LGBTQ Rock Group KingQueen Talk Timeless Protest Anthem

Image via Anthony Vanity

KingQueen, the LA-based LGBTQ rock group consisting of founding vocalist Sabrina Petrini, along with members Adam Gimenez on guitar, Brandon Valerino on keytar, Jake Absher on drums, and Ella G. Burgos on bass, recently released their brand-new protest anthem “Burn This Motha.”

Known for their energetic, edgy, and self-empowering lyrics, “Burn This Motha” expands on the message that we cannot accept a world that is still oppressive, destructive, and restrictive of human rights. The track is an equal rights anthem that packs so much power that award-winning filmmaker K. Rocco Shields came on board to direct and produce the music video.


Filmed at Shields’ production company Genius Produced, a captivating music video that simultaneously captures the caring spirit of KingQueen and the urgent message of the song was born.

“Burn This Motha” is the first single from the group’s forthcoming EP due out early 2023, and they took time to talk more about it with Instinct.

Let me begin by asking, how excited are you that “Burn This Motha” is finally out in the world for all to hear?

Sabrina Petrini: Oh my God. I’m so excited! I think this is the first song that we collectively wrote. It wasn’t just me coming up with an idea and saying, hey, do you want to try this out? It happened so organically, and Brandon actually got his keytar that day. So, we were like, he needs a keytar solo! But yeah, collectively, what we were feeling about the world and the things that we stand for, we were able to put all our energy into this song, and we wrote it in about 30 minutes.


Ella G. Burgos: Yeah, we came up with the baseline and the drum part, and then Sabrina started singing some stuff. Everything came together and it was a really good session.

Brandon Valerino: I’m ecstatic. This song is straight fire. It’s the best video I’ve ever been a part of, and I just love the song.


Can you talk more about the concept and inspiration behind the track?

Sabrina Petrini: All of us are part of the LGBTQ community, and I wouldn’t say that we’re hardcore activists, but with this band, we talk about a lot of things that’s going on in the world. We genuinely care about what’s going on. Like with the Colorado nightclub shooting, I remember being so emotional that day, and I wanted to say something. We did, and we honored the victims. This is just who we are, and we happened to write a song that I hope will become timeless. It’s not just bringing up a topic and then moving on. This song could literally live on forever.

I think for us, it was just very natural. Nobody was like, I don’t know if I want to say that. It’s very natural for us to stand up and be vocal about our feelings and what’s right. Even when we’re not performing, these are the issues we talk about together because we’re friends, and this song just felt right. We debuted the song at Troubadour last February, and I feel this song has brought us closer to our audience too, because our audience is basically a mirror to us. We’re all agreeing that these things are wrong.

This isn’t KingQueen’s debut single, is it?


Sabrina Petrini: No, but after the pandemic and everything, we all kind of feel like we’ve finally established a sound that we’re all proud of. It feels like this song kicked off the year right, and a lot of good things happened after we wrote it.

There are several equal rights/protest anthems out there. What makes “Burn This Motha” different and stand out from the others?

Sabrina Petrini: I don’t want to say that it’s just touching on a lot of subjects, but if you watch the video, it’s basically protesting the establishments that have been created, especially in the last four years. I’m from Sweden, and when I moved here in 2008, the No Hate Movement was going on in California. I can’t believe that almost 15 years later, we’re still fighting the same bullshit. So, it’s more of a collective of anger, but also like, we’re not going to accept it. It’s more of a protest than like a coming out or accepting myself kind of song.

What was it like working with award-winning filmmaker K. Rocco Shields on the music video?


Ella G. Burgos: I think she is a great director. She’s very well experienced, she knows what she’s doing, and she knows how to take control. You feel very much taken care of when you’re in her hands. It was so cool to have been a part of that production.

How did you all come together and form KingQueen?


Sabrina Petrini: When I moved here from Sweden, I started performing as a solo artist, and I did a lot of shows with drag queens. My first shot in LA was performing and singing a song in between their sets. I was just going by my name, and you know how drag queens call each other queen? I didn’t feel like a queen, but I didn’t feel like a king either, and then a drag queen was like, no, you’re a king-queen. I was like, shit, that should be my stage name (laughs). Then I got signed as a solo artist doing poppy music, but I wasn’t really happy with the direction I was going in because there wasn’t any depth.

I’m not saying that pop music doesn’t have depth, but the type of producers I was working with and the songwriting just wasn’t for me. Music is very much close to my heart and it’s not something that I do just because it’s cool. So, I left the label, and I wanted to be in a band because that’s how I initially started. Before moving here, that’s what I did. My brother was my drummer, and I’ve always done rock music. Fast forward, I decided to keep the name, and then I met all these cool cats and continued the journey of KingQueen.

Brandon Valerino: I joined probably over a year ago. I had subbed with Sabrina a few times, doing bass, and funny enough, she randomly called me last January being like, hey, how are you doing? What does your year look like? I had never played keytar in a band before, so I was very grateful to add the layers in this band and get to know all these cool cats and kittens.

Jake Absher: Yeah, I joined the band about a year and a half ago. Maybe even longer. I do a lot of work with other artists, and I’m a freelancer on top of doing KingQueen, and it was my friend Mark, who has worked with Sabrina before. They were like, one of my friends, she’s Swedish, and she needs a drummer to fill in for this gig. Long story short, I did the gig, and I really loved the music. It was right up my alley, and ever since that gig, I was pretty much a fill in. Eventually, Sabrina and I had the conversation. She was like, do you want to join? I was like, totally. I wanted to join from day one! It’s been awesome.


Ella G. Burgos: I joined the band about a year ago as well. It feels like way longer, but it was Jake who was like, my friend Ella can engineer the drums. So, I did that first. Then after that, Sabrina asked me to play bass for them. I was so pumped because I love KingQueen’s music. I knew I was going to have a lot of fun and form a really good friendship with them from the beginning. We’ve had so much fun.

Ultimately, what do you hope listeners take away from KingQueen’s music?

Sabrina Petrini: For me, I don’t want there to be any skippable song. I want people to feel something. When we play live, I’m always so grateful for the audience. We love what we do, but it’s always about them, and I’m always thinking about them. Like, we live in LA. There are a thousand choices, and you chose to come here and listen to us. So, I always want to honor everyone that is honoring us.

We play and record based on audience reactions. If the audience isn’t feeling something, we just don’t play that song, and that’s not selling out or anything. You’re just in tune with them and you want to give them the best show ever. Life is short and people have stressful lives, and I think being a musician, you can provide them an opportunity to forget their worries. That has always been a mission for KingQueen.


Brandon Valerino: Just to add to that, I play in another rock band, and I’ve been in the rock scene for about six years. One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s most made up of straight white guys. It’s very much one type of person playing rock music. So, I want people to come to our show who are different, queer, or whatever. Come to our show, feel accepted, and know that you’re in a safe space.

Jake Absher: I totally agree with Brandon, and like Sabrina said, our music is about making people feel. No song is skippable. You can find meaning in all our songs, and our shows are safe spaces for people to come and listen. I feel like we have all listened to music in our lives at a time and went, wow, that’s totally talking about my situation right now, and then you connect with it. I think that’s the great thing about our music, and I hope that’s what people can get out of it.


What are some future goals you hope to accomplish as a band?

Sabrina Petrini: I would love for us to play Coachella and more major festivals. We performed on the mainstage at San Francisco Pride last year, and we have some big stuff happening this summer. Honestly, it would be cool to go on a full Pride tour, where we hit New York Pride, Chicago Pride, LA Pride – all of them in one summer. San Francisco Pride was amazing, and I’ve been saying this to everyone, but I ugly cry when I look at the video of us playing because it was just so special and amazing.  I’ve made a list on my wall of gigs we’ve booked for this year on the left, and then the gigs that we want on the right. I’m putting all my energy into that.

Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you’d like to mention or plug?

Brandon Valerino: We are currently recording and mixing an EP!


Sabrina Petrini: Yeah, on that album, I don’t know if it’s going to be an album or EP yet, but we’re covering Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” It’s a rock version, it’s been received well so far, so hopefully Gaga will love it and repost it! Also, our first show for 2023 will be at the Orange County Fair for Out at the Fair. Out at the Fair is super cool, and anyone in our community should check it out. It’s not Pride, but it’s an all-LGBTQ stage, and they’ve been super supportive. So, our gig with them is in February, and we did a couple of tour dates with them last year, so we’re going to continue doing that this year.

Stay up-to-date and connect with KingQueen by following the band on Instagram and TikTok @hausofkingqueen, or visit their official website, “Burn This Motha” and all their other releases are available on all digital streaming platforms.


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