Mikaela Straus, better known by her stage name King Princess, is a 20-year-old New York singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer hailing, to be exact, from Brooklyn. Under the King Princess moniker, Straus has released a debut EP called Make My Bed that features her insanely successful debut single, '1950'. At the end of January, I had the pleasure of talking with Straus just before her show at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall. We discussed growing up in New York, being around studios growing up and how that made her navigate towards a music career, the importance of '1950', and so much more!

So, I know you grew up in New York, can you touch upon that for a bit?

Yeah, New York is a great city to grow up in. It matures you really fast just because you’re just exposed to so much. And so, I grew up in Brooklyn, went to school in Manhattan, so I feel like I had the best of both sides of New York, kind of quiet New York, because when I was a kid, the heart of Brooklyn was super quiet and neighbourhoody and now it’s like gentrified and obviously my parents were the start of that gentrification, I had some time in between to enjoy it.

When did you realize that New York is really special?

I would say when I first started taking the subway, like in middle school or high school. I was just able to really see the beauty of New York, taking the train every day. I always describe as these like fleeting moments where you fall in love with people on the train, there’s just these weird, surreal crazy moments that you have in New York as a kid, I feel like as a kid figuring out your sexuality.

I know you were exposed to studios growing up and I know kids growing up tend to have a lot of passions, do you think being exposed to music early on led you here?

Yeah, it definitely did. Because I also knew that I was really lucky. I just knew that I was lucky to have this thing and I felt excited to use this tool I grew up with to get better.

The story goes you were in the shower where you got the idea for '1950'. Did you realise how special it was at the time?

Once I got into the studio and we like finished it, because we finished it in a day, me and my friend Nick and Mike and we knew it was special once it was done. Because we listened back to it and we just knew.

'1950' really feels like your signature song and seems to speak to who you are as a person. Do you see that as well?

Well Mark said because we were thinking about what to release first, '1950' or 'Talia', and Mark was the deciding factor because I was feeling towards him that '1950', was the song that represented me the best if you were to take a song from the EP that encapsulates me as an artist and I think it’s because of that reason that we decided on this record first. Mark said this is you and your first song should be completely and utterly about you, it shouldn’t be about someone else in the way some of the songs were and I was really moved by that when he said it.

When you released '1950', I know Harry Styles tweeted about it and you got an amazing reception... how were you feeling when that was all happening?

Well, it was like most of my music experience up until that point had been writing music and that was the comfort for me and then you put it out and it blows up the way '1950' did on social media especially, it definitely takes something away from that feeling of it being yours, but you also feel so warm and gratified that all of this people are responding to something that you made and that’s completely you. Because putting something that is authentically you is really hard and I’m fortunate enough to do that, but it is very challenging emotionally.

And even the challenges of being an artist that people don’t see, like people don’t really see the stress and anxiety that really goes into being an artist.

I think because I've always wanted to do this, you sort of have to be narcissistic to do this, I think it’s especially hard because you start telling yourself that you did all of this to yourself, and I’m like yeah that’s true, but you didn’t know what it was going to be like and I’m like 'alright you right sis'.

Given the type of music you’re making, about your sexuality, do you look back on artists like Boy George or Elton John in how they had to go through certain things? Do you look back on what gay artists had to go through?

I do! And those are our forefather and mothers! Like those are our people, they made it possible for me to feel inspired or a part of a legacy, especially Freddy Mercury and Elton John and that kind of rock-star, gay, iconism is really interesting to me because it feels, the music now, now that we look back feels of a period, but the looks and the physicality and the way these people expressed themselves is so current and so modern and when you look at fashion right now and it’s all cyclical, it’s just coming back and we’re pulling from these same references, these same pool of references and I love that because it feels like queerness is not only a community, but a melting pot, in which we can all look at our history and grab from things and say I’m inspired by this person who came before me and you’re sort of paying homage to them in doing so. And I think that’s the value of knowing history and I want to learn more because every time I find something, I get more inspired, it’s just as simple as that, so I want people to have access to that, somehow and I hope my music and talking about those who came before us brings into light that we’re all influenced by the Elton’s and the Freddy’s and the Boy George’s.

Is that how you went into your debut EP?

Well, I went into my debut EP because I had my heart smashed and I was sad, which is typically how it goes I would say. It honestly lights a fire under my ass to get things done, which I personally need. But I went into the EP with '1950' and feeling inspired, but a lot of the songs don’t have to do with queer history, a lot of them have to do with sadness, heartbreak and anger and love too, and this could all be equally as inspiring as history.

I read something about you going to the New York pride and getting stopped?

Yeah, I had never been stopped before at the pride parade for people telling me thank you. And I feel like I never got to access pride before in a way where people felt excited to see me and like I'm excited to see y’all.

And on that note too, how has it been with the crowds on tour?

Shows are great because I feel like with all the environments to play music in these kids are not only the most deserving, but they’re coming to the shows and their excited and so I’m playing these new songs and I’m trying to give the depths of my sad heart and I think their receiving it and feeling connected and it’s really beautiful and it’s great too because there a great soundboard, like you like that! Like yas!