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King Princess Talks Working With "Master Of Sound" Mark Ronson & Remixing Meryl Streep's 'Big Little Lies' Shriek

King Princess

Photo by Jacklyn Krol for The Recording Academy

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King Princess Talks Working With "Master Of Sound" Mark Ronson & Remixing Meryl Streep's 'Big Little Lies' Shriek

"'Mary-Luiz (Plz Plz),' honey, is going to be the next theme song for 'Big Little Lies,'" the rising singer/songwriter/producer tells the Recording Academy before her Thursday night Lollapalooza set

GRAMMYs/Aug 2, 2019 - 08:55 pm

If you haven't heard of King Princess, aka 20-year-old Mikaela Straus yet, it's a great time to get to know the rising pop singer/songwriter/producer. Her debut album, Cheap Queen, is due out this fall on Zelig Records, Mark Ronson's label, and she was featured on Ronson's recently released breakup album, Late Night Feelings. The child of engineer Oliver Straus (Melissa Etheridge, P!nk), King Princess practically grew up in the studio, and as a result is learning to trust her intuition when it comes to her own work. 

Working with Ronson, the seven-time GRAMMY-winning superproducer, has been a major confidence-booster, too. "[I've learned] that my instincts are probably right," she exclusively tells the Recording Academy before her Thursday night Lollapalooza set. "I think that [Ronson] is really respectful of the fact that I have the perspective of a young, queer woman and I'm a young person. That meant the world to me."

Below, King Princess sits down with the Recording Academy to chat about her forthcoming debut, recording at Rick Rubin's famous Shangri-La studio, her love of crafting dance tracks from all kinds of strange sounds (one of the most recent is Meryl Streep's now-iconic Big Little Lies shriek), her dream collaboration and more.

You're about to perform here at Lolla. How are you feeling?

I feel really good. I've been playing shows a fk ton this year, and it feels like these moments like Lolla, Coachella, Gov Ball, just like really make me emotional. Because these are the big ones. You dream about this, and you hear about your parents going, and my family's from up in L.A., so Coachella for them was a huge deal. Gov Ball was huge for me. It's really like, those are the moments you're like, "Oh, man."

That's awesome. Living the dream. 

No, it's truly, truly living the dream. I have amazing slots, and the stages have been great, and everything's great.

What are you most looking forward to about the festival?

I am most looking forward to my show, and then probably walking around and seeing some other people. Because I love to have those moments after your show where you're like, "I did it, bitch. Let's go walk around, take a breather. Enjoy the festival.

You also performed at a Lolla Aftershow last night, correct?

I did a venue show at Thalia Hall. The sound was amazing, and the kids were like fking losing it. It was just so much fun. Cautious Clay opened for me, who I'm a huge fan of. I was just like, "What a great way to kick off the weekend." Pretty much a practice for what's going to go down on stage.

Do you have a different approach for a festival stage versus a more intimate venue?

Yeah. I feel like any time you play something like this, you just have to account for the fact that you're outdoors, and you're at a festival where most people are drunk, and moving around. It's a different energy you really project, in a way outside, that you don't even have to in an intimate space. Because people are paying to watch you, they're paying to stand there at your specific show. It's more like you're winning attention at a festival, which I like because it's a challenge. It's a challenge to play really good and have your band be really tight. 

What's your biggest hope or vision when you come off the stage in a few hours?

Just that, like, everyone who watches it, whether it's on the internet, or live, is just so thrilled to have seen it, and like they saw a great show that day. Because it's like the worst when you want to go see someone and then you don't feel compelled. I love my band, and I love the way we play live. People seem to be really like happy and pleased to have seen us afterward. That's all I care about it. I just care that they like it. That's all I care about it. 

I really liked your feature on Mark Ronson's album. What was it like working with him, and on that project?

Him and I have a really interesting relationship, because I think he probably thought that I was more of an artist and less of a producer. It turns out I'm probably more of a producer and less of an artist. I think my brain functions in the studio like a producer's. It's just like working with him, is like sometimes we butt heads, and sometimes we clash because I'm like an apprentice producer under him. That's kind of like our relationship.

He's a master of sound. So, we get in these weird tiffs about how long he takes to get the perfect sound. I'm just like making everything so fast, and he's like, "No, bch. You have to wait, get everything right." Which I appreciate because it teaches me how to slow down and really take time to make something because then you get a record like his record that sounds tailored.

So, that song that we wrote ... I wrote a couple songs, and he was like, "They're not good enough, not good enough," and I'm like, "Fk you." Then I sat down, it was like 3:00 am at [Rick Rubin's] Shangri-La, and I wrote that song with my engineer, Mike, on the piano, in this big white room. I wrote it, and I was like stoned as balls. I was like, "Mark, I think I got it." I played it for him, and he was like, "Yep." That was the biggest challenge, just being like, you know, "It is your record, you produce it." 



What was the biggest thing you learned from working with Mark, so far?

That my instincts are probably right. It's like I think that he is really respectful of the fact that I have the perspective of a young, queer woman, and I'm a young person. He's just always been like, "That's the sh*t that people listen to." People listen to "1950" because you feel like you're in my shoes, and that's a hard thing to do when you're trying to appeal to a demographic of people who are completely different from you. He was just like, "I felt it." That meant the world to me, just hearing that my instincts about my production and sounds were right.

Do you have another favorite song from Mark's album? 

"Why Hide" with Diana Gordon. It's like the most beautiful song, I think, on the record.

Do you have any other dream collabs you want to speak out and manifest?

I've been saying this a lot, but I want a song with Jack White. I don't know. Somebody should make that happen one day.

How'd you come up with your artist name?

When I was young, it was like, I didn't even realize the true meaning of it. Because I feel like it was just something we kind of joked around about. Like in the studio with my friend, Doug, he'd always call me "King Princess." Later in life, I was like, I just cannot believe that my young self created a name and a concept that was so beyond where I was at with my gender, and my sexuality at that point. Then to look back, and be like, "That is me, I'm the intersection of these two things, these two extremes."

I love that. I feel like our young selves are—

More intuitive than we think, right?

Right. You've put out other music this year, some really great songs, including the title track for your upcoming album. What's your main hope for this album?

That it's just a great album start to finish. All the songs are different in different ways, but the production and my voice is the through-line. I really want people to listen through start to finish, and listen to the story when I'm singing, and the words. Because as much as I love production, it's like production is just kind of like the clothes that are worn by the lyrics. Really my goal is to have everything feel like it was meant to be. There's fast songs, there's slow songs, and all this other good sh*t on there. There are songs that are more conceptual, and songs that are pop songs, and that's kind of how I write, I just let it come out. 



Are you producing, or co-producing, on the album?

Yeah, I produced the whole thing. My co-producer is my engineer, but I produce everything. A couple people came by and helped out on songs. My friend Tim Anderson helped produce "Prophet." My friend Tao has a song on the record. He's a really talented producer, young and grew up in the studio with Mark, kind of, a little bit these last few years. He was around for that whole thing, so it was just really cool that people in my direct community worked on the record.

What's your favorite part of the collaborative process?

When you call someone you know would be good at something and just say, "Hey, can you come in and do your work, do what you do?" I think the problem with collaborations is when you end up overextending yourself, and neither party has a specific thing to give. I love bringing in people very specifically, like, my band when I need somebody to come play a ripping guitar solo, like I'll get Jonah to come out and play.

When I really want some incredible live instrumentation, Mark sets up a session with Tommy and the Dap-Kings for me. That sht is really special. My friend Tobias Jesso, Jr. sang on a song. That was like a real last minute, like "I need you to come sing on this thing. I need your help." He just came and f*king killed it.

Last question. I can't not ask about the Meryl Streep scream techno. What inspired that? Are you going to make more techno-leaning tracks?

I have so many [remixes], on SoundCloud. I have a whole folder full, it's called "Remixes." My music is so sad and serious, that there needs to be some sort of creative output that's funny, and gives me joy, and makes my friends laugh. This was this thing that I started to do, that I was just like, "This would be so fking funny." It started with a "Jesus Take the Wheel" remix that I've actually never leaked. I meant to put that one out. So, the first one was a "Jesus Take the Wheel" remix. It goes very hard. I was reinventing these stories that these songs told. I love to do that such a thing. With Meryl, that one for me was just like, the minute I saw that scene, I was like, "That's my next remix." The scream is incredible, tonally. "Mary-Luiz (Plz Plz)," honey, is going to be the next theme song for Big Little Lies

 

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.