“I haven’t got dressed yet.” Today, like the majority of the population, singer-songwriter Mae Muller is leaning into her first week of self-isolation. “I’ve got my fluffy slippers on that I bought while I was on tour. Some striped pyjamas and a Ben Sherman T-shirt. I wake up in the most random clothes,” she laughs. While increased boredom is admittedly settling in, the 22-year-old rising star is enjoying watching people singing their hearts out to spark joy in these uncertain times, from Italian citizens performing ballads from their balconies during a national lockdown to artists sharing concerts live from their living room on social media. “It may sounds obvious, but music really does bring people together.”
Creative stimulation was in no short supply growing up: her mother works in theatre costume design and her aunt is a music video director. There was no Plan B: music was always the endgame. “I would write songs in my diary all the time [but] nobody would ever see them,” she says. “Until I was 19 years old and released my first song to the world on SoundCloud.” Her music, which she describes as “tongue-in-cheek” R&B, often draws from her own experiences in love and life. She co-wrote her latest track, Therapist, to help empower other women who may be going through a similar situation she found herself in in a previous relationship. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory: The more I listen and I listen / The more I'm thinking / You don't need a girlfriend / You just need a therapist / You got too much drama / I'm not qualified to fix.
“It was based on my own experience, but I think it’s the case for so many women,” she explains. “You know when a guy is like, ‘oh yeah they [my girlfriend] are so good to me – no one else can put up with me?’ That’s a red flag to me. Why does she have to put up with so much s**t. Why can’t you just be nice to her? I learned the hard way, but it’s just realising you are worth more than that. It’s hard for me [because] I just want to give people love and I’m like ‘I can fix you. I can be the cure to this!’ But really they need to find happiness in themselves.”
Below, the one-to-watch shares the artist who has lifted her up and inspired her the most.
I was screaming - I literally knew every word. I was like ‘this woman is not human?!’ I used to listen to Lungs on repeat and cry over boys – I was 11 years old, so I have no idea who I was crying over [laughs]. I was just so in awe of her.
Even though our music is quite different I just love how theatrical she is and how every single song is so visual. That’s always something I say with my music, ‘I want people to be able to see it.’ With Florence [Welch], you listen to her music, close your eyes and you just get taken to a different world and you really see it, and believe everything she’s saying.
I think if you need a little boost in any way, inspiration or just a little kick up the backside listen to Lungs - it’s just bursting full of energy and different ideas. I would listen to it in bed, headphones on, with the light off. My favourite song of hers is Cosmic Love – it just takes you to another realm. So, if you want to be taken away from reality for a little bit, this is the album.
Also, music aside, in terms of her style she always looks really comfortable in what she’s wearing. It’s very authentic. I still feel like I’m still figuring my personal style out, but I’d say maybe it’s casual-glam: I love accessorising, but I'd pair big earrings with a cool tracksuit. I wore a corset on stage once in Berlin and kind of regret it - I was like ‘I can’t actually sing in this!’ Of course, there’s quite a lot of pressure to look your best all the time but I think as long as you're comfortable that’s the main thing.”
Mae Muller’s single ‘Therapist’ is out now
Portraits by Rosaline Shahnavaz
supporting imagery | shutterstock