With a range of influences and the talent to match, 22-year-old pop songwriter Mae Muller has proven herself a force to be reckoned with.
Stream: “Therapist” – Mae Muller
London’s newest musician on the rise, Mae Muller, is making a large leap in the scene and on the airwaves. Sonically, Muller has been previously categorized as “pop”. However, there’s also hints of an R&B and jazz-like influence underneath. This is most notable on her second most recent single, “Therapist” — where Muller’s larger-than-life vocals and blunt songwriting style manage to set her apart.
I appreciate the effort
But it will take much more
than that to get me in your bedroom
‘Cause I love just how much you adore me
But your ego’s so big it gets boring
I see you riding in the rain
Showing off to people that
don’t even know your name
Did that work on the girls just before me?
Boy, I know that there’s more to your story
Muller’s newest release, “I Don’t Want Your Money” manages to stay true to her musical style, while also showing she is able to expand. Through discussing the song’s themes of expressing a women’s independence, Muller mentioned she also wanted to craft a love song that felt true to who she was — wanting a connection on a deeper level, with love and respect, over materialistic objects.
Previously, Muller embarked on a headlining tour in February across Europe. These days, she’s been still keeping busy and positive, from editing music videos at home, spending free time on Duolingo, and posting incredibly relatable clips on TikTok.
In a conversation with Atwood Magazine, singer-songwriter Mae Muller discusses her various releases from “I Don’t Want Your Money”, “Jenny”, and “Anticlimax” (with this piece written on the one year anniversary). Muller also elaborates on her songwriting, touring with Little Mix, and various inspirations in music that had an impact on her.
But it’s getting long of hiding all
So, baby, if I spell it out
Would you settle down, oh
‘Cause I don’t want your money, baby
I just want your love
It must be some other girl
That you are thinking of
‘Cause I don’t want a penny, babe
I promise that it’s true
Why would I want your money when
I’ve been making so much more than you?
A CONVERSATION WITH MAE MULLER
Atwood Magazine: Hey Mae, how’s it going over there?
Mae Muller: It’s good. I mean, obviously, I’m just used to it now to be honest.
Have you taken up any new hobbies? I saw you tweeted about the Duolingo bird a few days ago.
Muller: I feel like that Duolingo bird is angry at me. I’m not committed as much as it would like me to. I’ve been doing a little bit here and there, but it’s weird, I’ve actually been quite busy. Also, I’ve been doing a lot of content and covers and finishing up demos and things, so I’ve managed to keep myself busy somehow.
I saw you also did a Zoom party during the week “I Don’t Want Your Money” dropped.
Muller: Yes, I did, that was so sweet. I love Zoom. My manager and stuff, they obviously have like 50 million Zoom calls a day, but a Zoom call for me is a highlight. I’m like, “Yes! I get to talk to other people.”
So, getting into more questions about the music: “I Don’t Want Your Money” is a track basically about earning your own and not relying on expectations or other people. Is this something you’ve personally experienced or what inspired the song?
Muller: I think what inspired it is I wanted to write a love song, because a lot of my songs are sort of like “I don’t need anyone and men are trash.” It’s fun doing that stuff, but for this song, I was like, “You know, I want to write a nice song about I really like this person. I want this to work, but he doesn’t need to do all that extra stuff to impress me.” When he’s showing off and being all flash, it just kind of ticks me off. So, it’s just about not needing those materialistic things, because when you are financially independent, you know, I can do that all to myself. You need to offer me things that I can’t give to myself. You need to give me attention and your love and your respect. I think that’s more what it’s about.
For the song’s music video, was that shot remotely?
Muller: Yeah. I shot that music video on my iPhone, because I had to do it in isolation. At the very beginning, when I was just sort of coming up with the ideas and stuff, I did feel overwhelmed. Usually all my music videos, I’ve had a whole team and a crew and very very collaborative. This time was completely different. It was just me in my room with my phone. I was like, “Oh my goodness. How am I gonna do this?” I think the more and more I shot and as the days went on, I was like, “This is actually working.” I’m actually so happy though, because it kind of showed me that I can work with what I’ve got. I did feel really nervous about it, but it’s actually one of my favorite videos, so it all turned out well.
Do you feel like, in the quarantine, it’s made you sort of push your creative boundaries?
Muller: Definitely. In a way, I think obviously before I would never had recorded my own vocals… I know a lot of other artists do that, but for me, I just solely focus on the writing process. This time obviously, I don’t have anyone here to do that with me, so I’ve been recording my vocals and producing them. It’s been really like a whole new learning curve, because I didn’t even have Logic downloaded on my laptop. So, I bought that and I got a whole little setup going. It definitely pushed me in that way where I’m just learning how to do more behind-the-scenes kind of stuff. Sometimes, it’s quite hard because creating for me is all about collaborating and being around inspiring people. When that’s been taken away, it can be quite hard sometimes. I think I’ve managed so far, so I can push a little bit more.
Do you have a specific process when it comes to writing and creating a song?
Muller: It’s kind of different all the time. Obviously, it’s something personal for me and I always just want to be as honest as I can, but the actual process of how I do it is really different. Nine times out of ten, I won’t have an idea until I get to the studio and I’ve sat down with the producer and felt out the vibe. So, it just depends on how I’m feeling and then it comes out in however way it wants to. It’s really odd. I don’t have a clear answer really cos I don’t even know where it comes from sometimes. I’ll write something and be like, “Where the hell did that come from? How did I even think of that?” It’s different all the time, but definitely depends on what mood I’m in and what I’m going through.
Are there any specific producers you enjoy working with?
Muller: Yeah. I think there’s definitely a few. Jimmy Napes, he’s gone on “I Don’t Want Your Money” and he did “Anticlimax” which are all such close songs to me. We just worked really, really well and I really respect him, because he just wants to get the best out of whoever he’s working with. There are some times, we’ll come up with an idea and he’ll be like, “Would you say that? It needs to sound like you.” There’s not a lot of producers out there that are like that, that really care about your identity first. It’s quite refreshing. We just always get a good song. I think, for me, the less people in the room, the better. With Jimmy, I don’t need a writer. I don’t need anybody else, so it’s quite nice that it’s just sort of me and him figuring it out which I enjoy.
For the live version of “I Don’t Want Your Money,” what show was it recorded from?
Muller: It was from my HEAVEN show, which was on my first headline tour. It was a sold out show in London. There was like 1300 people there, so it was definitely my biggest show that I’ve done, like my own show. It was honestly just so amazing to play unreleased songs for it to get such a great kind of feedback. There’s one line in the song, where it’s sort of the main punchline in the chorus where it goes, “Why would I want your money, when I’ve been making so much more than you?” Even though no one had heard it before, the whole crowd was just like, “Oh my god!!” It was definitely a good feeling to get that reaction. I was like, “Yes! They like it.”
Had you done that before with any other songs?
Muller: So, I supported a girl band called Little Mix on their UK tour. We were literally doing arenas, like every night. I performed “Therapist,” which is out now, but on that tour it wasn’t, so I was playing that unreleased song every single night. It’s quite daunting. You have no idea how it’s gonna, you know, go down, but I think it’s always such a great way to test the waters of the song to just play it live and get it out there. So yeah, every show that I do, I always try and sing at least one unreleased song. I think the fans appreciate it as well.
Do you have any plans to set new tour dates? Or has that shifted a little bit?
Muller: I mean, obviously, it changed, you know. I basically had a tour booked for November, but I’m kind of lucky. We hadn’t announced it yet, so we didn’t really have to let anyone down, because no one knew it was happening. We’re in the process of moving that around. So, it will definitely be happening, but it’s just when. It’s something to look forward to, I suppose. It is a shame, because live music is such a huge thing for so many people, you know, artists, and for their fans, it’s just such a relief. But, I guess there’s bigger things going on, so we just have to sit tight and be creative in other ways. At some point, we will be out on stage again.
What’s your favorite part of playing live shows?
Muller: I mean, I love it. I love it all. Performing is definitely one of my favorite things about this whole thing. I just think hearing people sing your lyrics back to you… A lot of the songs that I’ve written they have, even though a lot of them are quite cheeky and they’re quite funny, a lot of them come to a place of pain. So, seeing that kind of turn is such a beautiful thing, when you know you’ve got all these people singing the lyrics back to you and you can see how it affected them and how much they relate. I think that’s definitely my favorite part. You can’t trade that feeling for anything. It’s crazy.
Is there a place, either a city or venue, that you’ve either loved playing at or hope to visit on tour one day?
Muller: I think obviously like the O2 arena, which is like 20,000 people. I’ve seen so many of my idols there. We played there supporting Little Mix, but to do your own show would just be the dream. I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. Whenever I go to that venue, I always imagine what my show is going to be like when I manage to play there. So, yeah, definitely that one.
Who had you seen play there in the past?
Muller: I’ve seen Drake. I’ve seen Ariana Grande. My mind’s going blank now, but I’ve literally been there.. I saw Kings of Leon, which was really random, but I used to love them when I was younger. I’ve seen Beyoncé there. I’m very lucky, I’ve seen a lot of live shows. I’ve seen all the greats really.
Are there any artists you’re listening to now that you really enjoy?
Muller: Yeah, I love Julia Michaels. I’ve been listening to a lot of Julia Michaels. I love Lauv. I think he’s great. I love the Dua Lipa album. I mean, she’s one of my favorites. I just think she’s doing such an amazing job. I think those three are my sort of quarantine faves.
Have you had any surreal moments interacting with other musicians, maybe even ones you've looked up to?
Muller: Yes, I have. Definitely. So, my sort of person growing up.. I used to listen to Lily Allen. A lot. She was one of my favorite artists. She kind of made me realize that you can just write songs, sing, still sound like yourself, be really honest with your stories, and not care what people think. Since I was like ten, I’ve just been kind of obsessed with her. I remember I was in a cafe with my dad. She was just sat in the same cafe as us. Then, she looked at me and she waved and blew me a kiss and I was like, “Oh my god. Lily Allen knows who I am. This is crazy.” And we went to leave and she was stood by the desk. She gave me a hug and she was like, “How are you? I see you’re doing well.” It was such a crazy moment, because it’s like someone you look up to so much. I didn’t even need to introduce myself to her, which was really crazy. Yeah, definitely surreal moments.
Had you guys met before that?
Muller: I think she must’ve… So now, we follow each other on Instagram now. I think it must’ve just been through music. I think she just heard who I was and might’ve seen my stuff. It was quite mad. That was definitely an eye-opening moment. I was like, “Wow. Life is crazy.”
Yeah. I mean all of her records, they range in sound but they're still her. She's just a great lyricist.
Muller: Yeah. You know, I say, I don’t think I’d be making music if it wasn’t for her. She kind of paved the way for me and so many others. I’m quite grateful for that. I think, obviously, I have my own sound and I’m going to go do my own thing, but I just think you have to respect the people that have been there. She just kind of showed me that you don’t have to conform to what other people say and how other people think you should do things. She’s obviously done her own thing her whole career and I think that’s great. I think that’s so cool.
Out of all your songs, has there been a favorite lyric you’ve written?
Muller: I mean, the lyrics in the song “Jenny” where it goes: “You think you’re sitting pretty having your fun / I met your girl the other day we got our nails done / And she was telling me that you can’t make her / You never make her…” It’s a very early lyric of mine, like my second single, but it’s always stayed with me. When I wrote that, I just remember feeling really proud of myself. Yeah, that’s definitely one of them.
That’s a creative technique, in a sense, because your brain automatically wants to fill in the rhyme, even though it’s not explicitly said.
Muller: Exactly. It’s not giving it all away, but it’s giving them a little taster, which I quite like to do.
Are you working on possibly releasing a new record soon? I know you’ve put out a couple songs, but if something larger is in the works.
Muller: Yes, definitely. I mean, we’re still in the very very beginning stages. I’ve got so much unreleased music and it’s just where it goes and what fits. We’re thinking about it. I’m finishing up a lot of writing that I want to be on the album. I don’t have a date and I’m in no way in a rush to release. One, because I think I have time and with these sorts of things, it’s really important to release at the right time. I think I deserve that and to give it the credit that it deserves. I’m really excited about it. It’s definitely something happening in the near future, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Do you have any hopes or goals for anywhere from the next six months to a year?
Muller: I think, within the next year, I hope to… I want to have a charting single, you know? I think that will definitely happen, but that moment where that successful on a wider level is always something to look forward to. I’m just looking forward to touring again. The next tour is gonna be bigger and better. The next tour, it’s something I’m working on and I’m looking forward to. Hopefully, it will be within the next year.
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