During a muggy Texas day we sat down with Louise and Kristin of Prima Queen to chat about their new music, debut SXSW experience, and more!
It was an intensely muggy day in Austin, Texas on the Thursday of SXSW. A day that would later see a huge lightning storm, heavy rain, and even a tornado warning. However, before all that excitement we made our way down to Valhalla, a grungy rock bar located near the infamous Rainey St, a hub for live music, bars, and partying. It was roughly 1pm but the streets were full and the bars were as lively as ever. In the midst of all this we sat down with the duo Prima Queen, a band that had tickled our ears before arriving at SXSW. There show at the British Music Embassy the night before helped solidify our love for their heartwarming sound that backed by striking guitars, thoughtful songwriting, and a bewildering stage presence.
It’s safe to say we were incredibly excited to chat to them to find out more about the duo. Our conversation saw us chat about their debut year at SXSW, surfing in Newquay, and their forthcoming EP which is out May 3rd 2023.
Kieran: We caught your set yesterday at the British Music Embassy, it was truly stunning, I am interested to chat about your sound. You have a clear indie-rock sound but there are elements of folk, how did this sound develop?
Kristin: Well we were just writing a lot of songs at one point and I picked up the violin after not playing since I was a kid. We had never really used it in Prima Queen as we didn’t think it quite fit our style. I was kinda bored of making guitar parts so I thought what if violin was on this song instead of our normal set up. We were worried that our music may end up all sounding the same and we really didn’t want to put ourselves into a box. So yeah, we picked it up for that song and I think it emotes the right feeling for that song.
Louise: Yeah, with that song as well it has spoken word in it and we felt that it was kind of out of our comfort zone. So, we thought fuck it, let’s get the violin in as well.
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Kieran: You have your debut EP out May 3rd and I’m curious to know have you had these tracks written and recorded for a while?
Kristin: Yes and no, we’re always writing. There are a lot of songs that haven’t been released and we don’t really play because we have to play the ones we’ve put out there. There are a lot of secret songs we want to get out there though.
Kieran: What can we expect from the EP?
Kristin: I think this the first time we have released a collection of work, We have really thought a lot about how the songs connect together.
Louise: Yeah, we’ve really thought about how they connect thematically and the flow of the EP itself.
Kristin: You really need to listen to the EP as a whole.
Kieran: Is it a more old school vibe that weaves a story from beginning to end as opposed a collection of songs?
Kristin: Well, it’s not one whole.
Louise: It’s a mixture of newer songs and older songs but we wanted them all to tie in together thematically.
Kieran: Okay cool, so when you say thematically what is the overarching theme?
Louise: It’s about change. Change in relationships and how that affects you.
Kristin: Growing up and feeling the effects of different change with different relationships within yourself and how that affects everything in your life.
Louise: Yeah, family, friends, lovers.
Kieran: Is this all from a personal point of view or a made up story?
Louise: I would say it’s a cocktail of both our experiences. When one of us is singing lead it will be our story but we do mostly write together.
Kieran: So you two met seven years ago when Kristin moved from Chicago. That’s such a leap.. what made you do that?
Kristin: Well, I was living in LA for a summer and it was fourth of July.
Kieran: That is very American!
Kristin: Yeah (laughs). Someone came up to me and was like are you going to study abroad? I wasn’t sure at the time and this guy was like YOU HAVE TO STUDY ABROAD IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. So I thought yeah okay, so decided to study abroad as this person was so adamant about it. I was also recently heartbroken so just wanted to escape so applied for a course in London.
Kieran: When you arrived in London what was your first impressions? Did you find there was a culture shock?
Kristin: Oh yeah it was a huge culture shock (laughs).
Kieran: What surprised you the most?
Louise: Ploughman’s sandwich (laughs).
Kristin: (Laughs) I do love a Ploughman’s sandwich!
I felt misunderstood sometimes or being in a g group of people and not feeling you can relate to things. Or even having conversations with people whilst speaking the same language but having no idea what they’re talking about, it felt very isolating at times. However, I have been there so long now I don’t feel that so much or at all really.
Kieran: So how did you two meet and at what point did you want to start making music?
Louise: Oh Instantly. My course had told us that Kristin was coming as she joined us half way through. I was trying to make a band with someone at that time and they showed us a video of Kristin and I knew straight away I want to be in a band with her. I was so worried about coming off to strong (laughs) to the point where people were telling me to calm down. Literally the moment she came in I was just looking at her and asked her to be in a band with me.
Kristin: I still remember the first time you were just staring at me (laughs).
Louise: I just shouted will you be in my band?!
Kristin: I was just like yeah, okay.
“I remember suggesting we name ourselves Queen and was like oh that may be taken too“Kristin McFadden – Prima Queen
Louise: The we wrote a song that very day. We also were trying to come up with a band name and at the time we were living in West London. We were walking down the road pointing things out like pavement, oh wait that’s taken, traffic light, things like that.
Kieran: How did you come up with Prima Queen?
Louise: Well, we were actually called something else first but we won’t speak of that. We wanted a name that was feminine and powerful.
Kristin: I remember suggesting we name ourselves Queen and was like oh that may be taken too (laughs).
Louise: We came up with Prima Queen as it’s strong but delicate.
Kieran: That sums up your music perfectly as I feel you walk the line of soft and hard. Which segways into my next question.. do you have any particular influences when it comes to your music?
Kristin: Oh yeah lots of people!
Louise: We actually went to the record store here, I think Waterloo Records. I found a Rilo Kiley album and that was one of the first bands we both thought, this could be us.
Kristin: Yeah, I had never played an electric guitar before I met Louise and she really inspired me.
Louise: I could barely play (laughs).
Kristin: We had one that we would pass back and forth but I had no interest in it before. I remember when she showed me Rilo Kiley and just showing me that you can blend all these elements to make really beautiful music that is upbeat and fun.
Louise: Traditionally rock is so masculine. I feel like the main thing with our songwriting is the storytelling and harmonies. We really like bands that toe the line of being heavy but gentle at the same time.
Kristin: Yeah, having music that is really great at story telling whilst also having that exciting edge to it.
Louise: And it’s loud as well.
Kristin: She says with a smile!
Kieran: I am sensing that you’re (Kristin) your maybe the softer side and you’re (Louise) the harder?
Kristin: No! (laughs).
Louise: I think we both can do both. I know that when we started we both played acoustic guitar and we were doing our own thing but I was really into a lot of folk like Laura Marling.
Kristin: I was very much in my Alanis Morissette phase. We bounce really well off each other I feel.
Louise: Where we live in South London there is a lot of rock and post-punk so we take some influence fro that.
Kieran: The Windmill scene?
Louise: Yeah, we’re not in that club per say but I feel there are a lot of clubs that play there.
Kieran: Yeah, I get that. It’s interesting to see as someone that is from Cornwall, looking from the outside in.
Louise: We love Newquay!
Kristin: Yeah we love it there! We played there last year I think it was great.
Louise: We surf there too!
I actually got a surfboard from Deptford market and it says Free Bird on it but it has unfortunately just stayed in my garden. It’s not the most realistic of sports to get into whilst you live in London (laughs.
Kieran: Well if you come back to Newquay we will get you out surfing again.. but back to SXSW.. is this your first time here?
Kristin: Yeah, we’re loving it. Austin is so great.
Louise: I wanna live here. People are so friendly!
Kieran: Agreed, they’re going to have to drag me onto the plane to go home.. you have a few shows lined up whilst here too right?
Louise: Yeah, we’re playing a few times, we cannot wait!
Kieran: Wicked, well thanks for taking the time to chat to us and enjoy your time at SXSW!
Louise & Kristin: You too!!
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