In an industry that still prefers its female stars quietly compliant, Mae Muller is the most enticing of propositions: a rising songwriting talent intent on telling it precisely like it is. Frank, funny, and endlessly relatable, the Little Mix and Sam Smith-approved singer is breathing new life into pop with her street-smart yet soulful compositions, and empowering others to speak their truths in the process.
Sat in her local today – just a stone’s throw from where she grew up in North London – she admits that this directness didn’t always come naturally to her. “There have been a lot of times in my life when I haven’t stood up for myself the way I wanted. So I use my music now almost as a kind of armour, and maybe as a way of being the voice for someone else who doesn’t feel like they can speak up yet.”
Though she fondly recalls the music of Prince and Sade soundtracking much of her childhood, it was creative writing – and not music – that was Mae’s first love; a fact that follows when you consider her storytelling prowess today. But as she began discovering her own songwriting heroes in Gwen Stefani, Florence Welch and Lily Allen, the balance ultimately shifted in favour of music.
Remarkably, Mae was 19 before she wrote her first song, ‘Close’, which was produced by a family friend, “paid” for with wine in lieu of actual money, and created an immediate industry buzz once uploaded to Soundcloud. Looking back today on her relatively late start in music, Mae has zero regrets. “I feel really lucky that in a way I’ve lived a relatively normal life,” she smiles. “All the friends I have, I’ve had for fifteen to twenty years and I think that’s really, really important, especially in this industry. Plus, I can draw on experiences I had when I was 15, because I was running around and doing whatever I wanted and nobody was looking at me.”
This unfiltered approach has informed Mae’s output since day dot. Debut single ‘Jenny’ found her befriending the sidechick of her two-timing boyfriend, while ‘Side Piece’ from 2018’s aptly-titled ‘Frankly’ EP saw her putting her overkeen lover in his place with lines like, “The only thing I need to know is where your bed is.” On her newest releases she’s going even further.
Dissecting dysfunctional relationships and inconvenient emotions with wit and verve her recent EP, no one else, not even you marked a new creative peak for the North Londoner. There’s ‘plot twist’, a disarmingly sweet bop about unwittingly catching feelings, which provides the perfect contrast to the brilliantly brutal ‘work like that’, in which she rejects the advances of a cheating suitor with acerbic swipes like, “Get a life, you’re fucking 33.” And in the DallasK-produced ‘HFBD’ she’s written the ultimate anti-birthday anthem. Sonically, the seven-song collection was a huge step forward too, finding Mae’s supple vocals as suited to trap beats as they are funk guitar or acoustic pop, and featuring songwriting collaborations with Rick Nowels (Lana Del Rel, Dua Lipa), Kenny Beats (Aitch, Dominic Fike, FKA Twigs), Skyler Stonestreet (Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber) and Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran). And, as Mae explains, the conversational title of the collection is intended as an expression of self-love. “Obviously a lot of my songs are based on personal experiences, but I asked so often, who is this song about now? And I’m like, you’re putting the whole narrative around other people: this isn’t actually about anyone else – this is about me and my feelings.”
Following the release of the EP, Mae has gone on to release some incredible collaborative singles in the past year seeing her team up with chart-topping duo Billen Ted for “When You’re Out”, renowned rapper Big Zuu for their joint single “I Did It” which has taken TikTok by storm and most recently her forthcoming single “Better Days” with NEIKED and Polo G, which gathered over 150m streams and all sorts of chart-breaking achievements.
Summer 2020 has seen Mae take to festival stages across the UK to huge crowds including the likes of Reading & Leeds, Bestival, Latitude and Sundown Festival.