Eurovision 2023 contestant Mae Muller Harry Carr with permission for Varsity

Ahead of her debut album Sorry I’m Late being released later this month, I sat down with Mae Muller to discuss her music career but came away feeling that I’d just been to “girl boss” therapy. “Being a bad bitch has always been my armour, but for this album I’ve taken that armour off.” Known for an irreverent attitude in her songs, Mae’s new album has a different message – “finding strength in vulnerability”.

“The fairytale doesn’t exist, and that’s OK”

Mae has a song for pretty much every type of relationship – the high school sweetheart who turns out to be an ‘Anticlimax’, the boyfriend who needs a ‘Therapist’ not a girlfriend and love that is just ‘So Annoying’. So I ask her what has been the hardest lesson she’s had to learn: “The fairytale doesn’t exist, and that’s OK.”

From Mae’s perspective, we’re taught that you’ll find the one, settle down and live happily ever after, “but life is not as black and white or easy as that”. “A lot of where my real pain comes from is where I’ve fallen out of love, and you think, how is that possible? I was so sure about this person.”

Her remedy for being “a bit of a delulu girly” is to focus on the present and draw boundaries. “I’m a people pleaser, and creating boundaries is really hard because you feel like you’re doing something wrong … but really it’s a form of self-care.” She admits that “I’m still learning it now, but through writing this album, I’ve seen just how important it is.”

Trying to keep the fangirling to a minimum, I ask Mae what her favourite song of her own is. “‘Maybe That’s Just Life’ from the new album is definitely up there. I’ve never written a song like that, and I wanted it to sound like a diary entry … I feel like I got so much off my chest.”

One of her key influences growing up was Lily Allen: “I just believed every word,” (a sentiment we shared). Mae admires that “she spoke about the female experience so well and so candidly. She’s so unapologetic, and that’s pretty cool.” From Lily Allen to Adele and Amy Winehouse, north London’s female artists left their mark on Mae. “I grew up in Kentish Town and there’s just such a buzz. Being around that and digesting that energy from being a kid has influenced me in a lot of ways.” Though she does admit to being partial to a night out south of the river in Peckham (having been born and raised there, I was thrilled).

“I don’t see men being held up to the same standard”

Being the UK’s Eurovision 2023 candidate, Mae has been under scrutiny this year. “I’ve become quite good at brushing things off … we move.” Her coping mechanisms include a thick skin and not dwelling – “I have to snap out of it.” She reflects that the fast-paced nature of the music industry means that there’s always new pressures: “There’s no clocking out.”

Asked if she feels she has to be a role model, Mae says: “I never want to put myself in that category, nobody asks to be a role model,” and points out that “I don’t see men being held up to the same standard. I could talk about it forever.”


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Her new music resonates with this sentiment – “That’s a lot of what this album is about. There is so much pressure about the right way to be a woman and what the right way to be a feminist is.” Mae says that it also resists the pressure placed on female artists for their music to “always make a stand on something. What if we just want to write a song about our experiences?”

The “girl boss therapy” ends with some words of advice for young women at Cambridge. “First of all – salute! I bow down to you. It’s not an easy feat, so congratulations for getting this far.” She also speaks to the importance of staying true to yourself and not burning out – boundaries should apply to work as well as love. “Just be kind to yourself, you’re doing amazing sweetie.”