos of my brain that kinda all makes sense put together. I’m here, with you, tryna figure this shit out too.’ It’s saying here are parts of me, an exploration of identity, of vulnerability, of finding myself; here’s to genre-bent sounds to feel whole and feel free.

It sounds like music is really in your blood, could you tell me a bit about how the name ‘King Isis’ pays reverence to that?

Yes! Music has been in my family for generations. My name comes from my great-great grandmother, Omega King, who was one of the first Black opera singers in Chicago. I wanted to tie in the musical legacy that’s in my blood to my artist name as a reminder of my roots and that I’m on the right path.

Did music always feel like something that was achievable as a path to follow for you?

It was always something I wanted to pursue. I was raised by my mom, who has always been supportive of my passions, so having her in my life has definitely made my dreams seem more like realities. I’ve dealt with my own internal demons that told me I wasn’t good enough or this or that enough that definitely made this path appear cloudy, but I’ve gotten to a place where I believe in myself enough to really go for it.

What drives you to keep creating and making music?

What drives me to keep creating music is a feeling I don’t find in anything else – creating music in an all-encompassing experience for me. I learn about myself, find freedom, discover new feelings, and feel fully alive when writing and creating, like I’m a part of the world.

You were born and raised in Oakland, what do you miss most about it when you leave?

Besides my family, the food, the trees, Arizmendi Bakery and the energy. Oakland will always be home.

What’s on your musical bucket list for the next few years? Is there anything to achieve where you’ll stop and feel ‘yeah, I’ve made it’?

There’s a lot there. I wanna play a bunch of shows, festivals, headline my own sold-out tour. I wanna collaborate with people like Nilufer Yanya, Paris Texas, Tyler, the Creator – let me make a song with King Krule and that might be that moment. There’s a lot I wanna do with music and I’m so excited to be really starting on this journey.

And finally, what are you manifesting for the next few months?

Tours. Sold-out shows. Playing Afropunk. A cute, collaborative community of creatives. Hosting showcases. New ears, new fans, new friends. Smiles!

Stream King Isis' releases so far below:


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