mazie Is Transforming the World Around Her Into a Surreal Pop Dream [Q&A]
Photo: Daniela Salinas
Like twisting the rotating ends of a kaleidoscope, looking at mazie's music from an even slightly different perspective unveils a host of varying takeaways. There's "no friends," her debut single, written and released at the beginning of quarantine, perfectly unaware of the universal nature her track would soon envelop. Twist a little further and you arrive at "dumb dumb," an unconventional and surreal pop song written in response to the Capitol Insurrection and the ensuing deluge of memes. Yet, no single twist, turn, or bend of the neck begins to fully encompass mazie, the artist.
To fully begin to understand mazie's psychedelic, dreamlike vision perhaps there is no better place to start than her debut EP, the rainbow cassette. Throughout the EP's eight-track run, the rising artist delivers her idiosyncratic take on pop, one that feels like falling straight down the rabbit hole. Yet, in many ways, it's an exploration of everything mazie loves about music, including working with her dearest friends.
Every track is produced by Elie Jay Rizk, mazie's teenage friend and go-to producer who has always been there to bring every left-field idea of hers to life. In addition, the rainbow cassette contains a newly-realized rendition of her debut single "no friends," featuring spill tab and Mia Gladstone, who mazie notes as both friends and inspirations. Taken altogether, the rainbow cassette feels like a bold and utterly enjoyable step forward in expanding the world of mazie.
I had the chance to speak to mazie about writing her debut EP in the midst of a drastic period of change, coming up in the pandemic, and the simple joy of a rent-controlled apartment.
Ones to Watch: Who is mazie?
mazie: mazie is me! I'm Grace. I'm 21-years-old. I'm originally from Baltimore, Maryland, and I just moved out to LA. I have no idea how to describe myself (laughter).
Let's start out with the hard-hitting questions. Would you rather be able to speak every language or be able to speak to animals?
Ahhh, dude! That sucks! I think I'd rather speak… this is controversial… I think I would rather be able to speak every single language, because, what if we find out animals are so mean. And they're talking behind our backs, they're just roasting us all the time. That would be devastating.
That is my newly realized fear. What if animals are just extremely problematic? Just have to cancel every single one of them.
Exactly. Like, dogs are racist? That sucks.
How would you say you have evolved as a person since your debut single, "no friends?"
Wow, I'm extremely evolved. This last year, everything in my life changed. I dropped out of college. I moved with all of my friends from home out to LA, and I feel like being 21 and being totally financially independent from your family and pursuing music at the same time is really fucking intense. Every day is a struggle trying to be an actual adult, but it's been awesome.
What's the hardest part of being a financially independent adult?
That all of your money goes to rent and nobody tells you that.
Welcome to LA.
Yeah, dude, every dollar goes straight to my rent. Cool... cool... cool.
What is the rainbow cassette?
the rainbow cassette is my debut EP. It's my favorite body of work I've ever made. It feels really complete to me, which is fantastic. I haven't had a strong sense of my artistry until the last two years, and I feel like this EP is exactly what I want to be doing right now, which is a really cool feeling.
the rainbow cassette was written during not only a period of change, you moving from Baltimore to LA, but in the midst of a pandemic. How did the world around you affect this EP?
I think the EP is exactly the world around us for the last two years. We released "no friends" peak quarantine, when nobody had any idea what was going on. And then we made the rest of the EP throughout the whole thing, so I feel like the entire project is centered in this experience, whether we liked it or not.
"dumb dumb" was written in response to the Capitol Insurrection. How do you go about turning such a surreal experience into an even more surreal pop song?
I think the more absurd the better. I feel like every single thing we've been experiencing for the last few years has no fucking context at all. Where did this shit come from? How did we get here? This is brutal. So, I think the day that the insurrection happened, we were just like, "Yeah, this makes no sense anymore, so let's also make a song that makes no sense."
It's like when the world's going mad, what can you do but laugh?
Yes, exactly. Or else you'll cry, and that's even worse.
Is there a song on the EP you're excited or even scared for people to hear?
That was how I felt about "dumb dumb," because that was the first song I released after eight months, because I was in the process of signing to Good Boy, so we couldn't release anything. But it ended up being so much better than I could have ever imagined. I'm so excited for people to hear the intro to the EP, because when Elie and I were in the studio last summer we made the intro before whatever else, and we were like "This is it. This is exactly what we want to be going for." I'm so excited for people to finally hear that; we've been sitting on it for so long.
And why were you scared for people to hear "dumb dumb?" Was it the political nature of the track?
Not even. It's just because it's a zany song, you know? I feel like I haven't heard a lot of songs like "dumb dumb," so I never know if people are going to be receptive of that or if people are going to be like "What is this?"
Speaking on the absurd, surreal nature of not just your music but your overall aesthetic. Where did that originate?
I feel like it came from psychedelics to be honest. Sorry to my parents. It's definitely psychedelics that really changed my relationship with music, changed my relationship with myself in such a positive way. It's just who I am today and what the music is today, so yeah, straight-up psychedelics.
Was there a defining moment where you knew music was what you wanted to pursue?
Yes. I've never had a plan B, which is a little crazy now that I think about it. I was singing opera by the time I was ten years old, so either I'm going to go to a conservatory and this is going to be my life or I'm going to be a music therapist or something. But then when I met my producer when I was 15, he tracked my vocals the first or second day I was in the studio, and when he played it back for me, I sobbed hysterically. It was the most mind-blowing experience ever, and I was like "This. This is it. I have to do this for the rest of my life."
Elie is not only your producer but your teenage friend. What's it like creating music with someone who has always been there for you but is also growing into adulthood with you?
Oh, I could cry talking about this. It's the most powerful, incredible experience ever. We love each other so much as people. He is my best friend, and he's seen me grow up over these last five or six years and we get to make the best music because of our closeness. You can't fake that intimacy with other people when you're getting in the room for the first time. He just understands me fundamentally as a person and therefore understands the music so fundamentally. It's the greatest thing ever.
What do you hope people take away from the rainbow cassette?
I hope that they're interested. I hope that they feel really good listening to it. I hope they have a lot of fun, because I had so much fun making it and I really enjoying listening to it. I'm a little biased though. Yeah, I just hope people really enjoy themselves, because it's a bit of an experience.
You'll be heading out on tour with COIN this fall. What are you most excited for?
I think just doing it, you know? Every single person I talk to about going on the road is like "I could tell you what it's like but you're just going to have to go through it and learn for yourself." I came up in the pandemic, so live shows have not been a thing for me. I'm really, really excited to go play shows and see what it's like.
Speaking of coming up in the pandemic, did you feel a heightened need to be involved in social media, as it was the only way to connect with fans?
Yes, yes. It required me to be really adept at social media super fast, which is something I think I'll always be working on especially because content creation is kind of hard. But with Instagram and being able to connect with fans in that way, it provided me purpose when nobody had purpose. It felt like I had a job, like I was doing something constructive. It made me really get on board with social media.
Regarding social media, that's a very positive outlook, especially during the pandemic where one had to find reasons to get out of bed in the morning.
Exactly. And if that's an Instagram post, I'll take it!
If you could have one thing in the world right now, what would it be?
Oh my god. If I could have anything in the world it would be an apartment...
A rent-controlled apartment?
(laughter) I want a rent-controlled apartment. I want to be like Monica from Friends. An apartment in Tokyo! That's it. That's the one
Who are your Ones to Watch?
I'm on Good Boy Records and Good Boy is all the homies. They're literally my best friends. I am so excited for georgee who just put out his song "baby4u." It's my favorite song ever right now. And judith, who is about to put out her debut single. Just reppin' Good Boy because they're my family. Outside of that, I'm obsessed with my friends. spill tab, Wallice, marinelli. I think they're all stars. ella jane. Chloe George. Oh my god. The world is not ready for Chloe George.
the rainbow cassette is available everywhere you can stream it.