Write a lot, and finish songs even if you think they’re bad. I really love getting down on myself and deciding songs are bad before I properly workshop them. I’ve thrown out a lot of ideas because I didn’t like them at the moment instead of taking a step back and revisiting them or reusing them in a better way.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mae Krell who is in the midst of a new era. Over a production backdrop of chirping birds, running washing machines and children playing, Mae expresses her introspective lyrics with a newfound maturity and understanding. Following a two-year hiatus, the 21-year-old made her return in 2020 with a string of soft, folk-pop singles. Influenced by revered singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Phoebe Bridgers and Gregory Alan Isakov, Mae writes intimate reflections about confronting past struggles, self-love and personal truths. “wash,” her most recent release, garnered over 500k Spotify streams in less than six months, with her other singles following close behind in numbers. In response to her gut-wrenching single “garden,” Indie Band Guru wrote, “There is truly not a voice quite like the one Mae Krell has.”
Mae’s creative endeavors stretch far beyond music. They originally entered the music industry through photography, traveling the country to take photos, writing poetry, and dreaming of the day they would muster the courage to become a performing artist themselves. Mae’s most recent creative endeavor involves the creation of a cottage-core Build-A-Bear equipped with its own pair of roller skates. A part of the LGBTQ+ community herself and a persistent advocate for mental health awareness, Mae is constantly finding ways to connect with the two communities — whether that’s via music, social media, photography. In her free time, Mae volunteers for Musicians on Call and likes to spend time outdoors — gardening, hiking, and camping.
Thank you so much for joining us. What is the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?
When I was fourteen, I went to my first concert and it completely changed my life. I remember looking up at the stage and then looking at all the people in the crowd singing every word back and I had a moment where I realized: that’s what I want to do. I was determined. It’s funny looking back because I didn’t play an instrument yet, I hadn’t written a song yet either, I just knew.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
As a teenager, my friends and I started going to a lot of gigs around the city. Mostly smaller venues where local bands or smaller/unsigned touring bands were playing. One of the venues we always wanted to go to but never managed to get into was Joe’s Pub, since it was 21+ and they had properly good security. Pretty much right after I turned 21, I was invited to come play as a part of an event there. It was really cool to walk into a venue I had always wanted to go to as a musician rather than a fan.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on a ton of new music! I try to change up the coloring and theme for each track I release (with the help of my friends who do graphics and photos). Since there’s a lot of new music in the making, we’ve had a ton of fun planning ahead and thinking of new ideas!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
There’s a British rock bassist who I met and was around for a bit who was a super wonderful person. He played in and with a handful of bands that I absolutely loved as a teenager. Meeting someone who is so ridiculously talented and had played with artists who i loved was unreal. He gave me a lot of good advice about music and how to go about growing a career and keeping positive. He’s also sober, and I find that meeting sober people in the music industry is very inspiring to me as well.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
I definitely draw inspiration from my daily life and my feelings, as well as people I’m close with and their experiences. My music is always meant to be raw and real, and I think that can only really be drawn from experiences you’ve either been through or heard about from other people. You have to feel something to be able to make other people feel something, or at least in my experience, that’s what it is.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve tried my best to share as much of myself as I can in the most honest way possible. I find that the platform and fans I have often need to see someone like them working hard to succeed. I also try to encourage as many people as I can to go into the arts in a personal way- it’s so important to have some sort of creative practice in your life, hobbies are so essential to a healthy way of being, and i think that’s often forgotten.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You should try to do the things you want to do regardless of if you believe you’re capable or not. When I first started out doing music, I wasn’t too sure if I was good or not. Honestly, I’m still not sure, but I made a conscious decision to continue because it makes me happy. Honestly, if I had listened to my own thoughts about myself, I wouldn’t be here.
- Write a lot, and finish songs even if you think they’re bad. I really love getting down on myself and deciding songs are bad before I properly workshop them. I’ve thrown out a lot of ideas because I didn’t like them at the moment instead of taking a step back and revisiting them or reusing them in a better way.
- Always get a second opinion. This one is a continuation! Having people to give you opinions, regardless of if they’re musicians or not, is always really wonderful insight.
- Put just as much work into promotion as you put into the music. This is so important! And is so often forgotten by musicians in the early stages of their career. What’s the point of perfecting a song, spending money on production, mixing, mastering, etc and putting it out if you aren’t going to try to reach people who will listen.
- Don’t get too caught up in what other people think of your path. This is something I still actively struggle with and definitely appreciate hearing once in a while. When you decide to pursue an “unusual” path, especially at a young age, there’s constant judgment, at least in my experience. It’s important to focus on what you want rather than what other people do.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think I’d want to help improve arts education in school curriculums and make it more accessible across the board. My high school had absolutely no art/music classes at all. I think art teaches people about themselves and about others in a very vulnerable way that nothing else can. Everyone should have some sort of art in their life, and I would want to help make that as accessible as possible.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
Honestly, Taylor Swift. I love her music and songwriting. I think she’s absolutely brilliant. I think it would be way interesting to be able to talk to her!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
My social handles are all @maekrell ! 🙂
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!