Kultūra

Music is in King Princess's Blood

"There’s a culture around women being in the room and allowing men—because of the way the industry works and the power imbalance—to create a homogenous product. So not only is it a boys’ club, but they’re not turning out shit that’s worth anything."
Reading time 3 minutes

Photography by Christelle De Castro

Fashion by Julian Antetomaso

 

The reign of King Princess only began in early 2018, when “1950,” her debut single capturing the nuance and ache of queer longing, stormed Spotify, landing millions of streams and shout-outs from the likes of Harry Styles on Twitter. But while the 19-year-old, smoky-voiced artist born Mikaela Straus may be new to the streaming throne, music’s long been in her blood.

The self-described “loud kid with opinions” grew up in her dad’s hand-built music studio in Brooklyn, where she spent her youth tracking backup vocals after school and learning “shit about music” from the various band members who would drop in and out of the space. “That was my playground,” Straus shares. “It legitimized my feelings of being in the business. When I started to really do this as a career in high school, I was doing sessions every weekend. It became a place for me to record music and explore the equipment. I was socializing in a setting that was way beyond my years.”

"[Producing] was the only way I could execute my ideas without people saying shit. It’s great to have the critique and perspective of other people in the room, but it’s your fucking music. You have to make sure it’s what you want.”

The experience also empowered Straus in other ways, allowing her to learn the production side of music while honing her vocal and writing skills. It also gave her autonomy over her work. “There’s a culture around women being in the room and allowing men—because of the way the industry works and the power imbalance—to create a homogenous product. So not only is it a boys’ club, but they’re not turning out shit that’s worth anything…[producing] was the only way I could execute my ideas without people saying shit. It’s great to have the critique and perspective of other people in the room, but it’s your fucking music. You have to make sure it’s what you want.”

Perhaps that’s the thing most noticeable about King Princess: Behind the androgynous aesthetic and intoxicating alt-pop, there’s a firm sense of self-assuredness that draws you in—and it’s contagious. “I think being gay at a young age really helped. I knew who I was. Exploring the history of queer people and watching things, reading things, looking at characters in history and learning from them…that’s what really did it for me. I try to bring that into the studio. When I do that, people can see my perspective so much better.” 

Credits

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Hair: Yuki Kim (Bridge Artists)

Makeup: Kento Utsubo

Makeup Assistant: Mao Uga

Digital Technician: Brandon Avriam

Catering: Better Being

Design: Cathryn Carey (Stoneman)

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