B-Sides: Christine “King” Marie

Words by Jake Krzeczowski
Photos by Roger Morales

Following a long musical journey that took her from one coast to the other, Christine Marie spent 2019 building her kingdom.

The foundation for it had been laid over the course of the last decade and culminated this past August as she took the stage at Schuba’s as a singer for the first time since 2013. What happened in between is how Christine became King Marie.

To be sure, most around the city know her as DJ King Marie. After dropping a vocal project in 2013 that didn’t quite live up to her expectations at the time, she darted east to New York City to chase her dreams. Behind, she left collaborators, producers, songwriters and a support system she’d taken for granted and would now have to build anew. Without direct access to the resources she needed to keep her singing career in motion, a pivot was made to turntables. Apartments in New York City are small. Practice spaces and studios more expensive and less accessible than back in Chicago, evolutions and adaptations are forced. Its in that environment that she became DJ King Marie and began garnering a loyal following as she skipped briefly back home and then to L.A. where she cut her teeth in the game sleeping on couches, cementing relationships and learning who she was, what she wanted and how it was attainable. Finally, ready to head back to where it all started a couple of years ago, it seemed like the perfect time and place to tie together years of experiences.

In the time since, King Marie has established herself as an authentic purveyor of culture, using her work to help build the pan-asian community within Chicago as well as continue her artistic growth. That manifested itself further this summer as she released The Prelude, her first collection of music in six years. The release of the project coincided with the development and unveiling of The Kingdom line of shirts, shoes and more.

It was at Complexcon this year that it all first began to really come together. Marie took the stage initially getting the crowd going with her naturally up-tempo DJ set before exiting the boot to sing alongside a full set of backup dancers. In that moment, with her booth within eyesight and her friends and supporters even closer, King Marie’s Kingdom had just started to come into focus. A few months later and she’s already handled her first headlining show at Schuba’s and appears well on her way to an exciting 2020. I caught up with her for a pair of interviews around her show, and below is the B-Side.

 

Do you feel as though you’ve had to wait to get to this point?

King Marie: I mean, everything happens the way its supposed to and everyone has their own journey. As an artist you’re kind of made to compare stories to try to find a relation somewhere along the line and the grass is always greener on the other side right? You always hope and maybe look to someone else trying to figure out what’s part of their strategy or their story that wasn’t applied to yours and I think its just also being young I think you always want things faster than they come. Obviously. I mean, being an American its about wanting more.

 

Do you think its different having to wait an evolve before being noticed fully for your work?

King Marie: God and the universe gave me the time when I was fully ready. I have to be emotionally, physically, mentally prepared for what the fuck was about to happen. I wouldn’t have appreciated it how I appreciate it now. When people come from throughout, when you really build from nothing to build something and stand on that foundation, I feel so much more grounded and sure of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it and who I’m doing it with. As opposed to maybe just getting that fast break and taking it for a short period of time rather than the long run.

 

What was it like pulling together everything for Complexcon?

King Marie: It’s wild. It was hard. Complexcon was hard. I didn’t know I had that in me, I don’t think I had a choice either. I just kind of had to coach myself through that experience because no one can tell you how to lead a team, design merch for everything. Not just designing merch, but at the largest scale on the largest fucking platform, its COmplexcon. I had almost like 10+ items. I had rehearsal to learn dance moves and practice singing and dancing at the same time.  Tanya Lozano from Healthy Hood, one of my best friends, she choreographed the dance, we practiced at Healthy Hood. She opened up her space to me. I hand-dyed the tees at Healthy Hood, my boy Rob was really the only one who helped me hand-dye the tees.

 

What’s the hardest part of the journey been so far?

King Marie:  I just feel so like singled out sometimes because I don’t have anybody to relate. I don’t have a friend who sings and dances and DJs and owns her own business, throws things for the community, all of it. I have friends who balance a lot of difficult things at once and we’re all in different stages of our careers and on top of that I feel like….its just hard, there’s been a lot of changes and no one gives you a guidebook you know? Like ‘you’ve reached 10k followers, haters come’ I’ve never really had haters period I’m just such a loving person. It’s just been a lot. After physically, mentally draining myself with my work and then having to deal with shit youre not prepared for and catching you at a time when its like ‘fuck man’.

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