Twenty-year-old singer-songwriter King Princess releases one of pop music’s most hotly anticipated debut albums on Friday, “Cheap Queen”, more than a year after she shot to stardom with a single name-checked by Harry Styles and Kourtney Kardashian.
The buzz around the Brooklyn-born singer, whose full name is Mikaela Straus, has built since her single “1950”, inspired by “The Price of Salt”, the Patricia Highsmith novel about a forbidden lesbian affair. The soulful ballad has more than 10 million YouTube views since it appeared in February last year.
Speaking at the Glastonbury Festival in June, Straus said she was “really, really excited” about the album. “It’s going to be fierce,” she said, adding that the songs had been inspired by “the usual girl heartbreak”.
“Honey, heartbreak, hard times, friendships, you know, that shit, all the good shit,” she said.
As her stage name suggests, she plays with gender roles, appearing in the “1950” video in a cowboy outfit with a pencilled-in moustache. She sings of a girlfriend who rescues her “when the dudes try to chase me… cause I’m just a lady”.
But she said it was important that LBGT artists aren’t pigeonholed, as they might once have been.
“The thing about queer people’s careers in the past is that it’s been focused on a narrative of sexuality and you don’t get the substance,” she said. “And I, before anything, want to deliver the music and then give you the gay shit, too, on top of it like an extra treat.”
“There’s amazing queer people in the audience, (but) there’s also people who just love music and are there to just jam out and that is just equally as important to me,” she said.
Straus was one of the first signings to Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records, an imprint of Columbia Records, after the musician and producer known for working with Amy Winehouse and Adele heard her “Make My Bed” EP.
“We had dinner and started hanging out a bit and talking about music,” she said. “You get to meetings and it feels super sterile most of the time, and it was just really nice to talk with somebody who produced some of my favorite records and is just a super fan of music in general.”