“Being in the room with him just warming up gave me chills”: Kings Daughters’ Isabel Lysell on working with Brian May

Endorsed by Orange and working alongside none other than Brian May for their debut single, this hotly tipped trio are reimagining rock music in their own image.

With legendary Queen guitarist Brian May taking the reigns as producer on their debut single, it’s easy to see why Kings Daughters are quickly being talked about in the upper echelons of guitar music. Formed in London, the all-female trio are aiming to push the boundaries of what is expected of a modern rock band, dealing with anxiety and mental health issues.

Lead vocalist and lyricist Talia Dean, who has dealt with anxiety for a number of years, took solace in her writing process and noted that advice and guidance from her peers inspired the song. The band will also donate 10 per cent of each purchase of the song to Mind, a leading mental health charity in England and Wales. Below, guitar player Isabell Lysell details how it all began, from early 12-bar blues beginnings to working with legendary artists and dealing with the impact of Covid-19…

Get up - Kings Daughters

What first inspired you to pick up a guitar?

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“It was my best friends’ idea at the time, we were ten and we did everything together so I kinda just went along with it. After taking lessons for about a year it was a very simple 12-bar blues that sparked something in me and from then on guitar was my passion.”

Tell us about your main guitar and pedal setup…

“My main guitar is a Gibson ES-333 – I’ve never found a guitar that just fits me quite like this one.  And I love the soulful tone of a hollow body… I definitely have a thing for the vintage sound. My board is currently a mess of old 80s modulation pedals and a few too many ODs and distortions. I’m really into my Pearl analogue Chorus at the moment and I’m loving the TC Spark booster in its subtle glory. But the [Pickletech] Berkatron is my secret weapon. I like to walk a thin line between slick soul and total apocalypse.”

Kings Daughters Izzy
Image: Desmond Murray

What do you sound like and what’s interesting about your approach to playing guitar?

“I am not a guitar hero, couldn’t shred to save my life, but I have a lot of feel and flow in my playing. I am really just a writer and the guitar is my voice. I think of my sound as a mix of blues and R&B with a hint of grunge.”

How did you develop a relationship with Brian May?

“Brian has been a friend of my bandmate Talia’s for some time and he’s always been supportive of our music in one way or another. But when he heard our demo for Get Up for the first time, he was super eager to get involved so he invited us over to his studio and that’s how the collaboration started!”

What was it like to work with him on your debut single?

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“From a guitarist’s point of view obviously mind-blowing – I will never forget the day we put down his guitars; being in the room with him just warming up gave me chills and that’s when I realised, I am actually in the presence of a legend! It was also very humbling, he taught us a lot about patience and perfectionism. He works the old school way and takes his time making sure each take is the best it could possibly be.”

You’re also an Orange ambassador. What is it about Orange Amps that works with your technique and playing style?

“I’ve been a huge Orange fan for years, so I am honoured to be an Orange Ambassador. I play the Tremlord 30 and it’s a dream. I really need a kick-ass clean sound from my amp and the Tremlord is just beautifully crisp and deliciously creamy. I use a lot of colour and extensions on my chords, so I like a lot of clarity.”

Kings Daughters Izzy
Image: Nic Slade

What’s your most memorable gig and when can we see you play next?

“My favourite gigs are the small sweaty ones where the room is packed, and the floor is sticky. The ones where it feels like the artists and the audience are in it together. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has cancelled all gigs indefinitely so the only way to perform right now is virtually on mine and the bands socials. We’re hoping to go on tour next year though!”

When’s your next record out?

“We are currently finishing off the last bits for our second single which will be out by the end of summer, and the album is in the process of being written/recorded. The tracklist hasn’t been set in stone yet but my current favourite work in progress is a song called Moon, which I could best describe as Soundgarden meets Christina Aguilera in a ballad with some eerie Radiohead-y guitar vibes.”

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

“Hopefully still here, still working and still learning. Making new sounds and playing out of my comfort zone. I would actually love to work on cinematic music, maybe in 10 years’ time I’ll be a film composer.”

Finally, tell us something interesting about yourself that has nothing to do with guitar…

“I collect rocks and crystals they are scattered all across my flat. And I keep a lot of plants. I love anything earthy or botanical, I live in a busy area of London, so I try to keep nature close to me any way I can.”

Kings Daughters debut single, Get Up, produced by Brian May, is out now

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