Hailing from a small town of New London, Wisconsin, Pollux King first began singing and writing songs for all the flowers in the yard by the age of 4. Not surprisingly, it wouldn’t be long before music became her primary focus. Her passion for songwriting would lead this small-town girl to Los Angeles to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Dedicating herself fully to her craft, she poured her blood, sweat and tears into searching for her unique creative voice. The countless hours she dedicated to her endeavors ultimately paid off in spades when she began working alongside seasoned producers Chris and Vie Kooreman (Dope Dragunz) to create her undeniably powerful self-titled EP. Showcasing her depth as an artist, from the arena rock anthem “Score to Settle,” to the cathartic ballad “Anybody,” to a dark, ethereal reimagining of the Donna Lewis classic “I Love You Always Forever,” Pollux, like her namesake, is ready to shine a bright light into the universe.
Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Pollux King for an in-depth Q&A. In the interview, this star on the rise opens up about early days of her career, finding her creative voice, the lessons learned along the way, and much more!
What are you first memories of music?
The Beatles and Michael Jackson. Jumping up on the stool in the living room and singing “Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, Hey Mickey!” Singing to everything from the 50s and 60s in the car with my Mom.
How did you first start getting involved with the arts?
The community theater. My Mom founded it, so I was always there during rehearsals, etc. Once I was old enough, I started acting and singing in whatever I could get.
What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice as a young artist?
Truthfully, I’m just finding it now. Growing up getting bullied so badly, I tried desperately NOT to be myself. I found this kind of unhappy medium. I was there and I couldn’t really hide my true self, but there was a cover over all of the most outrageous parts. I severely dimmed myself down so that I could try to make other people more comfortable around me and not be picked on or hurt or looked at so strangely. I unconsciously stayed that way for a long, long time. The best analogy I can think of would be how they used to put plastic on furniture. You can see the furniture, you can touch it, but you’re never truly getting through to the real fabric. It’s always just out of reach. I lived like that for so long out of some very intense self-preservation. I’d started working on it slowly, but it was definitely a process. Once I found these safe people to be around to really explore and create, it really started melting off. Now that I’m allowing myself to be more vulnerable in so many different ways, I’m just starting to find the tip of my creative iceberg, so to say.
Who were some of the people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?
I’m sure there are thousands. Most anyone I’ve spent any time with has shaped me in some way or another, and I love you all. Except for a few. You know who you are. Your songs are coming, haha.
I’m sure you get asked about your influences quite a bit, so I wanted to change it up a bit. What springs to mind when you think of the albums that impacted you the most at key points in your life?
I remember when The Beatles Anthology came out, listening to it nonstop, and falling in love with some new songs I’d never heard. “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.” Definitely cried to those. My Mom has a massive record collection, so I suppose really bits of a hundred different things. I definitely remember discovering the ‘Thriller’ album. I don’t really remember a lot of full albums. More artists and songs. I remember being madly in love with Guns N’ Roses, Dr. Dre, Aerosmith, Ludacris. Classic rock, hip hop, rap… I’m gonna have to call this quits or I’ll go on for 20 pages.
At what point did you realize a career in music was something you had to pursue?
As soon as I was born? [laughs] I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’ve pretended to try other things because music always seemed so unreachable, too hard, too much work. I spent a lot of time self-sabotaging. I also just never found the right person to make music with. I think finding the right writing partners is as hard, if not harder, than finding a romantic partner. It’s something so specific and intimate. You need to be able to be so vulnerable with these people, and they need to understand you and your vision.
Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?
No. I can’t do anything else without being completely, utterly, DRAMATICALLY miserable. I’ve always had the “normal life fantasy” where I’d live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Open a flower shop and change my name to Rose. Have a big old farmhouse on the edge of town and feed all the cute wildlife. Sounds so nice and peaceful… But I know I’d be miserable after a while.
You originally hail from New London, Wisconsin and ultimately made the jump to Los Angeles. How did that experience impact you as an artist?
Immensely. The living I’d done in the first half of my life there is vastly different from this half I’ve lived in LA. They’re such different worlds. In New London, I can go sit quietly by the river and not have to even hear another person for hours. I can walk to Dairy Queen with my nephews and sit outside in the woods with my Mom and Dad. It’s quiet, peaceful, and makes me feel more introspective. In LA, I can hop in a car and 15 minutes later, be at the Hollywood Bowl watching bands and singers I’ve been obsessed with my whole life. This city is just one, gigantic paradox. I love it and I hate it. It’s home. It makes me feel excited and terrified at the same time. That’s definitely a bit more juicy for song writing.
The music industry isn’t an easy place to make a living, what has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?
Other artists. Other fans. Watching the way people respond to an artist who’s being unconditionally honest, the mass healing that can happen. I’m not sure a lot of people notice that. One person saying, “Hey, I’m having a really hard day because I struggle with body dysmorphia/depression/addiction, etcetera…” can really change someone’s life. Seeing someone they love and respect dealing with the same things they are, especially things that have historically been swept under the rug, can make such a huge impact. Knowing that it’s ok to not be perfect. That you’re worthy of love. That’s inspiring as hell to me.
You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. In your opinion, how did that drive end up in your DNA?
It’s been a STRUGGLE. I’ve got horrendous depression, and some days it’s hard to even brush my damn teeth. When I feel good and am inspired, I’m a workaholic. I LOVE what I do. Deeply. The drive comes from it simply being what I’m supposed to do. I have no drive to wash my damn dishes, I’ll tell you that. But to make music and connect to people? Never ending.
What lessons did you learn early on in your career that continue to resonate?
Don’t ask people for advice that aren’t where you want to be. You get a lot of bad advice from people who either don’t know any better, or don’t want to see you succeed. Surround yourself with people who truly believe in you, who have the same drive and work ethic. And DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU YOU CAN’T CREATE THE ART THAT FUELS YOU.
You’ve been working with producer Chris Kooreman. How did you two initially cross paths?
Through a healer, actually. I was struggling to find the right people to make music with. I never found the right fit, and I was feeling so defeated. The person ended up giving me Chris’ card and I messaged him maybe an hour later. We facetimed that evening for over and hour and just clicked. We have the same kind of heart, and we want to make music for the same reasons. Just a few weeks after, Chris, his wife Vie (they co-produce), and I got started on the music we’re releasing now. We also worked with Lawrence August, who’s a brilliant lyricist (and singer). He helped so much when I would get stuck in my head.
What have they brought out in you in a creative sense?
They both really helped me understand that we can do whatever the hell we want. We can make any sounds, genres, styles, anything. And to have FUN. I tend to get so damn serious about it and forget that it’s supposed to be joyful. The majority of the time, anyway. It’s been so helpful to have a group of people that understand me and want to help me get all of these things out that have been stuck inside forever.
You recently released a video for your single “Anybody.” What can you tell us about the song and what it means to you?
When I was growing up, I wanted to know there were people out there like me. That even if I WAS a freak, that there were other freaks who would understand me and love me for who I was. I just felt so alone and hurt all of the time. There was no release from that feeling. Now that we’re able to communicate so directly with each other, at all times, over different time zones and countries, there’s just no excuse for us not to share these things with each other. We don’t have to be miserable and alone. There are people out here just like me. Just like you. They get it.
Songwriting is often intensely personal and allows one to bare their soul in many ways. “Anybody” is a great example of this. Was it difficult to get the point where you could share your emotions so freely?
Absolutely. I definitely still held back a little. It’s been a learning process. I sat with Chris and Vie and told them some of the stories of what kids did to me. We all shared a lot of very vulnerable things with each other. It was hard, and it got me really depressed for a while. But it was necessary for what we needed to do. I’m happy to have it out now.
What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?
It varies here and there, depending on what we’re up to. Usually I’ll say “Chris, Chris! I have an idea and I want it to sound like this song made a baby with this song, but with a hip hop beat and some strings!” And bless his heart, he says, “Hell yeah! Let’s do it!” [laughs] He’ll make a little skeleton of something and we’ll go from there.
Inspiration can strike at any moment. Do you have any specific processes or methods for logging your ideas?
Not one. I wish I was more organized about that stuff, but I’m absolutely not. I have about 7000 notebooks strewn about the house, with who knows what in them at this point. It’ll be two lines of a song idea, then a grocery list, followed by something I’m supposed to remember from therapy. Then maybe a (hideous – I cannot draw) scribble of Gilbert (my old man cat). I get ideas that pop up, but they’re usually gone so fast I don’t have the chance to get them down.
You recently dropped a cover of the Donna Lewis track, “I Love You Always Forever.” It’s a killer track and such an awesome take on the iconic track. What can you tell us about the process of bring it to life?
Chris and I both really love dark, sexy, nitty gritty music. We like to make things a bit unrecognizable. Chris and Vie made the moody music, then sent it my way. It was different and fun, the first cover we’d done. We have a few more in the works.
What genres do you gravitate to as a music fan?
Yes. All of them. All the music. From every corner of the world. Everything has something special and beautiful to it. How could you NOT appreciate a little bit of everything?
Any guilty pleasures?
I LOVE One Direction, and I don’t feel even a tiny bit guilty about it. #harrystylesforever
What was the first song you ever wrote and what was the last song you were working on?
I’m sure the first song I wrote was babbling to the flowers and grass when I was 3 or 4 years old. As for the last song, the only thing I can tell you is it’s another cover.
How do you view your evolution as a songwriter?
I’ve gotten a lot more vulnerable and ballsy. I used to want to only write about sex, which is FUN, but if it’s only there because you’re too scared to write honestly about other stuff, it loses a lot of heart.
A career in music has a lot of moving parts. What do you consider the biggest challenges you face as an independent artist moving forward?
I mean, I’m not very good at bullshitting answers so I’ll be honest. Mental health and money. Two of the big taboo things we’re not supposed to talk about, right? To really get your music pushed out and heard, it costs a lot of money. A lot. Every single song. Not including how much it already cost to MAKE the music. People don’t really understand that part of it. There are so many incredible artists that have to give up. People always ask, you’re so good, why would you stop? People can’t afford thousands of dollars every song for the years it takes to start a career. They don’t see all of the behind the scenes. It can get really stressful and take a huge toll on your mental health when the thing you love, and the thing you’re good at isn’t taken seriously. When no one wants to pay you to exist. It’s a shitty part of making any kind of art. You should be able to make a living if you’re a good painter. You should be able to make a living if you’re a great photographer, actor, writer, whatever. It’s gotten to the point where it’s thought of as pathetic to want to be an artist and give up a “respectable career”. Society is so broken when it comes to priorities. When everything is falling apart, or everything is coming together, we look to art. Art is what drives us. It comforts us and lifts us up. What would we do without it? I really hope this starts shifting, and we can give everyone respect, no matter what their calling is.
As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of music. What excites about the music today?
Everything. It’s easy to get caught up in negative stuff about it. But truly, it’s such a new landscape with so many opportunities. It’s changed so dramatically, even in the past 5 years. You can be so much more honest. You can connect so easily with people. So many things to be excited about.
Listening to the songs you have released, it’s clear that you aren’t an artist who is easily nailed down. You are able to blend genres in unexpected ways. Are there any specific musical territories that you find yourself drawn to or are eager to explore?
I love everything, really. I do have a sweet spot for rock blended with hip hop. They fit together so perfectly and really add that little bit of extra oomph that really makes me have some feelings.
Where do you see yourself headed in the future — with short and long term?
Short term, hopefully out of my house and back into the studio! It’s just not the same from home. Definitely have a new song coming for you this summer. Long term, getting back out in the world and touring. Being able to squeeze the hell out of people and tell them how perfect they are.
You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?
Be yourself. Be honest. Do what feels RIGHT for you. And be patient. You don’t need to have everything figured out and done by the time you’re 21. You really don’t. Believe in what a bad ass you are, and go take over the fucking world.