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Toxic friendships and Kate Bush: King Princess on her new track ‘Cursed’

Mikaela Straus just dropped the Hold On Baby singles 'Too Bad' and 'Cursed'. Watch her go deep on the latter with producer Dave Hamelin

By Angie Martoccio

King Princess
King Princess (Picture: Press)

King Princess can sum up her new single “Cursed” with three words: “Toxic Friendship Anthem.” The 23-year-old pop star goes deep on the exhilarating track on the latest episode of Rolling Stone‘s “The Breakdown.”

The video features Straus at Mission Sound, her father’s studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She’s wearing the same Fiona Apple shirt she wore during her interview for Rolling Stone‘s latest digital cover story — a stylish item that she says was a gift from a fan.

Straus says “Cursed” resulted from a real-life encounter: “I had just seen somebody that I hadn’t talked to in a really long time. And I had that fresh trauma [and] inspiration to go off. I was like, ‘I’m writing a song about a toxic friendship!’”

Straus discusses the making of the Hold On Baby track with producer Dave Hamelin, who appears on Zoom on her computer. They laugh over the fact that they first met at a “rank” studio that featured no windows and a single laptop, but they stuck it out and got to know each other. Afterwards, they booked a proper session at Hamelin’s place, where the producer made her a sandwich and they got to work.

After untangling the layers of production and detailing the instrumentation, Straus cites Kate Bush’s 1993 song “Why Should I Love You,” which features backing vocals from Prince, as an inspiration for the song’s anthemic chorus. “Basically, the entire first half of the song builds into a chorus that Prince is singing on with these insane anthemic background vocals,” she says. “One vocal, cutting through the center. In the beginning of the song, the choir she’s singing on top of is doubled by organ, and I thought that was the coolest shit ever. I was like, ‘This is legendary!’”

Straus dropped “Cursed” on June 8, along with “Too Bad.” Both songs are featured in a video directed by her partner, Quinn Wilson, which features Straus performing in a bar, serving shots, laying naked on a pool table, and making out with herself — normal King Princess stuff. Hold On Baby arrives July 29.

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