You actually don’t need to ask King Princess who her musical influences are. She’s wearing a vintage Cher T-shirt when she arrives at the Austin360 tent Friday at Austin City Limits Music Festival. We asked anyway.
“I am really compelled by the nature of our music history, and the fact that we have these staple divas that embed themselves into the tapestry of music history,” the 20-year-old singer, aka Mikaela Straus, says.
Listen to the full interview with King Princess below:
Straus name-checks the queens she serves: Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Cher (of course), Madonna, Celine Dion. The “Ons,” she calls the last two.
“It’s so beautiful to look at a history of divas and see how they have used queerness, really used queerness, as a vessel to not only promote themselves, but promote the queers around them,” she says. “For every diva, there is an arsenal of gay men, and women. I just feel like all art is gay, and the best things that we love are usually gay. And for so long they’ve been hidden, and now it’s just time to have some gay divas.”
That she is. Shortly after our conversation, the genderqueer artist kicked off her Cheap Queen tour at ACL Fest in the blazing sun, owning every inch of the Honda stage. She drops “mama” and “girl” liberally in conversation and on-stage; during her performance, she says the song “Trust Nobody” is “true tea, so sip it slow.”
Her songs written to women she’s loved start as a sort of LiveJournal of her feelings, she says. Straus wrote some of them to tell people directly how she felt about them, and now the world gets to hear.
The songs are “always intended to be heard by someone specifically, and that’s part of what makes them personal and intimate,” Straus says. “I’m writing music that I want the girls I dated to hear. Whether current, past, present, future."
Is she worried about putting it all out there?
“There’s nothing in these songs that we haven’t felt,” Straus says.
Listen to our full interview with King Princess, including the origin of the dance her choreographer created for new single “Hit the Back” and her wildest golf cart story.
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