Rising alt-popstar King Isis shares excitement of upcoming EP “shed”


King Isis, a talented vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and punk popstar, is releasing a new EP shed this Thursday, March 21st. As a companion piece to their debut EP scales, shed conveys the momentum of King Isis as an incredibly talented songwriter, vocalist, and performer (acoustic and full band) in today’s grungy, alt-pop space.

King Isis has carved a unique sound out for themself, the siren-like vocals of an acoustic singer-songwriter paired with heavy drums and electric guitar are impressive. The result is head-banging songs accented by introspective lyrics and beautiful vocals. Released in anticipation of shed, “MONKI” is a perfect example of this. Hear from King Isis below about the inspiration surrounding shed, how their upbringing influences their music, and past and upcoming performances.

Sofia Chaudruc: Your EP shed is coming out March 21st and it is coming from a place of deep introspection and rebirth as an individual. Do you feel as if this is your first project predominantly driven by self-inquiry or has it been a build-up over the course of your music career?

King Isis: I feel like this is something that has been building throughout the releases – writing has always been a safe space for me – a way to (re)discover myself. I feel like shed definitely explores these themes in the most in-depth way – it’s the most dissonant project.

SC: Your undergraduate studies at Barnard College in New York led you to Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s seminal text Borderlands/La Frontera. This was a big inspiration on the shed EP, can you elaborate on how the two are linked?

KI: What spoke the most to me in Borderlands was this concept Anzaldua introduces of the Coatlicue State and entering the serpent. Anzaldua describes these as moments of transformation, acceptance, of becoming, and release. Anzaldua signifies the serpent as the subversive, the divergent, and as a symbol of a deviant, sexually-healed femininity, which in a world governed by masculine fragility, is one of its most feared forms. Throughout Anzaldua’s text, she urges readers to succumb to the temptation, to “let the wound caused by the serpent be cured by the serpent.”

In shed, I let the serpent sink its teeth in and transform the pain into power. I explore places that I’ve rejected, that I’ve made small, that I’ve silenced. Shame I’ve experienced in my queerness, shame in my Blackness growing up surrounded by an idealized whiteness, and shame in processing the trauma of an abusive relationship. Instead of hiding behind my shame + silencing myself for the comfort of others, I enter the serpent. Throughout this EP, I’m processing a lot of pain and shame – and in creating this music – transforming and releasing – repurposing this pain into power.

SC: So you attended Barnard and currently live in New York, but you are originally from Oakland. How has living in New York City as a young adult shaped your musical career and personal growth?

KI: I think living in NYC in those formative years definitely allowed me the freedom to explore my identity and creativity in ways that I couldn’t do in the confines of my hometown. I’ve recently moved to LA to be closer to my collaborators but there’s a love and sense of community I feel in NYC that I don’t really experience as much in LA.

SC: At your recent performance in February in Brooklyn, you decided to do a solo acoustic set. What was the driving force behind this decision? 

KI: The main driving force behind this decision was the cost, touring is expensive AF. Once you add up transportation, daily stipend, places to stay, etc. you’re looking at thousands of dollars. But also this is my first tour ever and performing solo acoustic felt like the most honest introduction of me as an artist.

SC: It certainly was a great set. Do you prefer acoustic sets or playing with a full band?

KI: It can definitely be a bit more daunting playing acoustically mainly because the attention is fully directed on you – like I’m more conscious of how I present. However, the acoustic set is the closest to how I write the songs – an acoustic guitar and a notebook – so it feels more personal and less like a ‘performance’ if that makes sense. With the band, I feel less like a perfectionist and more in sync with my bandmates. I think something that’s a bit more of a challenge with the full band is having to step out of my shell and into the King Isis character. As someone who is naturally more introverted, it’s a challenge, but ultimately, playing with the band is a lot of fun and I think the full sound translates the best that way.

SC: Going bigger picture, who are some of your musical inspirations, general artistic inspirations, and/or personal ones?

KI: Some of my musical inspirations are Sevdaliza, King Krule, Erykah Badu, and Yves Tumor. Some other people that really inspire me are Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, and Gloria Anzaldua. But generally speaking, I’m inspired by the relationships and conversations I have with people.

SC: Lastly, we cannot wait for shed to come out on March 21st, but what can we anticipate from King Isis next – do you plan on going to any festivals this summer, performing your new EP locally, or maybe hunkering down and writing? 

KI: I’ve been working on some new music that I’m really excited about and hoping to set aside some writing weeks to fully cultivate the next project – maybe a debut album? I’m also playing festivals in Europe this summer, and have some shows in the bay I’m really excited about in June (can’t say quite yet!).

I’m finishing up this US tour with Mehro for the rest of March but would love to be out on the road again a bunch this year. Also – I’ve written this short film that kinda ties up the worlds of the EPs and introduces the new project and would love to get that out to the world sometime this year. But at the very least you can expect even more new music from me this year, I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and I can’t wait to share it <3

Photos by Eric Mura for

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