King Princess is the antidote to any sentiments that Sapphic leanings are only cool for the summer.
The queer artist (nee Mikaela Straus) has seen millions of streams of her debut single “1950,” which had some help from Harry Styles’ tweeting from the chorus: “I love it when we play 1950,” a song inspired by the days of clandestine lesbian love affairs featured in the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt that would also serve as the inspiration for Todd Haynes’ Carol.
“Historically a publicly unaccepted but incredibly rich culture, queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time, expressed in society through coded art forms,” Strauss told I-D. “I wrote this song as a story of unrequited love in my own life, doing my best to acknowledge and pay homage to that part of history.”
The follow-up, “Talia,” is no less specific to same-sex relationships, as King Princess is unapologetic in her use of pronouns or female-signifiers. She is singing, of course, about women; in “Talia,” a very specific woman who is no longer a part of her life, but continues to linger. In the newly released video, Talia is a real doll, the kind that customers (largely men) can customize for companionship and, in most cases, sexual relationships.
“I reached a point in my life where I was like, well, am I gonna gender my songs?” she told I-D. “And I decided, yeah, I’m gonna put fucking female pronouns in my songs. It doesn’t make any sense for me to hide that part of myself. I needed to do it to help love myself and get through shit. I needed to be true to it and be like, ‘Yeah, this song’s about a lady.’”
The use of the doll for a haunting song about love lost and mourned is perfect for “Talia,” and the video also centers on Strauss’s moving through this universal experience with highly specific imagery cultivated from her queer POV. Even her state of dress–a sports bra, boxer shorts, low-slung denim and athleisure attire accompanied by a swagger that echoes Kristen Stewart’s, offers something new to the canon of lo-fi bedroom pop.
Thankfully, it’s soon to be followed with an EP, Make My Bed. The album is filled with tracks written and produced by the 19-year-old Mark Ronson protégé, who was raised in a musical family, learning how to play several instruments including the piano by the age of 11. She studied withlegendary pianist and singer Patrice Rushen while at USC’s Thornton School of Music until sheleft to pursue music full time.
Make My Bed will drop on Ronson’sZelig Records on June 15. On June 18, she’ll play her first live show at Los Angeles’s The Troubadour, followed by a New York date (June 25)atBrooklyn’s Zone Out At Elsewhere.