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Mae Muller on ‘honest’ debut album, bouncing back after Eurovision and ‘p***ing off the right people’ 

Exclusive: "The pressure did get to me and it was it was really, really, really intense"

By Charlotte Manning

Mae Muller has a very exciting few months ahead of her (Image: Harry Carr/Capitol/EMI)
Mae Muller has a very exciting few months ahead of her (Image: Harry Carr/Capitol/EMI)

Mae Muller has just dropped her debut album months after quickly becoming a household name with the help of a little known event called Eurovision, but she shows no sign of slowing down just yet. 

The 26-year-old has all the qualities you want in a popstar in 2023. She’s sassy, fun, loves her fans to the death, and is seriously talented. And she’s worked very hard to be here too. While some could see coming second last at Eurovision in their home nation as a place to admit defeat, Mae has used it to her strength. Bouncing back in the typical self-deprecating style we see run through her debut record and fan interactions has allowed her to truly own her shit.  

Mae’s first record Sorry I’m Late has been five years in the making. Out now, after several pushbacks, it was worth the wait. It’s been beautifully put together, and she leaves pretty much no stone unturned in the 17 track-long piece. The London-born star gives us a window into her experiences of 21st century heartbreak, frustration with the current dating scene, her struggles with anxiety and even makes time for a (more relevant than ever) exploration of the male gaze. 

Amongst the tracklist are songs she wrote half a decade ago, yet still feel as fresh as ever, and give an insight into her want to stay as authentic to herself as possible. Mae describes the “cathartic” process of going back through her back catalogue and selecting what to include: “Even the songs I wrote years ago still ring really true,” she begins. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, God, I said that so long ago, I would never say that now’. I haven’t really felt the need to go back and change a whole bunch of stuff. What I’m singing about and writing about, they were my true and honest feelings. Even though I might be in a different position now, that was still honest and that’s how I felt at the time, it’s still relatable.”

“Even the songs I wrote years ago still ring really true,” – Mae Muller

Mae recognises how much she’s been able to grow and flourish throughout the past half a decade, too. “To listen back to [older songs] is also really nice, because I could see the growth [in myself]. There aren’t many other circumstances where you would be able to literally hear your own personal growth in such a way. It’s kind of a trip, but it’s definitely a learning experience, for sure.”

Of course, the lyrics of her lead single ‘I Wrote A Song’ are already very much ingrained into the minds of all Eurovision fans. While she recognises she didn’t gain “the result we hoped for”, she showed a huge amount of strength in her response, taking her typical not-so-serious approach. It’s no surprise fans rallied behind her in the aftermath. She flew up to No 9 in the Official Charts the week after the contest came to a close.

Reflecting on her experience, she admits the pressure did get to her, but has no regrets at all. “Hindsight is a beautiful thing,” she tells me. “Looking back on it now… it was obviously an amazing experience, one in a million. I don’t regret it at all. The main thing was, I just learned so much about being an artist, being a performer, and the pressures that can come with that. Even though I’ve been [a performer] for a long time, you know, this is not my first rodeo, but I’ve never done anything like that before.”

She continues: “Even though I’m used to performing, and I love touring and meeting fans and writing, it’s not been on that kind of scale with that kind of pressure. I really had to learn quickly how to navigate that and process. The pressure did get to me and it was it was really, really, really intense. You can only understand if you’re in it.”

“[The LGBTQ+ community] have always been [supportive] of me before Eurovision, but obviously after Eurovision it was on a different level”

Mae says she said yes to Eurovision as a way to “connect with people” and “bring joy”, adding: “Eurovision is such a joyous thing. That’s what [me participating] did. Obviously, the result is not what we had hoped for, but what I wanted out of it, l got out of it. I’m hoping people got a lot of joy out of it as well, but that’s the thing, looking back at it now, I think, ‘Oh, my gosh, what a whirlwind!’ I’m lucky to have even experienced that. There’s not many people that will be able to say that they did that, but it was intense.”

Mae Muller
Mae “stands by” comments made on social media that attracted criticism (Image: Harry Carr/Capitol/EMI,Harry Carr)

In the run-up, she face being at the receiving end of some negative press attention in the from outlets such as the Daily Mail and GB News, after some old tweets resurfaced. Luckily, it didn’t seem to faze her one bit. Comments highlighted included telling followers “I hate this country” in a row over free school meals, branding the Conservative Party “racist and elitist” and telling JK Rowling “God you’re annoying,” in response to one of the Harry Potter creator’s now very on-brand barrage of gender critical tweets. 

“I remember that coming [back] up,” she says of the Rowling tweet. “Obviously a part of me was like, ‘Oh, shit,’ but then I was like, ‘I stand by what I said’. I don’t think the TERFS (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) were very happy, but that’s okay. A lot of my tweets that were brought up, people didn’t like, but I genuinely believe there’s such a thing as like pissing off the right people. I don’t seek validation from bigots… so that’s quite okay with me!” she laughs.

Through situations like the above, Mae quickly showed up as an unwavering LGBTQ+ ally. As well as appearing at numerous festivals over the summer, she’s also played the likes of Brighton Pride, to thousands of attendees dancing through the pouring rain (“I thought, if you’re getting wet, I might as well get wet as well. I performed half the set on that little run thing, we’re all in this together babes!”) and a headline show at G-A-Y earlier this month. Mae reaffirms her support for the queer community in our interview, who she says bring her “so much joy” and make up a massive part of her fanbase. 

“[The LGBTQ+ community] have always been [supportive] of me before Eurovision, but obviously after Eurovision it was on a different level. I’ve always just felt so supported by them,” she explains. “I always want my music to be a safe space for everyone. I’ve always felt very safe in LGBTQ+ spaces. I love going to gay clubs, gay bars… that’s where I have the most fun. Being around my LGBTQ+ friends, I just feel like so accepted. I feel like it’s only right that I like return that energy and I just every single time like I have a tour, I have a show I have a gig like I just want everyone to feel the love.” Mae adds that she “couldn’t have done Eurovision without them” and says now is a time to “be able to give back and show my appreciation.” 

Mae Muller
Mae has given her thoughts on who should represent the UK for Eurovision in 2024 (Image: Windfall Films,Rafael Libson-Hochenberg)

Of course, fans are already looking to see who might follow on from Mae when Eurovision returns to Sweden in 2024. When I ask Mae who’d she’d love to take to the stage next year, she quickly responds with a name I’ve never heard before. “My friend July Jones, who is such an amazing artist and songwriter. I know that she loves Eurovision and I know she has an interest in doing it. She would be so perfect, she’s definitely got a strong message, she’s got something to say. I’m flying the July Jones flag right now for Eurovision!” Guess we’ll have to watch this space…

“More shows, more shows, more music, all that good stuff!” 

And she’s got another UK pop girlie firmly at the top of her collaboration wishlist: Rina Sawayama. “I’ve loved her music for so long. I remember last time I was in LA, which was last December, I saw her live, and I just think she’s always incredible artist.” The ‘This Hell’ singer previously confirmed since she was also approached to represent the UK at Eurovision this year. However, she claimed when she went back to make her interest clear, she “never heard any more” about it. The gig ultimately went to Mae.

But Mae is full of nothing but love for Rina, adding: “Because of the whole like Eurovision thing, [a collaboration] would just be so iconic. People did their best to try like pit us against each other, which is so ridiculous, because we’re such different artists. Also, I’d never want to even try and be in the same lane as Rina, because Rina has… created her own lane. I just think we could just do a fucking bad bitch pop power moment!” 

The rest of her year is focused on getting her album out there to the masses, calling the record “the biggest thing in my career”. There’s more singles on the way too, and a dip into the world of acting to come in early 2024. “I’ve got a film coming out, at the beginning of next year,” she teases “It’s called Gassed Up, which I’m really, really excited about.” Set during the peak of a wave of moped crimes sweeping London, the George Amponsah debut feature film will launch on Prime Video in the coming months. Mae adds: “[Acting] is something I’m definitely wanting to go into more, I love acting. It’s something that I get a lot of joy from. Apart from that, more shows, more shows, more music, all that good stuff!”