When did you first hear about King Princess?
Katie: Fittingly it was actually when she was featured in our New Sounds for 2019!
Kezia: I first came across a shoot of hers on Instagram and I was like ‘this seems like a cool person to check out’ and then I was very into the queer pop vibes!
Katie: I liked Emma’s description of ‘1950’ being like Billie Eilish giving a class in women’s studies.
Kezia: Hah, that’s such a great description! I think her music grew on me – I really liked ‘Pussy is God’ when I first heard it but then some of the others took me a few listens to get into.
Katie: I spend the vast majority of my time listening to club music, but sometimes even I need a break from the 4/4. So I liked her sound –the sparse instrumentation and that you can hone in on her lyrics and vocal melodies, and these soft, delicate harmonies.
Does the album feel like an extension of those early songs, or does she do something different here?
Kezia: She really hones in on the more tender melodies and vulnerability of previous tracks like ‘Talia’ here, rather than bigger pop sounds (though they’re definitely still there on some track). There’s almost a greater sense of confidence in this sonic tenderness and openness.
Katie: It’s definitely more vulnerable, more tender and stripped back. I’ve read it’s a chronological retelling of her heart’s ups and downs from the past year so it’s not surprising that it feels cathartic.
Were you a little disappointed it’s less about the pop riffs – or did it make you like the record more?
Katie: The record’s standout pop banger is ‘Hit Me Back’, and that’s the penultimate track on the album, so she makes you wait for it. That said, just because the pop riffs have taken a backseat it doesn’t make the record any less catchy – she has the ear for a melody that sticks. So it wasn’t a disappointment, there’s still a lot of singing along to be done!
Kezia: It didn’t feel quite as immediate but I didn’t find that disappointing at all. Releasing ‘Cheap Queen’ and ‘Useless Phrases’ as the first singles gave a good taster of what to expect. ‘Hit Me Back’ is definitely a stand out track, but it almost feels more impactful to have these choice moments of super catchy pop.
What are the other stand out songs?
Katie: ‘Ain’t Together’, ‘Isabel’s Moment’ (shout out Tobias Jesso Jr.’s extremely lovely feature), and ‘Watching My Phone’, because, god, can’t we all relate to the idea of sitting thinking about someone and constantly looking at your phone willing it to go off?
Kezia: I was instantly hooked on ‘Cheap Queen’, and I also really love ‘Prophet’. It’s such a silky, sensual feeling track where the vocals, melodies and beat all so perfectly meld together.
How important is it to have someone who proudly celebrates being queer? Do you think that comes out in the album or is it more a personal collection of songs?
Katie: I’m coming at this as a straight cis woman, and don’t want to overstep my place, but I’d say any music that makes you feel proud to be who you are without compromising is wildly important. I don’t think this record necessarily came across as a fierce celebration of being queer, but rather as a personal memoir, where King Princess opens up to express her desires, her fears, her crushes and her heartaches – which is super relatable, regardless of your sexuality, or how you identify.
Kezia: To me it feels predominantly like an emotional collection of tracks that are deeply personal and intimate, but naturally her own identity comes through with that. For me personally, the wealth of incredible, proudly queer artists, such as King Princess, who have space to fully express and celebrate their identities has been pretty integral to my own as a queer person. But I think with Cheap Queen it’s ultimately this beautiful, deeply human and relatable expression of emotions.
And what do you think the future holds for her?
Katie: In interviews I’ve read, she can come across a little brash. And while that confidence is definitely not a bad thing – in fact it’s inspiring – it was nice for me to then hear this music that is so delicate and compassionate. Cheap Queen shows there are multiple strings to the King Princess bow – she can deliver pop and she can deliver an a capella intro to make you shiver (closer ‘If You Think It’s Love’). I’m looking forward to catching her live.
Kezia: It’ll be interesting to see where she takes her sound next – it’s exciting ’cause she could continue with this quieter, gentler sound or bring out some more absolute bangers, and either way it’s going to be great.
Photo by Vince Aung.