Meet The Parents: King Khan and Saba Lou
Saba Lou is the 17-year-old daughter of King Khan (a.k.a. Arish Ahmad Khan, frontman of King Khan and the Shrines and one half of The King Khan & BBQ Show). The teen has been making music since before most of us were cognizant of our existences, and is about to release her debut album, Planet Enigma, on July 14 (via her father’s Khannibalism/Ernest Jenning Record Co.).
Before her album drops, we caught up with father/daughter to find out more about what it’s like to come from such a musical family and, of course, canned silkworm pupa taste-testing.
My name is King Khan and I am a musician/producer. I founded King Khan & the Shrines, my psychedelic R&B band, about seventeen years ago. I have many musical incarnations: the Almighty Defenders, King Khan & BBQ Show, Tandoori Knights, Black Jaspers and many more. I started a label recently called Khannibalism and am very proud to release my daughter Saba Lou’s debut LP called Planet Enigma.
Do you come from a musical background?
My mother used to play Indian classical music on headphones on her belly before I was born, so that explains how music is in my blood and was there during the early development of my brain. It also explains why I have paisley patterns in my MRI examinations.
Did you encourage your daughter to be a musician?
Saba Lou grew up around musicians; her best uncles and aunts are all in bands (Black Lips, Mary Ocher, Demon’s Claws, Mark Sultan, the Spits, the Frowning Clouds, just to name a few), so I think it was quite natural for her to pick up the guitar and start writing tunes. The best encouragement came from watching music being produced in our living room and hearing those songs on records shortly after…dreams coming true is how I like to call it.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Who did you introduce to your daughter?
There are really too many to mention, but I think my wife and I successfully transferred our infinite love and devotion for and to music to both our daughters. They saw how much music made our lives complete and put food on the table. We introduced Saba Lou to tons of music from the Ramones to Sun Ra to Eater to the Stooges to the Bee Gees to Kate Bush…the list is really endless, but one thing is for sure, we shared our passion for music with the kids and to this day love to spend hours just listening to records in the living room just like we did with our best buddies and bandmates when we were teenagers.
Did she ever go on tour with you? Any favorite memories?
Yes, Saba Lou has been to many shows with me. One fond memory was, when she was just one year old, I brought her to meet Iggy Pop while she was fast asleep and asked him if he could give her a blessing. He kissed her on the forehead and ran his fingers through her hair and told me to take good care of her, which I believe I did.
What kind of music has she taught you about?
She has taught me to despise High School Musical, Grease and Dirty Dancing way more than I would had I not been tormented by those things by her and her sister.
What’s it like having a musician for a daughter?
It’s like watching a flower bloom over and over again, but each time it blooms something new and even more miraculous comes out: a new sight or smell that makes you wish time would stand still, permanent impermanence.
Any advice for fellow parents of musicians?
Keep track about how much pot goes missing from your stash, and always buy more. A family that gets high together, stays together!
What’s it like having a musician as a dad?
It’s rad, it’s funky, it’s explosive; I couldn’t be more satisfied. There’s always something going on, new things. It really opens your mind to be exposed to so much art; the gazillion seeds planted in my brain are oozing out of my ears and it’s great. Of course, I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’d choose it over anything.
Who are some of your favorite musicians?
There’s so many! Well, I’ve loved the Ramones, Tina Turner, Buddy Holly and Sam Cooke from birth. Gino Washington was probably my first crush. I can always listen to some Mighty Hannibal, Screaming Lord Sutch and all of the extended family bands like the Frowning Clouds, the Spits and the Black Lips, just to give you a very brief overview.
When and how did you start making music?
Probably around negative nine months starting from birth. It’s been around me since I can remember. ‘I was singing before I could talk,’ a vague rendition of a lyric from the divine movie Disco Dancer, sums it up pretty nicely.
I got my guitar when I was about five, I still play her and she’s everyone’s favorite. Just a few days ago I was scratching off the thick layers of grime and fingertip grease from the frets that have collected over the past twelve years. I also went to a musical elementary school, so that’s where I learned some good basics, a little piano and some classic Spanish strumming. But there isn’t a defined date or anything; it was always around and encouraged.
Any favorite memories from your childhood with your dad?
My (non-musical) memories with Papa usually involve food. I very distinctly remember wasabi contests whenever we made sushi or canned silkworm pupa taste-testing. Also there’s the bedtime stories of Shank the treasure hunter. He is the height of cool, a mix of Hank Williams, Lucky Luke and Bear Grylls. He had dragon friends and reoccurring enemies. Last but not least, the character Bluesman (a.k.a. Papa’s hand with the onyx ring eye) has so far entertained every generation (in varying levels of cussing-intensity).
What kind of music did he expose you to?
So much, so much. Everything I’ve already mentioned, calypso from the ’40s, gospel, ’50s doo-wop, country and rock & roll, ’60s garage punk, soul and R&B, ’70s punk and funk, all of the family friends and so much more. Also most of the things I discover on my own are based on everything I’ve been shown so far.
Do you all plan on collaborating/touring?
Of course! Eventually it’s bound to happen, naturally it’s already happened. How could it not?
Any advice for kids who want to make music?
Oh man, I’m so lucky, everything’s been so easy for me so far. I mean, that fact alone is proof enough: it’s all about networking and dedication. Don’t get discouraged and find people that can groove with you, find your supportive circle and JIVE!
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