North London's Mae Muller started writing songs by trying to emulate her heroes. First up, when she was much younger, was Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine . "I was obsessed," she tells MTV. "I tried to write like her. I think I was 19 when I put my first song on SoundCloud."
But unlike Flo and other artists whose identities and artistic visions are clearly defined from the start, Muller began her own journey with plenty of questions. "I was like, I don't really know who the hell I am. I really don't. And I think just writing really made me find that."
Muller, the MTV Push artist for January 2022, knows who she is now — or at least, she knows who she's keen to be for the moment before she evolves. As she spoke to MTV about her rise, she also reflected back on her first concert at O2 Forum Kentish Town, where her father took her to see electronic group Lemon Jelly. "They did a kids' show dressed as the Flintstones," she tells MTV. "Thinking back to it, it's very weird and psychedelic, but I must've been, like, five."
Her music, meanwhile, sounds not too electronic nor too, well, childish. Instead, her breakout hit "Better Days" harkens back to late-'70s disco sounds but filtered through the internet age, in the vein of recent chart-topping hits like Doja Cat's "Say So" and Dua Lipa's "Levitating." The funk bassline and extremely clean production from producer Neiked allows Muller to pine on the bright chorus for the sunny future promised by the title.
"When I vocaled the track, I thought it was a banger from the start," Muller says. "But I did think it could be better." For the final piece of the track, she enlisted help from rapper Polo G. "I'd heard his song on TikTok quite a lot. I was just like, let's just send it to him. And within a week, he'd recorded his verse. It just happened in the most perfect way, because us three, we're so different as artists and as people."
As an artist, Muller stresses she's still finding herself and her process, though she knows what's worked in the past, whether that's picking up a guitar or another instrument to begin playing some chords. "Other times," she says, "I'll just go on the mic and just start doing gibberish melodies and just see what happens. But I quite like that instinctive, animalistic way of approaching it, whatever comes out."
You can hear that magnetism on "Therapist," a likewise silken cut that finds its power in Mae's powerful and instantly memorable chorus, "You don't need a girlfriend / You just need a therapist."
Now, Muller doesn't have to try to sound like anyone but herself. Get to know her in the performance and interview video above.