BY Bart Mendoza
Singer Sandi King is seemingly everywhere these days, one of the area’s busiest musicians, providing backing vocals in numerous musical combos. Now, after more than a decade as a key part of the area’s music community, King has released her first solo single, “Frozen Heart.”
Currently based in El Cajon, King has been a San Diegan since the age of three. “My mom grew up here,” she recalled. “Originally my parents moved us back to San Diego in ’85 when I was 3 years old, and I grew up in Santee. After high school I moved around to Las Vegas, Orange County, San Francisco, and LA. I decided to move back to San Diego in 2012 and try to make a go at music full time. I haven’t looked back since.”
It’s a rare week that doesn’t see King on at least a couple of stages and doing studio work. “My musical projects are many,” she said in a bit of understatement. For starters, there’s the King Taylor Project with her husband, Joshua Taylor. “I am also in his solo project, Joshua Taylor and the Unscene, as well as a side project we do with our friend and drummer Tony Econom called Side Street, where we have a monthly residency at Humphreys Backstage Live aimed at backing and featuring other great musicians.” In addition to those, King regularly performs with several other original acts, including Jeff Berkley and the Banned, Jonny Tarr, and Astra Kelly. She has also done quite a bit of session work. Most recently, King can be heard on Josh Weinstein’s new album, Mind the Gap, and she is a guest vocalist on Wayne Riker’s latest release, Alphabetical Blues Bash: Vol. 2.
Though she had an idea for a solo project, it was band leader Jonny Tarr that prompted her first solo recording. “Frozen Heart” was a birthday gift “ticket” for one fully recorded and produced song to release under my own name so I could begin to establish a presence as Sandi King the solo artist,” said King. The track features
Miles Clowminzer (drums), Tristan Faulk-Webster (theremin), and Keli Ross-Ma’u (steel pan). “Everything else is fully Jonny Tarr, including the backing vocals to my lead vocal,” King said. “Jonny fully produced his last album, The Rules, and wanted to start producing for other people. He and I had a few quick brainstorming sessions about the concept and lyrics for the song and he ran with it!”
Was it different working with Tarr as a producer rather than band mate?
“Working with Jonny Tarr is a dream,” King said. “He is, first and foremost, one of my best friends. Secondly, I am just a fan of his music. Working in his band is always a good time surrounded by great musicians, and working with him as a producer is an extension of that. He works quickly, so you gotta keep up, and he just has ideas nonstop, so you have to be able to flow with him. His instincts and musical sensibilities jive really well with mine so that made the whole process really smooth.”
With her single, “Frozen Heart,” now out, King plans to follow through with a special tribute album. “My initial idea for a solo release was to record a tribute album to my dad, Ron King, who passed in early 2021.
He was a wicked trumpet player and the main reason I have music in my life, professionally and in my heart. I grew up with jazz around the house and when I was ten years old started singing with the big band he was playing in.” King plans to release a tribute album of jazz standards “but reimagined by myself and the incredible musicians I will have on this record,” King said. “I plan to record at Satellite Studio with Jeff Berkley sometime in the next few months and the core band will include Joshua Taylor, Josh Weinstein, Tony Econom, Harley Magsino, and Jonny Tarr.”
With a decade of music making in San Diego behind her, what’s King’s favorite thing about being a musician? “Community and Expression,” she said. “I am constantly blown away by the community of musicians around me, and I delight in the career I have built for myself being a part of so many amazing artists’ projects. I truly do get the biggest thrill from a support roll, be it backing vocals or behind the scenes, which I do a whole lot of for other artists. Which is why it is a big deal for me to step out and take the spotlight for a bit. I enjoy that part as well, but this community really is what keeps me going so strong. And for the expression of oneself, music is unmatched. The ability to share with people something so personal, yet so globally understood as straight up expression is something special that I don’t take for granted for a moment in this life.”
Upcoming plans for King include more live shows and more recordings. “I am focusing on getting the tribute album to my pops rolling behind the scenes with the band,” she said. “And, there are rumblings of making more tunes with Jonny so don’t be surprised to see more of this as well!”
Side Street’s next residency show is at Humphreys Backstage Live on January 24, with guests Stacy Antonel, Ken Dow & Josh Weinstein. www.kingtaylorproject.com