In a time where female empowerment and liberation are at the forefront of society – and about time too! – there are many strong, powerful, and creative women that are inspiring many across the globe, one of which is British songstress Mae Muller.
Rising to fame in a short space of time, Mae first began exploring her love for music and performing throughout her childhood before releasing her first track on SoundCloud back in 2016 – since then it’s been nothing, but an up-hill climb for the London native. From joining Little Mix on tour, to dropping a slew of candid singles from “Therapist”, “Anticlimax”, to “so annoying” and more, her authentic sound, butter-like vocals and vibrant nature have seen her accumulate an ever-growing fan base that will undoubtedly send her to pop stardom!
The female force was recently given the opportunity to shine light on five of her talented all-female crew, Jaime Jarvis (stylist), Zara Ali (make-up artist), Hanya Fathi (best friend and music PA), Prinny Rae and Amber Leaux (friends and podcasters) alongside her, in a fresh campaign curated by PUMA to champion women in the music industry with the launch of their PUMA Mayze trainers.
Clash got the chance to catch up with Mae Muller to speak about all things female empowerment, navigating the industry, her go-to power-banger and more. Tap in below to see what Mae had to say!
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How have you been? How have you been finding the past 12 months?
I have been good; I’ve been going out for some outside drinks which has been fun! Everyone’s spirits are high, and the weather is so nice! Obviously there has been a lot of ups and down, for a long-time people were saying “You’re doing really well! You have done so much with this pandemic!” and I thought it’s actually been really hard, I’m not sure why everyone has been pretending it’s fine and dandy. Live music has been a huge part of my journey and my trajectory and that got taken away which was hard, but once we got our heads around that it gave me time to sit and think, it made realise how important the people around me are like the team I have, and it’s made us much closer. My writing got better because there was nothing else to do! *laughs*
Has this past year helped shape your music going forward in any way at all?
Yeah! I think it has, being in isolation for a long time does affect how your mind works and it made me be at one with my thoughts which changed my music a little bit. During lockdown I leaned more towards Pop, which is interesting. I don’t know if that’s anything to do with the pandemic, but it made me realise that I want to be a popstar! I got into my pop bag even more, I’ve definitely been experimenting!
Before we get into the campaign, I would love if you could tell us a bit more about the early stages of your journey and how you carved out your career as an artist?
It was crazy. I have always enjoyed writing, I used to do creative writing at school; I always knew I wanted to perform but I had no idea how it happened. I remember saying “How do you get to that stage? How do people notice you? How do you get a record deal?”, I didn’t know what that was until I was around 17 years old. I was working in a pub and I thought to myself, I am not going to lose anything by putting something out there so I put a song on SoundCloud, you can still see it! It snowballed from there and that is when I met my management and started getting into different sessions.
When you were growing up, were there any leading ladies that you used to look up to or were inspired by?
For sure! I listened to Florence + The Machine a lot, I went to see her in Shepherds Bush, and it was one of the first concerts I had been to and I knew every word. Even though our writing styles are quite different she is such an amazing storyteller, and she is very visual and that really inspired me. I knew I wanted to write stories; I wanted my songs to be visual so when you close your eyes you are able to see them. Lily Allen was a big one, she made me realise that you can be and sound like yourself and not have to change the way you are.
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When you think of female empowerment, what are the first things that come to mind?
Women empowerment is being able to be yourself and be given the space to live freely with no compromise about who you are. It’s also about being given a platform to share your story and I think that’s why it was so nice for me to be a part of this PUMA campaign; with #SheMovesUs, that’s what it’s all about, the fact I could bring all my crew and friends in is great! It’s about women doing what they want to do without anyone else telling them what should or shouldn’t be done! This is what I believe in, this is what I want, and I am going to go and get it for myself and nobody else is going to stop me. That’s really hard, especially for women when you are told throughout your whole life what you shouldn’t do, what you shouldn’t wear, how you should sit and be, it’s about finding what you want and defying all the odds.
I was looking on your YouTube and noticed you’ve been doing a #Maezine segment! Tell me a bit more about this and how you went about selecting the women you spoke with?
In lockdown I started #Maezine, I started it because I was a bit bored, and I needed another creative outlet! *laughs* I thought it would be nice to bring others in, in this industry you spend so much time talking about yourself and what you are going through, I thought it would be nice to do something where I am asking the questions and I am learning from other people.
I interviewed Chloe Howl who was an artist and is now a sex coach and activist and I learnt so much from her. I did one with Megan Barton Hanson which was interesting; there were so many amazing women, I felt so lucky to be able to do it!
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Are there any women in particular that you wish you could have a conversation with?
Rihanna! Straight up! There are so many more, but she is everything that I think is right in the world, she does it with such normality which I really respect. Hopefully when I get to that level and people talk to me, I wouldn’t want them to think “Oh, she’s up there and we’re down here!”, Rihanna is a global phenomenon but in interviews she is so human, and I love that about her! I would learn a lot from her, she is my idol!
Rihanna is everyone’s idol, she’s that babe!
She really is! She is the people’s idol!
What does it mean to you to be a part of a campaign like this with PUMA?
It meant so much to me because there aren’t a lot of opportunities where I get to choose who I bring on the campaigns and be in the front of the camera with me. It was important to show that it’s never a one-man show and there is always a whole team of people who are involved. It’s nice to show your friends who help build you up to where you are today. It was so much fun!
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You have an incredible team behind you that are filled with strong and creative women. In what ways do your team inspire you? How important is it to have those people around you?
It’s so important, it’s easy to forget that when you work towards something and you have a particular goal and everyone is working towards achieving it, that everyone does have their individual lives and they all go through their own stuff. There have been times where my friends or team have been going through something and seeing the strength they have to show up and do what they need to for everyone to win is amazing. All the friends that I have, I’ve had them for around 15 years, and they keep me so grounded. It’s important to have those things around you and its ultimately about trust and it means everything – I don’t know where I would be without them!
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What has your experience been like as a woman in the music industry?
I think I have been fairly lucky! I have worked with such amazing people but being a woman in the industry I do find I get compared quite a lot which I think doesn’t happen as much and I found that a little bit annoying. With women, why can’t we just be who we are and say what we want to without “Oh, they’re like that person!” – most of the time they are lazy comparisons anyway and it could be that we both just have brown hair, there are no other musical similarities!
I would love to start seeing more women though, a lot of the time when you go to these meetings and the execs are there, the presidents are mostly men. How do they know what’s best for me? A room of middle-aged men doesn’t make sense! The co-president of my label is a woman, and she is amazing, and she has really fought and believed in me and she doesn’t take any sh*t! I’m lucky to have that experience because a lot of people haven’t.
Do you think there is pressure around women in the industry to be friends?
No, I think girls just genuinely want that! I want nothing more than to bring other girls up, I think there is pressure to tare each other down. Sometimes it can be the easier thing to do and once you go down that road, you are on the road to misery because being happy for people is so much better for your soul. We just want to see each other win! Of course, you aren’t going to be best friends with everyone that’s just life, now more than ever we all just want to see each other win. If I see another female artist or girl doing something and I think “I wish I had that”, I think ok that’s sick and I need to work on myself to get to that place and that’s what you have to turn it into! She got there, she is smashing it, let me see what I can do, and I’ll meet her there – there is room for us all!
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I think it’s really important that you have that mindset because a lot of women aren’t quite there yet, and it really is a self-love journey.
Yeah! It is hard because your whole life you are put up against each other! Even in school, we’d have who’s the hottest girl in the year or who is the ugliest girl in the year – that is so mean and cruel! For the most of our teenage years we were put up against each other mostly for the way we look so it’s ingrained in our brains so to think outside of that does take a lot of time but once you get there, you realise how much nicer it is!
What advice would you give to women who are looking to enter a creative realm like yourself?
I would say just make that first move. I know it sounds quite simple and silly but the amount of time I spent dilly-dallying because I didn’t think I could do it – I wasted so much time! Even if its that first video of you singing on Instagram, people are going to judge no matter what you do in life so you might as well just do it. Whatever you are doubting about starting, you have got to try and push that aside and do it! Try not to compare yourself, you will but don’t spend too much of your energy on it because every journey is different, and I still have to tell myself that to this day because I will have days where I don’t think that I am good enough. Put that energy into something else!
You come across as a very confident girl and I’m sure that’s not every day like you just said, where do you think you stream your confidence from?
When you know yourself – like truly know yourself – you get to that point where you know you are a good person, you know you are talented and that you deserve to be here and I never thought like that before. Once you finally get over that; of course, I am really grateful, but I am also here because I worked really hard, and I’ve got to space now so that’s helped with my confidence. It took a journey though! Thinking about the person I was just a year ago, I have grown so much, and you have to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. It hasn’t always been easy; I am still working on it!
Is there a female power-banger you have to kick start your day with so you’re ready to conquer the world?
So many! “Juicy” by Doja Cat, I BANG that song out! I have been listening to that song for two years, you know those songs that every time you play them it slaps – I will be in the mirror like I am the sexiest woman in the world! *laughs* That is one of my power bangers!
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Listen: Mae Muller 'Dependent'
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Words: Elle Evans
Photography: Olivia Richardson