Emily King Talks Insects, Independence, And Her New Album

Photo by Bao Ngo

She also reveals what led to her collaboration with Sara Bareilles

When I heard Emily King's voice over the phone, it sounded different than I'd expected. Perhaps because I was used to her ultra-cool, raspy singing vocals, I thought she'd sound reserved, but on that early morning, her voice was as warm and soft as clothes freshly out of a dryer—which might just have been because she was talking to me from a laundromat, where she sat waiting for her clothes ahead of her show in NYC later that night.

King was to be a part of the grand opening of New York's newest venue, The Shed in Hudson Yards; it looks like something from a sci-fi movie, with a rolling hood that can expand or diminish the size of the space in a minute's notice. King played on the third evening of "Soundtrack of America," which saw a diverse roster of musicians who offered a bit of a tease as to what was possible with the new space.

"I didn't quite understand exactly the magnitude of this whole thing when I first heard about it," King admitted. "What I first heard was that Quincy Jones and Steve McQueen and Greg Phillinganes were teaming up to do something, and that was really exciting for me to be a part of anything that they do, because I'm such a big fan of all of their work." It wasn't until she stepped foot into the building—which she says felt like she was "in an airport" due to the immense height of the ceilings—that the importance hit her. "I realized that this is a whole new neighborhood they just built in the city, and they're celebrating a new part of the city, which… I'm very proud to be a native New Yorker."

And in celebration of the city and its new chapter, she invited one of the people who made her a native New Yorker to join her onstage: her father, Marion Cowings, a renowned jazz singer, who performed with her for one of her three songs. "When I first heard about the theme of the night, he came into my head—he raised me with the music of America, and he's kept me in touch with my roots through music," King said. The song they performed together was an old jazz standard, "This Is Always," and her father sang words on top of the horn solo, "which they used to do a lot back in the day," King pointed out. "I'm really excited, he gives a little be-bop twist to it."

To write her recent album, Scenery, though, King took a step away from her NYC roots and headed two hours upstate for, well, a change of scenery. A brief mention of the fact that I hail from upstate, and King is far more interested in learning about that for a moment. Suddenly, we're laughing over the diversity of bugs that come crawling out the moment the temperature rises, and how they're still better than cockroaches. "I can even handle spiders," King said. "But roaches, I never could get used to them. My grandma was pretty tough about it. She'll just grab them with her hands. That's some farmer stuff right there."

Beyond bug-life, there was a lot for King to learn upstate, even just on a practical level. King explained, "Different appliances, different bills—I was getting bills that I'd never gotten before: oil, septic, car insurance. There was a big learning curve, and it was really exciting in that way." Though she'd experienced independence in more urban ways, King said, "I just felt really independent; this rush of excitement when I pulled into my driveway and I thought, Man, I can just sit here in my driveway, and no one will give me a ticket!"

The newfound independence and proximity to the insect kingdom definitely played into the making of her record. "We recorded it in the house we rented," King told me, "and one of the first things we had to do was wait for the crickets to stop chirping. And then in the wintertime, it was freezing, so we would turn on the heat for four hours before we'd [be able] to start recording."

The record was just as much of a return, in another way, as it was a departure from what King knew. Though she'd self-released her previous record, her Grammy-nominated East Side Story was released on J Records, though she was dropped from the label soon after. For Scenery, she once again signed with a label, but ATO Records proved to be much more hands-off with the creative process—just the way King likes it. "I'm used to not having anyone tell me what to do, and once you get used to that, you can't really turn back," she laughed. "It was really special time, just being up there in that house, and being able to drive and listen to the demos [on our way] to a friend's house to have dinner on this country road… It seemed like a more healthy way to have a fresh perspective on the music that we were making, rather than sitting in a dark room all the time."

And everyone who knows King trusts fully that she'll produce beautiful work when left to her own devices. When I chatted with her collaborator Sara Bareilles just the week before I spoke with King, Bareilles couldn't help but gush over King's talent. "I'm one of her biggest fans," Bareilles said. "I talk about her in every interview. Every time I went in with a label, I'm like: 'And then I wrote this next song with Emily King. Do you know about Emily King? And if you don't, please pull out your phones and let's Google her together.'"

King joked to me, "I told her, you gotta stop talking about me!" She and Bareilles have one of those friendship-mentorships, it seems, that are too sweet to be anything but true. "I call her Beans," King laughed, "She's honestly been my angel and my little life guru the past few years. I'll come to her with a problem, and she's just so good at mentoring people." King had always hoped to write with Bareilles, but when Bareilles needed a bridge for a song on her new album Amidst the Chaos, King still never expected her to run with the one she provided. "Next thing I know I'm in the studio, and she's singing the bridge, and I just got chills," King said.

As we prepared to say goodbye, King let me know she was excited to keep writing—after she pulled off her performance later that night at The Shed and her subsequent stops on tour, and, you know, finished her laundry. Before we hung up, I wished her luck with her gig that evening, and her mind returned to the mind-boggling nature of the venue she'd be reentering. "How do pigeons not get stuck in there?" she wondered. "It's gonna happen! No doubt." Even as her scenery had changed back to an urban setting, it seemed King was now always looking out for the wildlife around her.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.