For his recent self-titled album, King Eddie frontman Justin Maike had the goal of creating something “as D.I.Y. as possible, while still sounding polished and nice.” So he made the album using the resources he had in front of him, from recording in a haunted house in Detroit to hanging blankets on the walls so he could record in his basement in Iowa.
The sound for the album itself was D.I.Y. as well, because it involved Justin doing the writing and then seeking help from his “et al,” as he refers to them on Facebook, to create his totally rocking final project. Justin’s girlfriend Aurora contributed her angelic, but sassy vocals, her sister Velvet played her funky bass, and their friend Angela added the dreamy keyboard. Justin’s friend Jake helped him with the intricate guitar parts, and Justin came all the way back to his hometown of Detroit to record Joe Myers’ groovy drums. “It was a group of people who had never played together all on one album, so it was hugely collaborative,” Justin explained. He said that while he loves doing the song-writing, he also really likes getting his friends involved in what he called “coloring the picture.” And with Adam Cox, the producer for Mexican Knives and The Muggs, there to help Justin with production via email, what a picture it all became. The album’s creation spanned three different states, many months, and tons of great friends.
“King Eddie” is an absolutely beautiful and poignant ride from start to finish. It combines new and insightful sounds with more old-fashioned psychedelic rock motifs from the 60’s and 70’s. So it will have you both jiving with your friends at house parties one minute and dusting off your old Jefferson Airplane albums the next.
Justin says his main influences for the album were the Doors and other bands from the days of yore, mixed with many elements from Latin and Hip-Hop music. Justin also retains his Detroit roots with a somewhat Detroit garage rock sound, especially in “Daddy (Was No Powder Keg Man).”
What separates King Eddie from other Detroit-based sounds? Well, in my opinion, two things: First, the guitar parts, and second, the vocals. The guitar sound is a unique one because it stands as what makes the album move from feel-good sounds to more profound emotional ones without making either seem out-of-place. Justin states that, “I know it’s not cool anymore to be the guitar guy,” but explains that his music relies heavily on strong guitar parts, with fluid melodies and powerful harmonies. I would even go so far as to say that the guitar carries the entire sound from start to finish and makes us feel present in each track. That presence then allows for that second element, the vocals, to shine through and make their mark on listeners. It’s clear that Justin and Aurora are dedicated vocalists and have not only perfected their own voices, but also the way in which their voices work together on the tracks. You can especially hear their lovely harmonies on my favorite track on the album, “Annie Social.” These voices add soul and character to the album and will make the songs stick in your head all day, but not at the expense of their complexity and quality. I am especially obsessed with Aurora’s voice, which I’m sure won’t offend Justin, as I will wager that he is quite obsessed himself. Her sassy and effortlessly powerful pipes are what you’re looking for, and more. Trust me. She’ll have you really grooving on track eight of the album, “Flyin.’”
So where did the idea for such a memorable work of musical art come from? Well, Justin wrote the songs while Aurora was pregnant with their daughter, Jette. So that experience alone inspired most of the songs. As Justin explains, “the pregnancy was very surreal, because from a male perspective, it doesn’t feel like much is changing.” But his lyrics reflect on more than just the pregnancy, also cataloging his pre-baby travels as well as how he and Aurora met. Finally, Justin mixed in a good amount of politics and current news, which he presents in “a purposely non-preaching way.” Moreover the album presents itself as a reflection on the most important aspects of his life inspired by an excitement in the future he had before him with his two wonderful girls.
Now that Jette is here, Justin feels that he has become a much better musician. As he explains, “you need to plan your free time out much more because you know you only have a certain amount of time.” He continues, “I considered myself to already be self-driven, but Jette really cranked up the dial on that.” And of course being able to share his gift with his girlfriend and daughter makes it all the more special.
Justin and his family are now very focused on getting settled in Denver, where he will continue to grow musically, Aurora will help with music and work on her videography, and Jette will continue being an adorable little baby girl.
Check out King Eddie’s bandcamp to download these incredible tunes!