Named as 2016 'Breakthrough Artist of the Year' at the NZ Music Awards, Auckland rapper Kings talks to Alex Behan about his self-produced debut EP, making tunes on the marae, and raising a daughter while trying to break into the music game.
It’s as easy to like Kingsdon Chapple-Wilson, aka Kings, as it is to like his music. He’s laid-back but passionate, unassuming yet driven, warm and welcoming with his heart on his sleeve.
His song, ‘Don’t Worry 'Bout It’, dominated New Zealand radio charts all year. It's a summery care-free tune about letting go of fear and enjoying the moment. But the genesis of this hedonistic anthem wasn’t borne out of endless nights in a club being young and irresponsible; Kings is a father, and his daughter provided the inspiration.
“It was Christmas time, we were stressing about Christmas presents, and money, and my daughter just wasn’t worried at all. She was just running around the playground, so the first words in the song ‘run free boy run free, that’s what I would have said to the young me’, those words came to me just from watching her run free and be not stressed.”
Though it's just this year that he's hit the NZ public consciousness, It's been a long road for Kings. He has been honing his craft, in a studio on his local marae, for about six years.
“I made music for commercials - I did Malaysia KFC I did Les Mills in New Zealand. So my name was kind of already in the background as a producer, then last year I decided to take up artistry. All that experience helped create the boom.
"The more I started making the more people encouraged me to put it out there. People were saying it just about my production, it helped big myself up. The first couple of songs didn’t do too well, and then ‘Don’t Worry 'Bout It’ went out and really shone. My dad also, he was a huge believer in me believing in myself, if I didn’t have him I would definitely be at Macca’s right now probably, doing the drive-thru shift”
By the time ‘Don’t Worry Bout It’ came out everything began to fall into place. The video started going viral, and record companies started paying attention.
“It was a process of getting it out there. I had all the tools to do it, it didn’t cost me anything, I shot the video on my phone, I mixed, mastered produced and wrote and recorded it myself so there was no budget going into it and then it’s up on YouTube and that platform sort of created the shockwave into the field where Warner Music New Zealand got in touch with me and Ministry of Sound Australia.”
Kings debut self-titled EP is out now and he is opening act on the upcoming Broods tour.
“For the EP I wanted to touch on everything. It was important to me that I wrote, produced and mastered everything myself. I wanted to show people I could do that. In lots of different styles. I wanted to use it like a business card, like 'if you guys need some production I got you', I can also do some singing and some rapping. It’s just a very diverse ‘take me as I am’ statement.”