If you’ve never heard of Hey, King!, prepare to fall in love. Consisting of lovers and partners Natalie London and Taylor Plecity who’ve been together for over 6 years, the band speaks volumes to all the struggles we go through in this thing called life, inspired directly by real-life experiences.
Both Natalie and Taylor hail from tumultuous pasts, with the former from London, Ontario Canada, raised by a single mother in San Diego, CA who escaped an abusive relationship and even beat cancer. Natalie also fought her own battles with Lyme Disease, proving herself 4 years in to do the unthinkable—and even penning her journey in comedic book Lyme Light: A Memoir.
Taylor on the other hand was raised in Arizona without a father who was often absent, and a mother who was dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. A 13-year-old Taylor was taken in by a teacher and found her solace in anime, going on to win endless cosplay competitions. With her acting dreams, Taylor moved to Los Angeles where she met Natalie and the two immediately hit it off. Fast forward to 2021, Hey King! is going stronger than ever.
The band recently unleashed their self-titled debut album Hey, King! Produced by Ben Harper, spearheaded by singles “Road Rage,” “Beautiful,” and “Sorry.” Flaunt caught up with Natalie and Taylor via Zoom, who had nothing but kind words to say about each other. Read below as we discuss how the girls met, their sound, how they got their name, the new project, recruiting women for the “Road Rage” visual, goals, and more!
For those who don’t know, who is Hey, King!?
NATALIE: I always want to make a joke, it’s terrible. I always got to say Irish rap music. [laughs] But, no, we’re an Indie Rock band. We’re in the alternative, very orchestrated realm similar to Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons. We’re a big 7-piece with lots of orchestral instruments.
NATALIE: Yeah and I’d think that you need some more coffee. [laughs] Sorry, I’m joking.
TAYLOR: [laughs] It’s so hard to describe.
NATALIE: We play music, music is our first language.
How would you describe your sound?
TAYLOR: Big. Vulnerable.
NATALIE: Especially the record, it’s very vulnerable, very hopeful, and very emotive. I’d like to hope it’s inspiring too. It’s led by the two of us, we’re a double vocalist band that plays with lots of orchestral music. We both sing together.
TAYLOR: I back her up.
NATALIE: She’s amazing!
TAYLOR: You’re amazing too!
How did you guys meet initially?
TAYLOR: We’re a couple, we’ve been dating for 6 years. We met at an event for a children’s hospital, literally one of those “see this girl across the room” type thing. The coolest thing though is I’m not good in social situations or apparently talking to people. This girl comes up to me and says “Hi, I’m Natalie.” For some reason I thought it’d be a great idea to do a handshake with her, that I’ve only done with my childhood best friend. I hold out my hand and before I even said my name to her, I said “do you know this?” We proceeded to do this weird 8 step handshake…
NATALIE: I had a secret handshake with my best friend when I was a little kid. I’ve never met another person who’s ever known that handshake, and it’s not a simple handshake. It’s a really weird one. The fact that she knew this whole handshake was nuts.
At what point did you guys realize you could do music as a duo?
NATALIE: I had a band, I’d just started Hey, King! She came to see us at the main stage of House of Blues before it’d shut down here in LA. You know, Taylor’s an incredible actor and filmmaker and I didn’t realize that she could also do music.
TAYLOR: Musical theater. [laughs]
NATALIE: Within months of us dating, she’s singing along different harmonies. All my bandmates said “you’ve got to get this girl on stage.” I started writing with double vocal lines. I’d always loved bands like Modest Mouse where multiple vocals are happening at the same time, where you’re almost having conversations within songs, but I never performed with another singer per se. We started writing some things together and it became a full-time addition to the band. We became the core of it.
Where’d the name Hey, King! Come from?
NATALIE: Hey King! comes from Where the Wild Things Are movie, the Spike Jonze one. What happened was I was sick for a really long time, I was bedridden for over 4.5 years. I contracted Lyme disease and Bartonella, I couldn’t walk, talk, read or write. I lost a lot of my memory and I’d watch Where the Wild Things Are all the time. That really childlike spirit and that sense of wonder and adventure, his expressions of rage and his fierceness, those were all things I was dying to get out back into the world to express, those are at the core of the band. When I was reading the script through, I thought “there has to be something in here that I can use for a band name.” They never knew Max’s real name so they always yell, “Hey King!” I took that from there, it’s been a part of the band ever since. The spirit of the band.
TAYLOR: Childhood wonder.
NATALIE: We’ll wear onesies on stage, Long Johns and barefoot feet.
TAYLOR We always want to bring in an element of fun because music is fun. It lets you express those feelings you had since you were a kid that you don’t really have another area in your life where you can always get out all of those feelings. Music was that medium for me.
How does it feel to have your self titled album out now? How are you guys feeling?
TAYLOR: It’s awesome!
NATALIE: It’s been really funny to see…you asked in the beginning what we describe ourselves as, it’s so fascinating to watch how different people, especially in different countries, describe the music when they hear it. Because we’ve gotten really cool stuff like the Arcade Fire references and Mumford & Sons, which is amazing. In Rolling Stone France and Rolling Stone Germany, they called us the music version of Thelma & Louise, which cracked me up. Now they’re running with that a little bit, which is hilarious.
TAYLOR: You never know what to expect. For this album in particular, we didn’t go into it thinking of it as an album. Every song, we’ve serviced what we wanted the songs to say and feel. We weren’t ever thinking about “okay if we’re starting with this, running with this…” When we’re working on a song, we solely work on that one song. We got it to a point where is this everything this song wants to say, feel, and tell? I love the way it was able to come together organically. Reading some reviews, it’s been really amazing.
NATALIE: It’s been a very long year, been very isolated. It’s a strange feeling to finally have this out.
What was the creative process with Ben Harper?
NATALIE: That was a blast. Ben was incredibly open to letting us see out our vision. For me, as somebody who arranges for all the instruments, I play a bit of almost everything on the record except for the strings and the trumpet. I’d always brought those players in on stage and he gave us so much range to be able to…
TAYLOR: Explore any type of arrangement that Natalie was coming up with. That was really cool. It was a playground in there with him because he’s somebody that plays a lot of instruments, would jump from the piano with me then say “oh, I hear a bassline on this.” He’d jump on bass, jump on xylophone. We took turns, really running around having fun in the studio for these songs. It was a blast, he played on almost all of them.
“Road Rage” celebrates women’s strength, what does it mean to be able to shed light on things happening in the world right now.?
TAYLOR: It was really interesting during the #MeToo Movement when all these women were coming out with their stories. It’s very rare to meet someone that doesn’t have a similar experience or horrific experience. I was sexually assaulted, I remember thinking “whoa, it is okay to say something about these experiences.” Someone randomly posted on Twitter: “think about how your life would be different if men had a curfew.” You’re scrolling right? There’s a lot of noise on the internet and you read this thing. For Natalie and I: oh whoa! Actually, our lives would be a lot different if men had a curfew.
NATALIE: [laughs] Sorry, it’s funny to me but then we started thinking about how often we think about how much that impacts our safety both as women and as a couple, as queer women. To address that, it was really important for us to step out of it and invite all these incredibly powerful, brilliant, talented women to come and give their interpretation of this story. Every woman has an experience with this at some different level.
TAYLOR: On some level from being catcalled in the streets to the horrific cases like what happened with me. It’s so important for us to not give them any notes even. “Hey, this is the song and we’d love for you to tape yourself, that’s it. Whatever it makes you feel, feel free to express it.” That was really, really awesome to be a part of. To edit them, because a lot of these women sent us several different clips of them, it was such a fun project to do.
NATALIE: We ended up having 21 different women, including Debra Wilson from Mad TV, and Rachel True, and Luenell. It was incredible. We’re really proud of how that turned out. It doesn’t have to be necessarily our story. That’s the goal of music: you’re sharing something that hopefully a lot of people feel connected to. You’re getting to be a voice for more than yourself.
You guys both have overcome your own struggles. How is music a coping mechanism for both of you?
NATALIE: For both of us, one of the reasons we bonded so much over music was it wasn’t just an escape, it was catharsis. It’s one thing to go through abuse, it’s another that especially women feel like they’re not allowed to express their anger. You’re not allowed to really be clear about those emotions, especially growing up. Music for me was both an escape, but also catharsis and validation. In its best form, music can really validate what you’re going through, how you’re feeling, and making sure you know you’re not alone in the world. That’s what we hope Hey, King! does for other people, what music did for us.
Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
NATALIE: Oh my goodness. What goals don’t we have? We want to do everything. [laughs]
TAYLOR: We do want to do everything. For me though, I really want this music to reach the people that need to hear it. That’s my #1 goal because even before I joined the band, Natalie’s songs were my soundtrack to LA. They’re so powerful, so inspiring, and exactly how she worded, it was validating. That’s something I definitely didn’t have as a kid. My mom was a drug and alcohol addict, my dad was out of the picture every single year. It’d be a flip of a coin whether he’d be there or not. Music was my best friend, then film or TV characters, those were the families that I grew up with. For me, my biggest school with Hey King! and this album is that it reaches the people that need it.
Anything else you want to let the people that let people know?
NATALIE: We’re excited to get back on the road this year when it opens up. We’d love people to check out the music videos. During the pandemic, that was our main source of…
NATALIE: To express ourselves and express our music. We have 7 music videos that came out with this record.
TAYLOR: That we both got to co-direct, edit, and put out. We got to have complete control over the music video assets.
NATALIE: The music videos are really cool and they all have their own little atmosphere and story.