[INTERVIEW] Sullivan King Reveals Inspiration Behind 'Thrones of Blood' Album + Experiences with Fatherhood
Following the announcement of his highly anticipated LP Thrones of Blood, producer-rockstar Sullivan King is gearing up for another massive year in his career. With his highly-skilled vocals and guitar riffs, King has carved out his niche within the dubstep space– delivering an extraordinary blend between metal and bass music at sold-out shows and festivals worldwide. As one of the most sought-after dubstep acts in the industry, Sullivan King reflects on his nuanced production style, as well as his rise to notoriety and career choices he has made along the way.
Check out iEDM’s exclusive interview with Sullivan King below.
iEDM: You are about to release the “Thrones of Blood” single from your upcoming Thrones of Blood album. What is the story behind the album, and how does the single correlate with the larger vision you set forth?
Sullivan King: The vision really was to create what feels like the perfect amalgamation of my favorite pieces of music I’ve released thus far, but in a new moment and era. I wanted to less so put out some avant garde, abstract style record (kind of what my sophomore record ‘LOUD’ was leaning towards with the rock/metal focus) and more concentrate on writing what felt like the most confident and satisfying record that I’ve built the courage to make over years of shows, touring, writing, rewriting, etc.
iEDM: Did you derive inspiration from any particular people or life events for any of the Thrones of Blood tracks?
Sullivan King: Definitely. I’m always getting inspiration from my life, especially with becoming a father this year. Life has changed soooo much since I started the first demos in 2020 for this album!
iEDM: You’ve previously mentioned that the first iteration of Lost Lands in 2017 was your first festival booking. This past year, you were honored as Excision’s counterpart in his highly anticipated back-to-back headline set. What were the feelings behind this full-circle moment? How has Excision Presents impacted your career and outlook on the industry?
Sullivan King: Man…. I can’t even begin to describe how that felt! It’s far beyond just being a huuuuge honor to get to close out the biggest Bass Music festival in the world, alongside one of the best to ever do it in Dubstep, but Jeff (Excision) and I have become really great friends so it didn’t at all feel awkward or as if we were just doing it for the hype or anything. It really was because we just love making and playing music together and felt it would be insanely fun! The entire Excision Presents team has done far more for me than just put me on lineups and what not, they’ve basically become family. It might sound a little Vin Diesel-y but it’s true hahaha, they are truly what makes the “industry” side of things not just feel like business, but how you hope the behind-the-scenes life should be.
iEDM: As both a talented producer and vocalist, you have released several massive collaborations with the likes of Subtronics, Excision, SLANDER, Riot Ten, Kayzo, Ray Volpe, and more. How do you typically approach the creative process of a collab? Do you tend to focus primarily on vocals or production and sound design?
Sullivan King: It’s always different! I never focus on one thing when going into a collab, just where I feel I fit the most for that moment. In the case of the Subtronics collab, “Take Flight”, I had written an idea which was basically the first drop, and he liked that the most of all the demos I sent to him initially. We then got on a Facetime and did most of the song together in an evening, throwing ideas back ‘n forth, I did vocals, guitar parts, he worked on melodies, etc. The whole thing came together in literally less than a day or two. And with Kayzo, it was the opposite - he sent me a drop idea, and I worked on a 2nd drop, guitar parts and what not, and then we had Papa Roach come in on it. I just really go off what I feel and hear I can accomplish and lend to the piece.
iEDM: Since you’ve announced a massive tour following the release of your LP, are there any cities or venues that you’re especially excited to return to or play for the first time?
Sullivan King: OHHHH yeah, insanely stoked to be going back to Mission Ballroom in Denver for 2 nights this time, 2 nights at Palladium, the Factory in Dallas, House of Blues in Boston, Radius in Chicago.. But really excited for a lot of cities I’ve never headlined in before, like New Haven, CT, Missoula, MT, Spokane, Boise. The entire run is gonna be wicked.
iEDM: Monstercat is one of the most acclaimed long-standing labels in the dance music industry. How did you decide that Monstercat was the right fit to support your new album?
Sullivan King: I’ve always felt that Monstercat was incredibly open to all genres and that was comforting since I don’t like to really stick to any one style. We all get along great and have the same focus and vision for this record, and that’s what’s most important.
iEDM: As a new father, have you noticed a difference in your motivation to travel for long periods of time or ability to ‘get in the zone’ on stage? What has changed for you music-wise after starting your family?
Sullivan King: Actually, it’s pretty interesting, because since I now have less time to sit in the studio for long periods of time, I’m way more focused on writing and getting from point A to point B on a track or idea. There’s less time to question and deliberate what to do or where to go on a song. I also have been writing way more on the road than I used to so that I don't feel as bad if I come home and don’t work on music like I used to! As for being on the road, I still love touring more than anything and that hasn’t slowed down, but I definitely am planning my travels and schedule differently so I can maximize my time at home with family.
iEDM: Social media is an increasingly effective method for music marketing, but can quickly become a double-edged sword. How do you approach your relationship with your fans on social platforms?
Sullivan King: It’s an incredible weapon for marketing and getting your name out there! Personally I love being connected with fans and getting to be involved in the daily conversations they’re having and getting to respond to them, getting to text people direct and wish them happy birthday, etc. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you focus on and put energy into. I pay attention to what I can positively bring to them and to the world to hopefully make their days a bit better, especially since I have a platform and voice that people look up to that allows me to do that, ya know?
iEDM: Similarly to giants such as Skrillex, Jackal, and Borgore, you began your musical journey with metal. What are the parallels between bass music and metal? Do you believe there is a cause for the surprisingly common pipeline between the two genres?
Sullivan King: I think there’s the logical side to this and the emotional side. Logically speaking, they’re both fucking loud as shit hahahha. They pack a big punch and just let you know that they are there to be heard and paid attention to when they are on. On the Emotional side of things, I think they both create a conquering excitement for people. With whatever you’re doing, I feel like both of them just give people that extra 10% of energy to push into whatever they are doing and that’s what’s so awesome to me.
iEDM: Ultra Music Festival recently surprised fans by booking Jauz B2B Svdden Death. Is there an artist– with a completely different style from your own– that you would love to participate in a B2B set with?
Sullivan King: Oh damn, I love this question! I would love to play with Dabin, Said The Sky, or Rezz! I feel like there’s so much room to create incredible sets with all of them that could take people on a wicked journey, and I personally just love what they all do, would be rad.
iEDM: Aside from your Thrones of Blood album & tour, do you have any other exciting plans for 2023?
Sullivan King: Sooooo many festivals, lots of international stuff, and even more music towards the end of the year! 2023 is gonna be insane, but we’re always looking even further ahead…
Buy tickets to Sullivan King's Thrones of Blood Tour HERE!
Photos courtesy of Sullivan King and Monstercat
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