Raw Emotions Are Kingsley’s Rocket Fuel

“This album basically takes you on the process of my first heartbreak.”

Kingsley (Summer Luu)

The story of how Kingsley got her name goes back to when she was only 12 years old. Already in search of a pop-star moniker, and encouraged by her mother to choose her own unique name, she decided to research her options.

At first, she was unimpressed with the girl names that came up. “So I started Googling boy names, and literally this name Kingsley pops up on the screen,” the singer-songwriter says. “It felt like Chicago when they’re singing ‘Roxie.’ I was like, this is it.”

It was an auspicious choice. Today, Kingsley, who released her sophomore album, Crying On Holidays, in May 2021, sings with the depth and poise that befit her name’s royal connotations. Yet her music deals in emotional vulnerability more than monarchical indifference—Holidays is a breakup album of sorts.

“I was a player. I didn’t believe in love,” Kingsley says of the years leading up to Crying On Holidays. “And I finally fell in love. This album basically takes you on the process of my first heartbreak.”

Recorded by Sean Berahmand of Sunset Digs Studio and produced by a roster of Portland collaborators, including Haley Johnson and several members of the band Motor Vue, the album ranges from emo to downright angry. Tracks such as “Loving You” and “Therapy” renounce Kingsley’s past relationship through introspective lines like “Was I always this fucked up/Or did you push me to be?/See loving you/Worst thing I could do.”

The rawness of Kingsley’s lyrics is a product of her songwriting process. “It’s usually mid-argument I can hear what the song is going to be,” she says. “After I would get in a fight with my ex, I would go to my car and just scribble whatever I was feeling.”

That’s the heart of Kingsley’s music: naming and processing difficult feelings by singing about them.

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