mazie Is Ready to Introduce You to Her Most Psychedelic and Honest Self Yet [Q&A]
Photo: Jade Sadler
Since 2020, Baltimore-bred, Los Angeles-based artist mazie has been bringing her own delightfully delirious take on sugar-coated, psychedelic pop. Cheeky, razor-sharp, and syrupy-sweet, her music is consistently catchy and always unexpected, pairing off-kilter melodies with bedroom-pop beats and lyrics that range from incisively sarcastic to innocently honest. Her songs are drenched in sounds that shift, slide, and balloon, mimicking the zaniness of an amusement park, but like walking through a house of mirrors, the thematic elements she tackles are often inspired by the political happenings of the times and the utterly relatable contradictions of everyday life and relationships. It’s what makes her music so unpredictable and multilayered (on top of the sonic twists and turns she uses to keep her songs deliciously dynamic).
After touring with Still Woozy, releasing the rainbow cassette EP, and seeing her single “dumb dumb” reach viral success, you could say the 23-year-old has been busy in the last year and a half. But all of it has been merely a teaser for what’s sure to be the year of mazie, with the singer releasing her debut album blotter baby in late February.
In the meantime, she’s keeping her fans satisfied with the swoon-worthy “it’s not me (it's u),” an irresistibly catchy track that layers her floating vocals atop a tight acoustic guitar and woozy synths. In true mazie style, she pairs an ardent, wistful melody with biting lyrics, keeping listeners on their toes and in their feelings in the best way possible. We spoke with the songstress in the days leading up to her single to discuss “it’s not me (it’s u),” living in LA, and the ways her debut album is her most personal and vulnerable work so far.
Ones to Watch: When you last talked to Ones to Watch, you had just moved to LA. What are your thoughts now?
mazie: I feel really settled in. I love LA actually, which I feel like is a rare opinion. I’ve had the best last year here and I really feel solidified with my friends and my way of living. It feels really good, really solid. So I’m very excited for another year.
This past year has been really busy for you. It seems like you’ve been putting out music pretty consistently since you broke out in 2020, and you also went on tour. Have you just been working constantly this past year?
I feel like I have never had the volume of work I’ve had, especially in the last two months after “dumb dumb” went viral. I’m like, Oh my god, you can get busy so fast! I thought I was but now I’ve got so much stuff to do!
Is that overwhelming at times?
It was overwhelming in that you’re restructuring your whole life, so I have to adjust my day-to-day, workflow-type vibes, but I also wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming because I want it to get bigger, you know, I want it to be more and more. So I am ready for whatever and I welcome the overwhelming.
So tell me a little about "it's not me (it's u)."
It was the hardest song for me to write. There were so many different attempts at it. When we got the chorus, I was like, oof, ok I’m just gonna sit on this for a while, then I went on tour, and then all of this stuff in my personal life just started unfolding after that, and then all of a sudden I had everything I needed to say, but I was like, I don’t wanna say this at all because straight up it’s offensive at some parts. Which is ok and it’s very honest, but it was very therapeutic and I feel like the epitome of avoidant attachment style. And I really feel that way. And it was just being able to make fun of myself and how hypocritical I am and self-centered I can be in relationships. It was brutal, but I love this song so much.
Can you tell me a bit about how a mazie song is born?
With the album we made, it was so different every freaking time we approached a song. I think I’ve got one song that wasn’t directly done with just me and Eli [Rizk], so it usually starts with my producer, Eli, just being in the room. We usually talk for, like, an hour and a half at the beginning of a session and then just start to noodle. I have concepts sometimes, he has beats sometimes, sometimes it’s just born out of the conversation. Recently it’s been a lot of acoustic writing, which is how “it’s not me, (it’s u)” started, and a handful of other songs that came in later on the album. I feel like the emphasis is on the songwriting recently. The first project I did was so production-focused, so sonic world-building, and it’s not that we’ve left that, I think it’s just bringing that songwriting and the authenticity to me and my artistry to the forefront. And that’s been the process recently.
Based on what you said, do you think this work is more personal than your past work?
Oh my god. No question. I think it is so raw, and I don’t say that in a corny way. Every single song was directly inspired by a moment that had happened in that day or something that had just happened. There wasn’t a part in this album where we were writing a song just to write a song, because for me, a year ago when we started this process last November, I came in feeling like I hadn’t communicated who I am yet in my music. I think we had demonstrated what this mazie world is, but not who I am. The emphasis [is] really on being authentic, and people feeling like they can actually know me through the songs.
Is it scary to release songs like that?
It totally is. Oh my god, I mean, releasing music I think is the worst part of the process in general, so the more intimate it gets, 100%, it’s so exposing.
I know that other singles have been inspired by political events or what’s going on in the world. Is it fair to make the distinction that these new songs are more intimate?
Absolutely. I mean, “girls just wanna have sex” was heavily inspired by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, that was very much the sentiment I brought to the studio that day, so still extremely present.
Is there any unifying concept or message to the album? Sonically, are there certain currents that run through the whole thing?
Absolutely, it’s psychedelia. Psychedelics just in general. The other theme we had throughout the entire album process was reimagining classic-sounding psychedelic music and modernizing it and bringing it into 2023 and what that interpretation would be. There are so many touchstones on every single song that are referencing or paying homage to classics and reimagining that.
Is there anything that you hope listeners take away from the album?
I hope that we feel closer to each other. Not in a creepy way, but just in the shared experience that is being a human being and going through life. Especially being in your early twenties, this to me feels like "I am in my early twenties record," and I am excited to find people who connect with it so we can all just give each other a nice hug.
Totally, I feel like your twenties is the most untethered point of life.
Totally. [Laughs] It’s so untethered. Like what is going on.
You’ve been working so hard this past year, will that continue into 2023? Do you have any plans to tour?
Totally. I am fiending for a tour. I am obsessed with touring in general. I feel like that’s the piece that brings it all together, which is just showing up and being me and playing these songs live. So the biggest goal of 2023 is getting a really nice support tour, hopefully. And just releasing this album and letting it live and breathe for a year. I don’t know what happens after that and I’m feeling really excited for the ambiguity. But also I’m just ready for this record to be out, I’m ready to be on tour, I’m ready to keep building.
One of my final questions; where does the name mazie come from?
It’s my great-grandmother’s name. I hate when people reference my name in interviews because I’m like, I hate my name and it’s why I don’t go by it. [Laughs]
Who are your Ones to Watch?
Chloe George just released one of the best projects I’ve heard in so long. Her EP Penny. Devon Again just released another incredible EP. There’s this artist Judith who has a couple singles out, I’m obsessed, I love her. And Julia Cooper! She’s incredible, her upcoming EP is gonna be amazing. And they’re also all my besties and the homies.