This week we’re shining the Artist Spotlight on the rapidly rising alt-pop soul queen King Princess, the 19-year-old singer and producer who’s the first signee to Mark Ronson‘s new label, Zelig Recordings. The Brooklyn-heralding artist, whose real name is Mikaela Straus, has been blowing up this spring leading up to the release of her debut Make My Bed EP both organically on Spotify and on social media following One Direction’s Harry Styles tweeting a lyric from her breakout song “1950,” the first track included on our requisite Artist Spotlight playlist.
I love it when we play 1950.
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) March 7, 2018
As she told Pitchfork about the song, which is the final cut on her debut EP and an homage to unrequited love historically forbidden by society, “Queer love was only able to exist privately for a long time, expressed in society through coded art forms.” That sentiment reflects exactly the level of vulnerability and depth she’s able to access in all of her songs; it’s refreshing albeit a little painful in its ruthless authenticity. She spent a year in college at University of Southern California’s School of Music, where she studied under the legendary pianist and singer Patrice Rushen before leaving to pursue music full-time. The next two tracks in our playlist are her first two independent SoundCloud releases, “Send Pix” and “Sunburn,” put out just six months ago which very quickly led to the Zelig signing and ultimately her Make My Bed EP.
The other breakout single off that EP, “Talia,” which has a deeply heartfelt, distinctly modern music video included below, is the fourth song in our playlist. Its lyrics reflect a capacity for emotional understanding well beyond her 19 years on Earth, perfectly encapsulating the loneliness of not just being a kid, but a kid growing up in such a fast-paced, digitally interconnected world where it’s easy for real-life human contact to slip through the cracks of our ultra-busy day-to-day happenings. It’s a very personal break-up song, but it feels more complex and universally relatable than your standard-issue sad love song; there’s a sense of unrest and urgency to it that feels bigger than the aftermath of a single failed relationship.
The final track “Upper West Side,” which is only a preview, is my favorite song off the Make My Bed EP. The melodic progression is led by a breathy, tantalizing electric guitar that gives an extra bite to the effortlessly cool style emanating off every King Princess release. As you could probably tell from the title, the story of this song is very much set in New York and it feels like she’s somehow comfortable at home throughout the track. Whereas it feels like she’s bearing the depths of her soul in the other songs we included in this playlist, it feels like she’s more observant and detached on “Upper West Side,” which allows for more insight into how she sees the world. The only downside to our new King Princess obsession is that she only has seven tracks out! That may sound like plenty to you if you haven’t listened to her yet, but after a few trips through her release catalog, you’ll quickly find that’s not nearly enough to satisfy what is now a ravenous KP craving. You’ve been warned, and now you may enjoy.