queen of hearts
One of this year’s biggest breakouts, King Princess (aka 19-year-old Mikaela Straus) is taking young love to new heights
When Harry Styles tweeted a single lyric from King Princess’ debut single,
“1950” in February, he didn’t even have to name the song to put it – and the teen star behind it – on the map. There’s now little doubt as to the origins of the lyric; the song it’s from has over 120 million streams and counting on Spotify alone.
Since then, Straus has felt the love from musicians Charli XCX, Halsey, Tegan and Sara, and The xx’s Romy Madley Croft. “It feels amazing to be supported by other people in the industry,” she says. “I think it’s easy to think about what is fucked up in our creative communities, but there’s a lot of love there, too.”
Straus doesn’t shy away from her sexuality in her lyric-writing. “1950” was inspired by Patricia Highsmith’s
1952 novel The Price Of Salt (better known as the film Carol), drawing parallels between hidden queer love, and the similar, isolated nature of unrequited adoration. Some have ventured there are sexual connotations in “I love it when we play 1950” – a reference to 69-ing (because 19 plus 50… you get it). “Straight people don’t think about ambiguity when they write about people they love,” says the musician. “Neither should I.” In June, she released her debut EP,
Make My Bed – the titular track a 90-second-only rumination on the painful motion of moving on after heartbreak – as the first signing to Mark Ronson’s new label, Zelig Records. “Mark has been an amazing guiding presence in my career,” says Straus. Another such presence is that of her sound engineer dad, whose Brooklyn recording studio she spent hours in as a kid. “Watching him operate a studio gave me the confidence to enter into a male-dominated industry and know exactly what I want,” she says. While such a start may have helped train her ear, it’s clear King Princess has a hustle that can’t be taught. “I’m gonna keep working until I die!” Catch King Princess on tour from November 2; kingprincessmusic.com