Mabel: 'I'm just trying to be myself and encourage other young women to be themselves'

Mabel: 'I am just trying to be myself and encourage other young women to be themselves.'

Fast-rising star of the R&B scene who boasts some serious musical genes talks about her influences and the importance of honesty

At just 22 years old, R&B singer Mabel is beginning to garner increasing attention from the music world. Her smooth, clean vocals and uptempo tracks have set her apart as an R&B artist to be taken seriously. Debut single 'Know Me Better' was released in 2015 and real success arrived in 2017 when her track 'Finders Keepers' reached number eight in the UK charts. Despite not yet releasing a full-length album, Mabel has already been nominated for two MOBO awards, and was the winner of the MTV Brand New award this year. With latest single release, 'One Shot', and a UK tour at the end of the year, this could be a real breakout period for the young artist.

As the daughter of Swedish singer-songwriter star Neneh Cherry and one-time Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey, Mabel has potentially inherited some pretty golden musical genetics. This, in combination with a childhood full of music and growing up in multiple locations, has led to a confident, assured vocalist ready to excel.

'There were studios in the house and music was everywhere.' says Mabel, on her earlier years. 'When you're a kid, you don't really reflect on things like that, you just think it is normal. You kind of just adapt to whatever, so it was never weird at all.'

After being raised predominantly in Stockholm – among other places – Mabel is now mainly based in London. 'Stockholm has a certain sound which is very sick and I'd definitely say both inspire me, but it wasn't until I moved to London that I really found my sound.'

Her music has a playful, dancey vibe with a distinctive edge. Her voice is crisp, yet warm, and in her words, she tends to make 'soulful pop'. 'When I was younger I would listen to Lauryn Hill, Destiny's Child, Justin Timberlake, Aaliyah: lots of 90s R&B. Now I would say there are so many other influential women in music that are really inspiring like Jorja Smith and Kehlani. Loads of different genres have influenced me, but mainly I love R&B.'

Mabel: 'I am just trying to be myself and encourage other young women to be themselves.'

Her latest single, 'One Shot' is a summery dance track. 'It's about setting the bar high and being upfront with the person you're with. I think there is a misconception that being open and honest, and saying what it is you want is something we should be embarrassed about. But that's just not me. I am a very honest person, I always tell somebody what I am looking for, and I don't want people to waste my time basically.

'People interest me, and I think that is kind of why we are all here, right? Everyone wants love in some way, in some shape or form. And it's interesting. You go through so many different things, looking for the right experiences, and I feel like I learn something new every time I meet somebody. So I like observing that process and then writing the stories.'

In a world with ever more focus on gender equality and the rights of women, Mabel has clear opinions on her role as an emerging female artist: 'I think the best thing that I can do is be myself. I don't know about being a role model, I think placing that sort of title on myself is too much. It's trying to be this thing that puts loads of pressure on something.'

The Fader declared Mabel the 'best R&B to come out of London in recent memory': an impressively high accolade at this early point in her career. There's a fresh and global sound to Mabel's music, which means many will be keeping their eyes on this rising star. She's very clear on her simple, no games, genuine approach to artistry and fame: 'I'm just trying to be myself and encourage other young women to be themselves.'

Mabel plays Garage, Glasgow, Fri 30 Nov.


Soulful pop singer-songwriter.

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