“Here’s the thing about New York,” Brooklyn native Mikaela Straus tells NME. “One would think there’s a lot of coldness but it’s the opposite. People are genuine. They have places to be. So if someone is giving you kindness, they mean it.”
The singer-songwriter and producer, better known as King Princess, is at her local Williamsburg park, next to the East River, talking about how the “intense” city has affected her creativity. She released her debut single, ‘1950’, in 2018. The track went platinum, and was followed by her acclaimed album ‘Cheap Queen’, sold-out tours around the world, a second lauded album ‘Hold On Baby’ and a stint living in Los Angeles. Still, there’s something about New York that calls her home. “Being here is important,” she says. “It brings me back to where I came from, just being a kid, writing music, living in a city.”
For Straus, the city is overflowing with inspiration. “Someone will say something and you’ll be like, ‘Oh my god, I just heard a Shakespearean quote on the train’,” she says. “I get inspired by people’s conversations. Every time you go somewhere, you get to experience the world.”
Although Straus tells us she’s “lucky to be from a city with a rich music history” and that “there’s so much to be pulled from that”, her sights are always set on creating something uniquely her own. “I come from a recording background,” she says as we head to Williamsburg’s Mission Sound, owned by her father. “For me, it’s all about how [music] is made. When you think about the history of New York studios and engineers, it’s easy not to copy directly when you know how it’s made.” Award-winning producers such as Jack Antonoff and Mark Ronson, and artists like Arctic Monkeys, The National and Sia have recorded here.
The space is strewn with tools and instruments, plus couches that Straus remembers sleeping on when the studio doubled as her living space. “The first studio you were creative in will always have a place in your heart,” she says. “Luckily, the place I grew up learning how to be creative is my home. I return to where I’m comfortable.” King Princess recently returned to Mission Sound to finish ‘The Bend’, a guitar track flush with yearning and ironic lyrics, and which features on ‘Bose x NME: C23’. “It’s about feeling like every time you get to the mountain, there’s another mountain, whether that’s your mental health or your love life or your work life.”
Though she wrote it in upstate New York with The National’s Aaron Dessner, returning home to Mission to finish it was an easy decision. “I was in New York and we had to get tracking done and I thought it would be sweet to have my dad track some stuff, so we did,” she says.
Though Straus grew up learning from her dad in the studio, Straus reveals that much of her experience and success came from “running around the city being like, ‘I have a song, I need you to listen to this music’. Eventually people started really believing in me,” she says. That support from her hometown is still something she looks forward to coming back to. “New Yorkers ride for their artists,” she says. “I feel a lot of love when I play here.”
King Princess’ ‘The Bend’ is out now. Stay tuned to NME.com/C23 for the latest on the return of the iconic mixtape.