A conversation with Mae Muller: ‘I have things to say. I have opinions. I am never going to be mute.’
As soon as she answered my Zoom call, I was struck by how grounded Mae Muller was. In her white shirt, big glasses, and slicked-back bun, she seemed a far cry from the high-maintenance diva many may have expected one of the country’s latest rising stars to be. Throughout our conversation, Muller didn’t speak to me like some random student trying to stumble their way through an interview awkwardly, but as a friend. We laughed, reminisced about studying English literature in school, and said “slay” a few too many times along the way too. She was unapologetically herself, answering all my questions with refreshing honesty and quick-witted humour. For someone whose rise to stardom is so inherently linked with the superficial glamour of Eurovision, Muller – both an artist and individual – could not have appeared more authentic.
Despite this, the fact remains that most people will primarily recognise Mae Muller as the UK’s Eurovision contestant. Despite finishing the competition in second-to-last place, Eurovision did play a huge part in increasing Muller’s platform and helping her develop as an artist. In turn, it seemed a good place to start our conversation about all that she had achieved over the last year. When asked about the outcome of the contest Muller laughed, “I never thought I was going to win. I ended up doing the absolute opposite of winning, and that’s okay girl, that’s okay.”
“The song (‘I Wrote A Song’) was already written a week or two before the Eurovision conversation started,” said Muller. TaP Music – the global management and music publishing agency in charge of selecting the UK’s 2023 Eurovision entrant – “heard the song through the grapevine (…) and thought this really sounds like a song for Eurovision.”
Muller was very clear that partaking in the Eurovision Song Contest had never been her original plan but when the offer arose, she knew “it was too much of an opportunity to turn down”. Generally, Muller seemed to reflect on her time as a Eurovision contestant with a lot of nostalgia and warmth. “It was a bit mad and whacky (…) but it was a safe space,”, she noted, “I went on there to connect and travel around with this song. I definitely did that.”
“Sometimes I do just want to write a fun song about shaking my ass”
Yet, behind all the glitz, glamour, and smoke machines, Muller did admit that at times her treatment in the competition had been a “mixed bag”. “There were lots of bits I found really difficult and struggled with,”, admitted Muller. The aspect of her journey Muller seemed to have found hardest to deal with had been the hatred she had faced on social media when she was announced as the UK’s representative. “They saw a girl doing her thing, a girl who maybe had different views to them, looked a certain way. They didn’t like it, and they were like, we are coming for this girl,” explained Muller. Expanding on her experience with facing online trolls, Muller continued “They didn’t ruin it for me, luckily, because there was too much joy in it”. However, despite Muller’s unwavering positivity, the extent of the hatred she had faced online was shocking and I wondered how this had affected her attitude and outlook as an artist today.
Muller said she felt it was the right time “to show that vulnerable side”
Apart from the late addition of her Eurovision hit ‘I Wrote A Song’, Muller said before the competition even began, her debut album was “done and dusted”. Muller did note, however, that the variety of experiences she had dealt with during the Eurovision period had impacted her attitude regarding the release of this new music. During this time, Muller said: “It became clear I have things to say. I have opinions. I am never going to be mute”. It seemed that she had transfigured the backlash she had faced into a quiet source of strength regarding her own future.
Building on this thought, Muller said she felt it was the right time “to show that vulnerable side”, which she had always been more hesitant about, within her new music. Muller was very clear in characterising her new work as the start of a new chapter in her journey as an artist. “My first EPs were very much me putting on a front. It’s all ‘“I’m very bad b*tch, no one can mess with me.’”
“If I can help other people through a situation or make them feel more confident, that’s amazing”
“Sometimes I do just want to write a fun song about shaking my ass,” laughed Muller, “but I’ve grown up writing (…) and I do feel a slight responsibility now, as a lot of young women listen to my music.” This sense of being a role model to younger women bleeds heavily throughout a lot of Muller’s latest album, Sorry I’m Late. From the acoustic honesty of ‘MTJL’, to the passionate feminist undertones of ‘Written By A Woman’, this album emotively displays how pop music can be used to both unite and inspire others. As a 20-year-old woman myself, I felt an unexpected emotional connection to Muller’s work. A lot of her tracks echoed experiences and feelings that I know all too well within my own life.
“If I can help other people through a situation or make them feel more confident, that’s amazing”, said Muller.
A track off Sorry I’m Late we couldn’t help but discuss in more detail was ‘Porn Lied to Us’. The message behind this track, critiquing the expectations set by the adult entertainment industry, seemed refreshing in a genre that often glorifies such unrealistic forms of intimacy. Muller herself was incredibly passionate about the story behind this song. “I have a tendency to be quite a people pleaser (…) and (sex) becomes like a performance,”, reflected Muller. “There is a lot of complexity that comes with being intimate,”, she continued., “I am super happy about this song’s positive reception as I feel like it is something that is not talked about enough.”
Beyond the social significance of Muller’s lyrics – like those in ‘Porn Lied to Us’ – it also seemed imperative to discuss the incredible visual side of her album too. When discussing how important styling and creative vision were in composing this piece of work Muller explained: “I have always loved my work to be visual”. The Sorry I’m Late cover art shows multiple different versions of Muller sitting around a large dinner table. Explaining the creative vision behind this design Muller said: “All the different characters around the table represent a song on the album (…) it is all the different versions of myself I have taken to get here.”
This image felt synonymous with the sense of honesty and openness that made Muller so easy to connect with. Throughout the interview, she gave me an unfiltered snapshot of her remarkable rise to success over the past year. From the highs to the lows and everything in between, Muller had opened up to me without hesitation and, in the space of twenty minutes, reaffirmed why she deserved to be taken seriously as an artist. Muller’s vision was about more than pumping out formulaic tracks that would camouflage into the pop music mainstream. She wanted to write music that made people feel seen. She wanted to send out the kind of messages I would want my 14-year-old sister to listen to throughout her teenage years. Mae Muller is an artist all about challenging the unattainable glossiness of the popular music industry and replacing it with a sense of relatability that makes us feel connected to the artists we listen to in a new and refreshing way.