King Princess Is The Jewish Queer Pop Artist You Need In Your Life
All hail King Princess, the queer Jewish pop singer winning the world over with her sultry tunes and bad-boy androgynous style. To those who know her personally, she is 19-year-old Mikaela Strauss, but those (like myself) who’ve been touched by her foray into the music scene, know that she is much more than that — she is pure royalty. The Brooklyn-bred musician’s debut album isn’t out till later this year but her first EP, “Make My Bed” came out this past June. And it’s been blowing up ever since.
Some claim that Harry Styles put her on the map, when he tweeted lyrics from her hit song, “1950.” But Strauss is one of those rare unicorns who seemingly isn’t fazed by other people’s perception of her talent. Her confidence is all her own.
I love it when we play 1950.
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) March 7, 2018
With her sophisticated look, it’s hard to tell that she is still just a teenager. But as one concert-goer recounts, the budding star’s goofy stage presence is quite palpable. “When someone yelled “Take off your jersey!” she flashed a hint of her bedazzled sports bra and crooned, “Stop it, my parents are here!” When a different fan shouted “hit your juul!” she flirtatiously inhaled on her e-cigarette, and responded, “This is my addiction,” says Avery Friedman.
Strauss grew up surrounded by the music industry as her father provided artists like Jack Antonoff, Mumford & Sons, Pink, and the National a space to create music in his Williamsburg recording studio, Mission Sound. She got her start playing backup vocals for artists who came in to record. “I popped out of nowhere, but little do they know I’ve been little fuin’ gay-a working in the studio since I was a kid,” she tells The Cut. Now that she creates her own music, she doesn’t play back up for anyone. All her music thus far has been centered around lesbian relationships and her own queer identity. She also uses religious imagery to merge sexuality with these two opposing elements.
“1950” is a reference to The Price of Salt, and the forbidden nature of its central lesbian relationship. The video for her second single, “Talia,” features Straus in her underwear, straddling and kissing a sex doll as a stand-in for an ex-girlfriend who’s left her,” says The Cut’s Katie Heaney in an interview with the pop queen. She has said that her music serves as remembrance of “the way that queer people had to hide our love in history.”
Like the music scene, the gay scene is nothing new to Strauss who grew up in a progressive family with a gay man as her nanny. “I was always this kind of weird, sexual kid. I knew what I wanted,” she tells Heaney. When asked if she is dating Amanda Stenberg, whom appears all over her Instagram, she smirks and tells her interviewer: “No comment. I’ll just say I’m lucky. I’ve got the dopest girl in my corner.”
“You’re your truest self when you’re young, and when somebody says something, and you’re like, Oh, maybe I’m not normal, you shut it down,” she says. “It’s always a process to rediscover those parts of yourself,” she says about coming out at 13. Her greatest performance influences are from drag and ballroom culture. The androgynous genderqueer musician says people who listen to her music are just trying to find peace with themselves and their identity. And that women all over should know that they have a voice, and shouldn’t wait for their turn to use it.
Bonnie Azoulay is an intern at the Forward.