English singer-songwriter Mae Muller released her debut album, Sorry I’m Late, on September 29, 2023. The album has a 17-song tracklist which features her certified platinum hit song “Better Days” with NEIKED and Polo G. The song made the Billboard Top 100, making it her debut, ranking at #23.
For the Sorry I'm Late artwork you're dressed in many different outfits representing the multiplicity of being a woman, what does each outfit represent?
Mae Muller: Each of the characters represent a song on the album. It also represents the different versions and sides of me that it's taken for me to get to this point. There are some songs like “Bitch With A Broken Heart,” that's intimidating and strong, you don't want to mess with her. We put her in this all-black latex look and she has a strong lip with slick-backed hair and she looks visually intimidating but she knows what she's doing. There's another character which represents “Maybe That's Just Life,” which is a lot more vulnerable, she's in her pyjamas sitting around the table. She looks chill but she's figuring it out, she's not trying to be the center of attention. I feel like those things can exist all at once, even though they represent songs. Some days I will wake up and feel like that strong woman and other days I don't want to get out of bed and that's okay. For a long time, I felt like I had to be one version of a strong woman to survive in this industry and that's what I had to show to be a good role model. I actually think that finding the strength in vulnerability is actually a lot more powerful. That's kinda what those characters represent, it’s everything we can be and how we are all multifaceted human beings.
How does this album differ from the other music in your discography?
Mae Muller: I think sonically I've evolved a lot and I sound more sure of myself. When I first started writing music, it was more of I take no shit, you can't break my heart, I'm a strong ass woman and look what I've done for myself. That was a side to me I enjoy expressing but I feel like a lot of that wasn't a person all the time. It was my armor at the time. That's what I felt like I had to do, it was my version of a strong woman. I think in this album I'm not just doing that, I'm showing my vulnerability and writing things that are exposing and scary. It doesn't just show that one version of me, it's all the in-between and sometimes it's not so pretty. If I want to be an authentic artist I have to show that side. I think that's the main difference, me being more vulnerable and finding the power in that.
What inspired the title Sorry I'm Late? How does this album reflect your growth since you began releasing music?
Mae Muller: I like the idea of having a tongue-in-cheek album title because that's kind of a lot of my lyrics that have gotten me to where I am. I thought it would be nice to keep it in the world. it's like I'm sorry I'm late, It's taken a hot minute for us to get here. A Lot of ups and downs and we've been through a lot but we're here now so sorry I'm late but we've arrived. I think on this album you can really hear the growth and journey. I was a baby when I first started so I think from then till now I sound sure of myself. Even though I'm being really vulnerable and open about my insecurities and what I would change about myself. In doing that I actually sound a lot more sure of myself and that I actually really know who I am and I'm not afraid of that. It's nice for me to listen back and be like okay she's figuring it out.
Are there any artists who you would consider dream collaborators?
Mae Muller: I'd love to work with Dolly Parton. I think country music, especially women, are the best songwriters, like Kasey Musgraves. I just love the way they tell stories. In every song there is a wow moment where it's how did you think of that, you said it in the most simple way. I'm always taken by that. Dolly would be a dream, I don't care what I have to do I'll play the triangle, whatever she wants. I'd also love to write with Julia Michaels, she's one of the best pop writers. She's so smart and has such an interesting way of saying things. I love a song with a punch line and she's so good at that.
Your song “Better Days” with NEIKED and Polo G certified platinum in the US and Canada, what was your reaction when you found out?
Mae Muller: It was really weird. As an artist that's a dream but to do that in the US as a British artist was very surreal. It was amazing, I have the plaque on my wall at home. I look at it when I feel down and I'm like, I'm that girl. I try not to get too lost in the statistics but when you see something like that it's like oh wow. I'm proud of it, it means people are resonating and enjoying it and I think that's all you could really want.
What experience or moment in your career gave you that, you made it moment?
Mae Muller: I think it was definitely Jimmy Fallon. It was the most surreal thing in the world, he is like the pinnacle of Hollywood and showbiz in this kinda game we are in. I just remember he knocked on my dressing room and I saw him at the door, he was tall and I was like oh my god he's a real person. I'm here and I'm here because of me and they invited me on here. I did my performance and I sang “Better Days” and there was a live audience. I finished and was looking out and there was a second of silence and I could see the lights and the audience faces. Suddenly everyone clapped and Jimmy came over. I was like oh my god, even if I never experience this again this happened and this is real. I walked off the stage and bawled my eyes out.
What do you hope the Pop girls take away from the album?
Mae Muller: I get so much from Pop music and listening to the other pop girls who are smashing at the moment, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie, Madison Beer. I love feeling like I'm getting honesty and authenticity and I'm believing them. That's all I could ever ask for anyone listening to my music is that they feel it and that it's authentic and they go maybe I'm not alone in that Mae is singing about that. I'd love for it to be visual and listen to it and see that story and situation and that's all I've wanted to achieve in my songwriting. It's the time for Pop girlies.
The album artwork shows a feast surrounded by red wine and champagne, if one of your songs off the album was champagne, which one would it be?
Mae Muller: There is a song called “Miss America” which sonically sounds really big and grand, kinda like Marina and The Diamonds or Lana Del Rey. But the lyrics are cutting and self-deprecating. Sonically it sounds like it can be played at a grand hall. That song sounds like a sip of champagne and then you hear the lyrics and are like girls going through it.
Were any pieces of art or music used as inspiration to write the album?
Mae Muller: Musically, I grew up listening to Lily Allen and her lyrics and songwriting really inspire me. I was listening to a lot of The 1975 at that time. It was quite a bit of this and that. The cover art was inspired by the Last Supper image and Mac Miller cover art. There's a photographer called Nadia Lee Cohen who I'm such a fan of, I took ideas for the color palette from her. Inspiration can come from all over the place. Most of it was more of how I was feeling that day, whatever came out came out.
How do you know when a song is done?
Mae Muller: I think a lot of artists, some of my artist friends have 30 versions of their songs. I'm not like that, I get excited about things really quickly and after the first day, I'm like it's done, let's get it out. I have to sit with myself and say girl relax there needs to be a few nips and tucks. I feel like sometimes when you can sit with it, listen back to it and I am genuinely like you know what I tried to change something and it's not quite getting there it's like I love the song so much that I'll release it with that one small thing I'm not quite happy with. Even with the minuscule thing that I can't get, I want it out because of the message and what it represents when you get to that point you kind of know. It's different for everyone, it's not very verbal to me. I'm not like we need a million versions till it's perfect. I'm not a producer or play an instrument, I'm not technical, I'm more lyrics. I'm like the lyrics are good. It's a bop let's get it out.
Listen to Sorry I’m Late HERE