Hometown: New York, NY
Living in any big city is not easy, especially if you are teenager, but try living in a large city like New York and making a name for yourself in several different disciplines like, say, photography, publishing and music. Now try pulling this off before you are even 18 years old.
This is exactly what the Up and Coming Multi-Talented New York City Singer Song-Writer Mae Krell did.
On the surface Mae Krell looks like your average teenager. She wears her hair pink occasionally and sports a band T-shirt whenever she can and chums around with friends on weekends. She also attends concerts on behalf of Rolling Stone Magazine and can be found in the media pit with other professional photographers snapping photos of musicians and performers and on certain days she is performing herself on stage singing songs about life and topics reserved for poets and philosophers.
We recently discovered Mae Krell when she sent us an email introducing herself and sharing with us her recently released single titled Scars which we totally loved also as much as we loved her due to her modesty and soft spoken writing style.
This introduction of course made us more curious about her so we did what any responsible and curious music magazine dedicated to discovering up and coming artist would do – we interviewed her to learn about what life is like in the the big city and how it formed her music style as well what its like to be shooting concert pictures right along side the pros.
Here is what Mae Krell had to say:
So what’s it like living in New York?
It’s honestly crazy, I absolutely love it! It’s so fast paced and stressful, because I feel like I always have to be doing something productive to fit in, but I’m still a fan.
Do you think you would be as “into” music if you were say from rural America?
I think so. Music, and writing music, is the way I express myself so I feel like i’d be into it no matter what. Maybe the discovery of it would have come later, (or earlier, who knows) but I think it would have happened no matter what. I’d like to think that music would be relevant to me in any life I could have had. I think about that a lot, actually.
How do you think your music would differ?
I write a lot about the way I experience life, and how I understand other people’s stories, so I feel like that style would be concrete enough and similar enough no matter where I could have grown up. At the same time though, a lot of my life experiences have happened because I live in a city like New York. So I feel like what I write about would definitely differ, since the issues and roadblocks and events in my life would differ, but I think my style would still be the same.
What’s it like for you on stage when you are performing – do you get nervous?
I get crazy nervous right before I go on stage, but the second I start singing i’m fine. When i’m talking and explaining and telling my little stories between songs I go back to being super nervous though. It’s like an on and off nervousness switch that I have no control over, if that makes sense.
Are you generally a shy person off stage?
I’m pretty quiet in public and in school type situations. I’ll talk to people, but I won’t necessarily openly talk about my photos, and my music, and the things I do outside my “normal” world. I generally keep my “unusual” things separate from the “regular” things I do. I’m just scared people in my “normal” world will judge me or think of me differently in a negative way if I mix the two.
How do you prepare for a show?
I make an effort to practice my set at least once a day every day. I don’t really keep up with it, but I try to. The week before a show i’m able to practice every day though.
How do older people treat you when you are wearing your photographer’s hat?
There are two completely opposite reactions that I get when people are aware of my age. They’re either super impressed with everything I do (those are usually people who aren’t a part of the photo world), or they’re really judgemental and look down on me since I’m seventeen. I really hate that people can’t judge by portfolio, and have to judge by age.
Do you think you will always be a photographer or do you see yourself coming up more as a performer?
I think I’ll always have that eye for photos, and that i’ll continue carrying my film camera everywhere, but I’d ideally like to be playing music full time. I love playing live so so much, and i’m always looking forward to and trying to book my next show. The hope is that all the hard work will somehow pay off and i’ll magically be able to play music and write full time.
Tell us about your new song, “Scars”. What is the meaning of the song?
“Scars” is somewhat of a personal anthem. It’s my debut single, and i’m still super excited about it being out, it doesn’t feel real at all! I can’t believe i’m answering interview questions right now. Anyway, the whole idea behind “Scars” is that everyone is beautiful, no matter what their life has left on their skin. I hope it’s able to reach as many people as possible, because I want everyone to hear and (hopefully one day) believe the message it’s trying to get across.
What’s the writing process like. Do you wake up in the morning with a new melody or is it something that grows out over time?
Usually, an idea just comes to me and a whole song is written in like an hour. Sometimes I think of random one-liners that I want as lyrics though, and then when I feel like it i’ll write around them. It’s all dependent on how i’m feeling and how my brain is working that day/hour/week. Sometimes i’ll go weeks without writing anything, and then i’ll write a song that i’ll absolutely fall in love with. It’s super weird since it’s really on and off and on and off. That happened recently, I hadn’t written in a month and then I wrote this song, “Way Home”, which is one of my favorites now! I played it at my last show and it got a positive response too, so i’ll be playing it at shows from now on.
How would you describe your music?
On record, I have no idea how to describe it. “Scars” is kind of poppy, but the rest of the EP isn’t. It’s also not out yet though, so I can’t expect anyone to know that. Live, it’s just the stereotypical acoustic singer songwriter, I think. I’d like to think that my songs mean something more than the stereotypical genre, though. That isn’t for me to decide though.
Do you have a regular band that you play with?
Nope! I play alone with my guitar and my ukulele. They’re my band.
Who are some of your favorite artist and how have they inspired you to create your own music?
I’m a really big fan of Nirvana, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Ed Sheeran, The 1975, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and The Lumineers. I’m not big on too many bands, I tend to fall in love with songs more than I do with bands. I was at an Ed Sheeran concert at Radio City Music Hall a little before I turned 14, and It was there that I realized I wanted to play music for the rest of my life. I looked up at the stage, and back at everyone singing, and at the stage, and back at everyone singing, and I realized that this is what I wanted to do. It was easily the most important moment in my life.
Do you have any other interest besides music and photography – we hear you also are an editor and founder of a cool magazine?
Yes! I’m the founder and editor in chief of Tongue Tied Magazine – you can find it at tonguetiedmag.com! We’re a four section daily online blog and bi-yearly print, 100% by teens for teens! I love my staff, and I have a lot of fun running it. I’m also really interested in science, just overall. I watch a bunch of youtube science shows and try to keep my brain running as much as I can.
You must be really busy – how do you find time for school or family?
Crazy busy! I live at home, since I’m seventeen, and I share a room with my sister, so I see her a lot. My other two siblings are always home and I’m able to see them too. There’s ways we make everything work. About school though- I’ve actually been in online school the past year or so, which is how I’ve been able to manage that. But I’m transferring into an alternative school now- and I guess we’ll see how that’ll work out. Only time will tell.
What’s next for you – where do you hope to be in say 5 years?
Ideally, touring and playing music every day. That’s the dream.
We like supporting as many people and artist at Coming Up as we can. Are there any other bands or musicians we should keep an eye out for?
I’m a big fan of Benjamin Francis Leftwich. He’s actually touring his new album right now, and i’m going to his show in Brooklyn. Also Secret Weapons, Danny from the band is a friend of mine and they’re super fun.
Lastly, when can we expect to see you in L.A.?
Hopefully soon! I want to be able to somehow get out of the city and play more shows around the states. We’ll see! The second someone offers me a house or venue to play a show at and a place to stay I’m there!
Steam “Scars” now – a beautifully written and sung song by Mae Krell. You will love the song and her once you do.