Fender Sessions is a three-song set from a unique location that helps peel back the curtain on the creative process of artists around the world. Aimed at amplifying the voices of both emerging talents and established legends, Sessions gives artists a way to fully articulate their vision and mastery of their craft.
With the recent release of her debut album Cheap Queen, King Princess (a.k.a. Mikaela Straus) has cemented her place as one of today’s most formidable artists – a singer, songwriter, musician and producer with an unstoppable voice and vision.
The record blends sparkling 50s pop with dreamy introspection, smooth R&B and a host of other influences to create something all her own. But the themes Straus explores lyrically are just as captivating – and crucial – as her singular sound.
“It's about gender and sexuality and love and musicality,” said the 20-year-old Straus, who uses her music to empower fellow members of the LGBTQ community by sharing personal experiences in life and love. “Those concepts are so much bigger than any one person or any one gender.”
Straus initially tackled these subjects in her first single, “1950,” which appeared on the 2018 EP, Make My Bed. The surprise hit reached a million streams in its first week and currently boasts 300 million streams on Spotify alone. The newfound attention helped inspire the songs on her new album.
“I write constantly, and I’ve been writing this record and the songs that are on it chronologically since the EP,” said Straus. “I’m just always in the studio or on my laptop. The more I write, the more I start to see groups of songs fit together as puzzle pieces.”
Straus' passion for songwriting began when she was a child growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As the daughter of renowned recording engineer Oliver Straus, Mikaela spent a lot of time in her dad’s famed studio, Mission Sound Recording, hanging out with high-profile artists, playing instruments and learning the basics of music production.
Straus turned down a record deal with Virgin when she was 11, but eventually said yes in her late teens to Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records, an imprint at Columbia. Since then, she’s steadily built a legion of fans around the world by writing about what she knows best: herself.
“What I love is to look back on the past six months and see 40 songs, 30 songs, however many, in a folder and say, ‘These 10 or 15 belong together,’” said Straus. “These are the story. When you write chronologically, it follows your life. You end up with this magic growing-up piece.”
In this edition of Fender Sessions, Straus highlights four of her most powerful new tracks: “Watching My Phone,” “Do You Want to See Me Crying,” “Prophet” and “Cheap Queen.” Shot in a chic Los Angeles bungalow, Straus’ performance is practically electric.
"I took so much from rock stars, how to express myself on the stage, because it was so femme,” she said. “I think that type of genderless expressiveness is so translatable to now.
“Robert Plant, Elton John, Prince, Billie Holiday … these are people who existed in the in-between, and I feel like I also exist in the in-between. It’s part of why we feel so at home when we listen to them, because there’s no box they’re putting us in as a listener. They’re giving us the space to listen without judgement of something that is much bigger than all of us.”