King Princess is a Brooklyn-based pop artist and queer icon now on her first big tour, stopping at the Wonder Ballroom for a sold-out show on April 24.
Born Mikaela Straus, the 20-year-old spent her childhood with her dad, Oliver Straus, in his Mission Sound Recording studio in Brooklyn, New York. He was influenced by such rock bands as Led Zeppelin, T. Rex and Jack White. She spent her time making "angry punk ass sh—."
Straus' social media is one long reel of her juuling (smoking e-cigarettes) in cowboy hats, attending award shows and chilling with her girlfriend Amandla Stenberg, who is the star of the recent film "The Hate You Give." Amandla came out as gay this year in an interview for Wonderland magazine.
King Princess' first hit single "1950" is a queer love anthem featuring Straus' vocals over a mellow and infectious synth. The song plays with the history of same-sex relationships and living out to the world in the context of an off-again, on-again relationship.
On the topic of how gayness is perceived now, she has said, "It's amazing, and I'm so proud of how far we've come. It's important to look at history and what the circumstances were like 50 years ago, because it grounds you."
As a child she learned bass, guitar, piano and drums, but now focuses on vocals when playing live. She told i-D magazine about her musical roots: "I was a studio rat. People must've been like, 'What the (expletive) is this small, dyke-y child doing here?'" Declining a record deal at 11, Straus focused on her education, and later attended the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music.
Queer-oriented love songs are still lacking in a historically heterosexual industry, but other artists like Hayley Kiyoko and the twins Tegan and Sara have been creating room for femme narratives in mainstream radio in recent years. With the rise of new avenues in pop music, King Princess has become larger than life to fans.
Straus' lyricism is intelligent, funny, unapologetically lesbian and often plays with religious motifs. On her most recent ode to the feminine form, Straus sings, "I've been praying for hours / She's God and I found her."
She revealed that she regularly gets messages about how her songs inspired kids to come out to their parents, which she calls "very, very sweet."
While breaking down boundaries and becoming a gay icon, King Princess has created some of the most catchy jams to hit the alt-pop charts in a while.
Put down your ukelele for a night and salute the new princess of lo-fi pop.
Who: King Princess
Where: Wonder Ballroom
When: 8 p.m. Wed, April 24
Price: Sold out
Kids at work
Tribune writer Joseph Gallivan's daughter, Helena Gallivan, wrote this story as part of National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
The holiday is recognized on the fourth Thursday in April each year (April 25). It is an educational program in the United States and Canada where parents take their children to work with them for one day. It is the successor to Take Our Daughters to Work Day which, in 2003, was expanded to include boys.
National Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day was founded by Gloria Steinem and the MS Foundation for Women in 1993.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Employers are encouraged to invite employees to bring their children to work. For more information visit daughtersandsonstowork.org. Share your story on social media using #TakeOurChildrenToWorkDay
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