Prima Queen

Prima Queen: ‘Our favourite part of releasing music is people connecting with our stories’

The rising duo on the making of their debut EP Not The Baby, being a finalist of Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition and their on-tour love of service stations.

Dan Jones
  • By Dan Jones
  • 10 Jul 2023
  • min read

‘We found it really exciting and freeing to release a whole body of work rather than just singles,’ Prima Queen’s Louise Macphail says about the recent release of the transatlantic duo’s debut EP Not The Baby. ‘We were excited to release some more introspective songs that aren’t necessarily radio singles and are songs you’d listen to by yourself in your room, in the bath or in the car. It was fun figuring out how the songs flowed together musically and thematically, and we hope people listen to it as one experience.’

Comprised of Louise and Chicago native Kristin McFadden, Prima Queen are beginning to hit their stride after stretching their creative wings, with Not The Baby coming on the heels of a string of outstanding BBC 6 Music-supported singles. ‘It’s so nice hearing people say that they connect with the songs: that’s our favourite part of releasing music, people connecting with your stories. It makes you feel less alone in your feelings,’ Louise says. ‘[The songs] were all written at different times, but after looking at them with some more perspective we realised all the lyrics in the EP grapple with change within your most personal relationships – whether that be family, friends or lovers.’ 

Change is a central theme of Not The Baby, and it played a prominent role in the band’s songwriting process. ‘We had the song Dylan for a while and felt like it wasn’t quite right, but we didn't really know why,’ explains Louise. ‘It just wasn’t building how we wanted it to, so we tried a bunch of things with different instrumentation and arrangements, but nothing really worked. While touring with Sunflower Bean, we decided we wanted to stay at the hotel in Glasgow and work on Dylan. We suddenly came up with this idea to do a round during the last chorus, and finally it felt like it just clicked. We decided to try it out at the next show the following day, so we had to practice it in the van the whole way to the gig because it’s kind of a confusing part. As soon as we tried it on stage, we knew we’d finally finished this song.’  

Conversely, the stripped back Crow came together more quickly. ‘Once we had the violin part it just kind of fell into place,’ she explains. ‘We actually wrote this song in a park during lockdown because we weren’t allowed to go into each other's houses, so every time we hear it we think of sitting in that park.’ 

Having toured with the likes of The Big Moon, Dream Wife and Wet Leg over the past year, Prima Queen have little intention of slowing down for the rest of 2023. ‘We love touring so much. Obviously performing in front of different audiences and meeting fans is really fun and exciting, but we also just love being in the van and going to service stations,’ she laughs. ‘Everyone in the band bought each other fancy matching neck pillows, so we travel in comfort.’ 

Prima Queen played their first US shows back in March, including a slot at SXSW in Austin that was supported by PRS Foundation’s International Showcase Fund. ‘We wouldn’t have been able to go to the US without it, that’s for sure,’ says Louise. ‘It’s such an expensive trip, and since none of the gigs are paid we’re so grateful to have the ability to go. It was the best week ever. It felt particularly special since it was our first time playing on Kristin’s home soil, which is something we’ve been waiting to do for a while. We played seven shows in four days, which was crazy but so fun.’ 

The tour dates have kept on coming ever since, including a debut slot at Glastonbury that came about after the duo came runners-up in the festival’s annual Emerging Talent Competition. ‘Glastonbury has always been a big thing for me, since I grew up near there in Bristol,’ Louise adds about the prize, which also saw the band receive a £2500 Talent Development prize from the PRS Foundation. ‘I’ve been to Glastonbury lots of times doing all sorts of random and gruelling jobs just to earn my ticket, so it’s wild that we’re on the bill.’  

Prima Queen ended up playing five sets across the weekend at Glastonbury – and you wouldn’t bet against the duo returning to Worthy Farm in the years to come.