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Everything you need to know about King Princess, the queer pop-star you should be listening to by now

Fans have said that King Princess’ ‘Gay Energy’ could power an entire country.

kp Source: Youtube

KNOWN BY THE stage name King Princess, Mikeala Straus is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer from Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NYC. 

Although she has yet to release a full length album, her fans include Harry Styles and Mark Ronson – which is pretty impressive, to say the least. But who is King Princess? Why does everybody on the internet love her? And why does it feel so hard to keep up with the music that the kids like these days? Are you really that old? 

Anyway, Straus was born in 1998 and grew up in the recording studio owned by her father, Oliver Straus. Having spent her entire life surrounded by instruments and high-profile recording artists, it was really only a matter of time until Straus began a music career of her own. According to the Boston Globe, she was offered her first record deal at the age of 11, but she turned it down to focus on education, presumably because her family had no doubt that there’d be plenty more opportunities like this down the line. 

As a result of her upbringing, she’s a natural at this whole music thing. In a recent interview, SiriusXM mentioned how unusual it was that Lorde wanted to write and produce her entire album, as a young female artist. King Princess replied:

It’s unusual until you make it usual, I think. It’s kinda like – to a certain extent – it’s like getting down to it and learning the programs, you have to be competent unless you’re extremely confident in vocals, you have to be very competent on Ableton or Protools or whatever the fuck you work in. You need to know what you want your music to sound like to be in a room with men and maintain a female voice throughout the whole process, which is what I feel like I have found. 

Source: SiriusXM/YouTube

Apart from the writing and production side of things, what makes King Princess so special is the fact that everything she makes is so unapologetically queer. Look at the  music video for her heart-wrenching single Talia, which features her grieving the loss of a relationship while hanging out with a sex doll in a seedy motel room. 

Source: King Princess/YouTube

This unapologetic queerness is not necessarily executed in a “I’m not going to apologise for who I am” kind of way, but rather a “It didn’t even occur to me to apologise, because this is all very normal” kind of way – something that’s heartening to see because it’s indicative of the fact that we’re living in a period of history where, for the first time, there are queer people growing up feeling completely normal, accepted and free of shame.

That’s not to say that all young queer people feel like this – or even that most of them do. Things are still quite shit for young LGBTQ people and they have a completely different experience growing up than their heterosexual peers, but little by little, we’re making a better world for them.

PastedImage-95881 Source: Youtube

Comfortably dealing with queer themes in her songs with a natural effortlessness, it almost seems as though she’s emulating something had watched thousands of other artists do so before her, but in reality, that’s not the case. Straus is very quick to acknowledge (both in her songs and in interviews) that this was totally impossible for others in the past.

King Princess teamed up with Genius.com to explain some of the lyrics of the Carol-inspired song 1950 (which Harry Styles previously tweeted the lyrics of), and said that this song was written as an homage to the majority of queer history, when it was impossible to even exist in public, never mind openly show love and affection.  

Queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time, expressed in society through coded art forms. I wrote this song as a story of unrequited love in my own life, doing my best to acknowledge and pay homage to that part of history. 
I was reading a lot of gay literature and there was one book, The Price of Salt [which was later turned into the movie Carol], that really stuck with me because it’s just a beautiful story, and I think what I loved about it was it took place in the ’50s and the way queer people were allowed to be public was so censored and it was all about body language and this kind of icy interaction because you had to hide yourself.

It’s worth listening to the song itself first in entirety before sitting through the Genius.com explainer on Youtube:

Source: King Princess/YouTube

But if you want to hear the song broken down line-by-line, here it is: 

Source: Genius/YouTube

Although Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt has been around since 1952, it was only made into the movie Carol in 2015. In the three years since that film’s release, it has already been recognised as incredibly important piece of art by LGBTQ people and was voted the ‘Best LGBT film of all time‘.

Autostraddle, a website that focuses on queer culture aimed at women, even devoted an entire month to Carol-related content, entitled 30 Days of Carol (which is not only hilarious and absolutely genius, but testament to how important it is to have movies, books, music, art and stories that feature positive, healthy and normal relationships between queer women).

It might seem like we’re going off topic here by entering into a rant about how brilliant Carol is, but the point we’re trying to make here is that depictions of queer female relationships like the ones we see in Carol, and in the music of the emerging generation of queer artists like King Princess, makes a huge impact on those who see and hear these stories. 

Okay, back to King Princess. 

King Princess is delighted to be hailed as a ‘gay icon’ this early on in her career – but she is wary of receiving too much credit. In January this year, Straus said:

If it brings [young LGBTQ people] joy to call me a “queer icon” on the internet, then 100 percent fucking do it. I wish I had a gay icon. This is a new generation of kids who have queer people to look at and be like, “I want to be like them one day.” We had straight people who were our gay icons, and we adored them, but there weren’t a lot of gay people who were hot, out, and loud. In that sense, of course, if it makes these kids happy, I feel like I’m doing something of importance. 
I don’t speak for the whole queer community. I speak for white women from Brooklyn who are lesbians. I have no right to speak for the entire queer community, which just means we need more people, especially more queer women of colour. I don’t speak for that percentage of people, and I don’t want to, because I don’t think I should take up the entirety of the room. 

And Mikeala has her mind set on elevating these voices as her career moves forward. While speaking to NME last summer, she explained that “It’s about time that we had some game-changers hoisted up in 2018 from the gay, trans, black, immigrant communities. It’s really important that these people find their voice now, especially with what’s going down.”

At present, King Princess is working on a new album, that could possibly be out before summer (but there’s no official release date yet). As much as we want this album to be a 3-CD boxset with 99 tracks, it’s more likely that it’ll feature around fifteen songs.

Fuck no, it’s not gonna be 25 tracks. That’s way too many tracks. I’m so proud of whoever can do that, but that will not be me. I will not be throwing 25 tracks at you and asking you to digest that. No thank you. I will give you little nuggets. I could do a cool 15, but not 16. That’s too many. 

Source: King Princess/YouTube

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Kelly Earley

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