Sullivan King Reigns Supreme: Electronic/metal genre-bender Sullivan King is preparing to release new album Thrones of Blood in March. This should be a big year for the multi-instrumentalist, and he’s come a long way. That said, he’s not exactly sure when he got his start.
“It’s hard to pick an exact moment because to me, being a ‘producer” has changed so much over the years from what I always grew up thinking a producer was,” he says. “Producers now are artists, writers, etc. all centrifuged into one. I would say the ‘start’ for me was when I found out about artists like Skrillex, Rusko, Kaskade, Deadmau5, and a few others early on around 2009-2010. That was when my head was spun 1000x learning that people could just make whatever they wanted without needing a band, and writers, and (what I thought at the time you certainly needed) producers, and engineers, and labels, and so on. That was really exciting to me! I wanted to learn how to work on my own shit and not ‘rely’ on other people to make songs come to life, because at that point I had been a guitar player, however I wasn’t really interested in trying to put together a band. Something about having free rein to make and do whatever and release it to the world felt indescribably liberating. I didn’t take a complete interest to DJing right away because at that point I didn’t get how the crowd connection worked. It just didn’t make sense to me having spent my teens as a guitarist, I just didn’t get why people would go to see a DJ. Then I saw videos of EDC, Tomorrowland, Ultra… and something just sort of clicked where it started to make more and more sense. By 2012, that had become far more of an interesting thing to dive into musically.”
King says that he took his art seriously from the very beginning.
“It feels just the same today, flying first class around the world, playing for 20,000+ people a night as it did 8-10 years ago, when I was unemployed and eating ramen and peanut butter sandwiches twice a day, 6 days a week (the 7th day was reserved for a Little Caesars pizza or In N Out, of course), spending each second of my days arduously working on horrific bootlegs and remixes of hit songs, uploading them to SoundCloud on private mode with downloads enabled, which I then sent to every single DJ promo email I could scrounge together, all in the hopes that I would wake up one day to someone having downloaded it in order to rinse out live,” he says. “So to me, it’s serious when you wake up and say ‘this is it. Fuck the backup plan. Screw the ‘if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just go work at blah’.’ And you stick to that. That’s serious. Because there is a HUGE difference between ‘serious’ and being viable. I worked for months without stopping for more than a few hours to sleep or eat or whatever. Sunlight didn’t touch my skin for days on end. And even though I was hammering away, it was a good 4-5 years from the beginning before I finally got an inkling of recognition or glimpse of what could maybe, mayyyyyybe happen. So honestly, it was FAR more serious then than now, because back then, I thought I was gonna wither away to nothing, lol.”
It was around 2016/17 when King was finally able to make a living doing this.
“I was doing some studio/production work with someone that I consider a mentor of mine (his name is Dennis White, he goes by Latroit and if there is anyone that you could acknowledge as the person that jumpstarted my career and success, it’s him – well maybe not like all of it, but I should probably send him a generous gift card to a solid restaurant or something. He likes Sushi, so maybe Sushi Yuzu would be good or perhaps Sushi | Bar),” he says. “Thanks to the music we made together, I was able to finally get my head above water financially and focus on my own projects. In 2017, I started to get a little buzz with a remix I did for Excision, a couple collabs with Riot Ten, and a few original songs that didn’t do all too bad. I was given the honor of touring the 2nd leg of the I See Stars ‘Treehouse’ tour in the spring of 2017 and after performing in Los Angeles, a few agents from a talent agency called “Circle” (now UTA) offered to represent me – whom of which I am still madly in love with today. And the rest is somewhat blurry history.”
King describes his sound today as metal + dubstep.
“Screaming x guitar + more loud things,” he says. “TL:DR; I listened to dubstep one day and thought it was cool, and I also met a guy who knew a few people and we did cool music together, even though I should have been hospitalized for ingesting too much instant ramen for like 5 years, but I’m ok now, and in 2017 some cool people thought my music was also cool and they started to (and still) help me travel and play that cool music for other people that think it’s cool.”
King believes this is an exciting time for electronic music, particularly for new artists.
“I think with sort of any artistic explosion, where any genre is thrusted into the ‘mainstream,’ and when things go through a state of ‘over saturation’ or it’s all moving too fast, or whatever, we’re in this ‘dust-has-settled’ period with bass music that ultimately creates a few fantastic waves of sonic culture,” he says. “The up-and-coming artists of the last 6-10 years are really dominating their creativity and sound in an immaculate way that is just so exciting for fans to rally behind, while also bringing massive inspiration to a completely fresh breed of producers that think so differently than a lot of us SoundCloud-era dubstep/electronic music producers did. And that may be a tad naive and ignorant to say since it may come off like there aren’t always new artists, because clearly there are – but right now feels different with the social media landscape going through its TikTok-induced earthquake. When a platform emerges of that magnitude, so do new people that are rising with it, gracefully – and that also brings new fans and listeners that otherwise would probably have never been interested. So it’s a pretty rad time!”
King’s forthcoming release is the Thrones of Blood album.
“I recorded the single in Miami at my home studio,” he says. “It was a song that has been changed and changed and changed so many times, I’m not even sure how it got to where it is now (haha), but I’m so beyond stoked and proud of it. It’s something I have literally never done before, and I don’t think the fans have ever really heard me attempt. That’s the concept for this whole album; creating a record for fans and listeners that feels like they are re-hearing me again for the very first time. The idea of this song and the album title in general is insanely simple which is just that this is what I have poured literally years of blood, sweat, and tears into, and I am not backing down for a fucking second from what I love to do, regardless of what stands in the way.”
Looking ahead, King is planning a lot of touring for this year.
“Soooo much damn touring (haha), lots of shows and festivals to come, as well as even more music later on this year, as per usual,” he says. “I also plan on stretching more because I am feelin’ old y’all, this back wasn’t built to be jumping off DJ tables every night let me tell ya, also I would like to drink way more water… Yeah that’s pretty much it.”
Sullivan King Reigns Supreme: Sullivan King’s Thrones of Blood album is out in March. He plays the Hollywood Palladium on April 7 and 8. Tickets available here.
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