I’ve spent the afternoon with Mae Muller, but she tells me her dream date is Rihanna. Whose isn’t? We’re in North London, a stone’s-throw from where she grew up. Muller’s been hitting power poses to Ri’s “Work” in hip-skimming metallic boots: pray-you-bump-into-your-ex, kind of boots.
Besides the obvious, she most admires Rihanna’s individuality: “She’s got a very specific style. That’s really important; I want people to hear a Mae Muller song and not be able to mistake it for anyone else.”
It’s clear Muller knows exactly who she is, which has enabled her to cultivate her own distinctive, velvety blend of pop and R&B. After just a year in the industry, the 20 year-old carries herself with enviable confidence, but admits she hasn’t always felt so secure – though her debut EP “After Hours” is marked by an assertive approach to relationships, Muller’s only recently learnt to voice her opinions unapologetically. “I wasn’t like that when I was younger,” she explains, “but in my music I can lay it all out.” Enthusiastic about helping other young girls do the same, whenever she’s writing, she asks herself: “what would 15-year-old me want to hear right now?” Today, it’s “don’t ever settle, speak your mind and it’ll work out.”
Her will to stand with, rather than against, other women is a theme that permeates her lyrics too. “There’s so much competition for girls, we’re always being put up against each other but it doesn’t need to be like that”, she says of her track “Jenny”, in which she befriends her ex’s new girl. Comparison is something she feels strongly against, speaking with candour about the more toxic landscapes of social media. “You can get quite lost in it. I’ve had to be strict and not compare myself to other people, it really can affect you.”
Inevitably, her frankness has garnered a faithful community of fans. After her most recent single “Pull Up”, a tired dismissal of a lousy man (too relevant, 2018), she was flooded with indignant messages demanding: “Who broke your heart?” Muller tells me making music is a remedy for heartache, as well as for keeping her best self in check. “Hearing it back helps me too!” She laughs, “if I’ve been fucked over by someone and I hear my song, I’ll think: ‘I’m not having it, no!’” Cheers to that; take your own advice, boys and girls.
Taken from the Autumn 2018 issue; out now and available to buy here.