Mikaela Straus is upstate, riding a horse. She’d been scheduled for an interview right now, yet the information didn’t make its way to her. “I’m quite literally still at the barn,” she apologizes moments later over the phone, “but I could FaceTime you from my grandma’s house in 45 minutes?” The 20-year-old singer-songwriter who records as King Princess lives in L.A., and she’s currently visiting family in Saratoga Springs. Straus was raised in Brooklyn. Her father, sound engineer Oliver Straus, has a recording studio in Williamsburg, and her family is a storied New York one (her great-great-great-grandfather co-founded Macy’s and went down on the Titanic); she attended the private high school Avenues, next to the High Line. Straus grew up around music recording, so it’s a lucky thing she’s super-talented at it too. (She once told NME, “I was such a fucking loud, obnoxious kid who was singing and writing my Grammys acceptance speech in the shower.”) After school, she would record backup vocals for artists who passed through her father’s space. When she was 11, Virgin dangled a record deal. (Prewritten Grammy acceptance speech aside, she turned it down.) Her first single, “1950,” a soulful pop confection in the vein of Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish, was released last spring by Mark Ronson’s new label, Zelig, and became a viral hit after Harry Styles quoted it on Twitter. Straus’s EP, Make My Bed, soon followed. In the months since, she has had a remarkable rise for an artist with only a few singles to her name—touring the world, gracing the cover of V magazine, and starring in a Gap campaign. Now comes her first LP, Cheap Queen, a melancholy work that lingers on the women who have broken her heart. Straus has a sense of humor about it. “The album is fucking sad, girl,” she deadpans, when we connect from Grandma’s place.
The first song on the album is called “Tough on Myself.” Are you?
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September 2-15, 2019