Singer-songwriter Mae Krell strives to do it all and uplift other independent artists in the process. Classic to modern-day powerhouses like Bob Dylan, Phoebe Bridgers, and Gregory Alan Isakov serve as their inspiration, particularly regarding themes of trauma and self-love, and more recently, Krell shifted beyond writing and recording to photography, starting up a magazine, and artist management.
Krell’s swift rise comes after a two-year break. At just 22 years old, they orchestrated their return last year through a series of singles, including “wash,” home,” and “garden,” which have amassed over 500,000 streams to date. Their latest track, “colorblind,” follows up this sequence, seeing Krell collaborate with producer and multi-instrumentalist Jakob Leventhal to illustrate the heartbreak of a first love.
Krell has started exploring other aspects of the music industry, including photographing live music for Rolling Stone and Sony RCA, founding Tongue Tied Magazine, and starting up their own marketing and public relations company, Bitch Mgmt. We had a chance to speak with Krell about their latest track, as well as their number of endeavors.
You’ve cited Bob Dylan, Phoebe Bridgers, and Gregory Alan Isakov as influences on your songwriting. How do you usually go about writing a song?
I write down lyric ideas all the time, mostly in my phone notes. When I sit down to consciously try to write, I usually scroll through and find something I’m connecting to in that moment. Once I have a song idea/general vibe, I will mess around until I find the chords I like, start humming melodies, and then finish the lyrics and put it all together. I’d say I mostly write in one sitting and then go back and edit and change things, but I’ve definitely written some songs over the course of weeks or months as well.
What inspired you to write “colorblind”?
“colorblind” is about how I felt while dealing with my first-ever real heartbreak. Not to expose me, but I’m very much the type to run away and disconnect before getting too attached or vulnerable. I really let myself open up in this relationship in a way I had never done before, and so the idea of it ending felt so painful because I felt like I was losing one of the only people who really understood me and who I felt truly comfortable with. For a moment, I really felt like my whole world was falling apart; I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without her.
Before releasing a few songs in 2020, you took a two-year hiatus. What made you decide to take a break from music?
I had just toured across the country promoting my debut EP and had the time of my life. I wanted to take a step back and focus on my craft before jumping back in headfirst. I took the time to write music, learn how to play the guitar a bit better, and work on myself in general. When I started releasing again, I felt like I was properly capable of keeping up.
Thematically, how does “colorblind” follow last year’s songs “wash,” “home,” and “garden”?
“garden” is about the fear that comes with growth. “home” is about starting to realize that things might be okay, while still being in that same hard place. “wash” brings in some hope. “are you sure?” kind of acts as a lapse in positivity and struggling to stay afloat. In “snow,” I start to experience good things on our own, even when I’m not sure if I deserve it or not. And, now, “colorblind” kind of represents what it feels like to lose some of that. I’ve tried my best to keep all my releases parallel to my stages of growth in my own life.
Do you have any albums or EPs planned for the near future?
Not as of right now! I’m planning on releasing a single every two months or so for the foreseeable future and just seeing what happens. I would love to properly put together a thematic body of work, like a full-length record, one day though.
What are your goals as an artist?
I want to make people feel heard and held.
Why did you decide to start Tongue Tied Magazine? What’s your vision for this publication?
I originally started Tongue Tied because no one was bringing on younger people to work for them, and I was tired of it!! I was surrounded by so many talented creatives that were being offered work and subsequently having it taken away when companies/publications found out their age. At the time, the magazine was started as a way to empower young people, like myself, while also creating a space for us to have a voice. Now, years later, it’s being run by a new group of incredibly talented young people! I just help out a bit.
You also started BITCH Mgmt, offering PR and marketing specifically to indie artists. Why do you think it’s important for indie artists to have affordable, authentic marketing?
BITCH was started as a quarantine project with my friend Caro Hallock, who creates all our visuals and consults artists on social media! Affordability is a huge issue in music, which is also a big part of why so many indie artists look at marketing and PR as untouchable.
I can’t speak much to visual marketing, since that’s Caro’s forté, but in my experience, the best way to reach people who might like your music is by putting yourself out there. And, by yourself, I mean your personality, your brand, what you love, and what you stand for. A lot of artists don’t realize how powerful their voices are, especially when they’re just starting out. Through marketing and promotion, whether we’re doing it for an artist or just consulting them on it, we hope to help them reach people who will stick around for them as they grow.
Since Pride month just passed, what does pride mean to you?
Pride to me is living my life as my authentic self without fear of judgement. I’m going to be who I am regardless of what other people think of me, and so pride is a celebration of loving yourself exactly as you are! 🙂