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Mae Graf Interview on Being a New Artist and Indie Scene Challenges

Pop newcomer Mae Graf sits down for an exclusive interview with V13, chatting about navigating the industry as an indie artist and more.



Image of Mae Graf, courtesy of artist
Image of Mae Graf, courtesy of artist

“On-the-rise” pop artist Mae Graf is stunning fans and industry folks alike with her powerful debut on the music scene. Having only two singles under her belt – “Barbie” and the most recently released “I Like Me Better This Way” – Mae is stepping into an indie-pop sound reminiscent of artists like Gracie Abrams, Avril Lavigne, and Phoebe Bridgers.

Her raspy vocals and storytelling prowess are characterized by passionate melodies and introspective lyrics, setting her apart from the crowd as she draws from personal experiences and various influences. This “journal-like style of writing showcases her raw vulnerability in her lyrics that serve as a microscope into her soul and experiences. Indeed, Mae admits that she is a writer at heart, with song lyrics seeming to flow out of her as she experiences these emotions in real life.

We wanted to know more about the newcomer who seems to be on the path to becoming a household name in the industry. Read below for an exclusive interview with Mae Graf.

What do you like most about playing music?

Mae Graf: “My favourite part of playing and writing music is the whole process. I don’t write to release. I write for myself to vent and just happen to release them. The lyrics you read in my songs are all truly authentic because when I wrote the song, I was probably crying.”

Tell us about your experience going it alone as an artist. How hard is it to get your music distributed, promoted, shared, etc?

“It’s extremely difficult from the beginning. From having to pay for studio time yourself, to trying to get on Spotify editorial playlists. Thankfully, I have really good friends, and everyone shares it, but it’s almost exhausting having to promote my music to everyone I meet. To be a self-released artist, you have to be willing to put yourself fully out there.”

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three CDs with you for eternity (assuming there was a solar-powered CD player), what would they be?

“This is the easiest question yet. I would bring Good Riddance by Gracie Abrams, the deluxe version, of course, Stick Season (Forever) by Noah Kahan, and Fireworks and Rollerblades by Benson Boone.”

Cover art for “I Like. Me Better This Way” by Mae Graf

Cover art for “I Like. Me Better This Way” by Mae Graf

When you write, do you do so with the live setting in mind? Or do you write a song just for the song’s sake?

“Sometimes I write about performing live in front of millions of people. But I don’t write based on how well it would sound live. I just let words and melodies flow, and I get what I get.”

Who would you be most amazed to see front row at one of your shows?

“If Gracie Abrams was ever at one of my shows I’d probably scream, throw up, cry, then play the best show I’ve ever played. In that order, too.”

Tell us about your most recent release: what was your experience of making it? What went on behind the scenes? Any notable moments that stand out?

“My most recent release is my second single ever. I had it already roughly written with just my guitar as the music behind it. The studio did an amazing job on it. When they sent me the first mix on the song, I literally cried. It’s a magical feeling when these lyrics that mean too much to me have a story once the music is added.”

How would you describe your creative process?

“My creative process is very free. If you hand me a pen and paper, I can write a song, but my best songs come at the most random moments. Just out of nowhere, I have a story I have to put to words.”

Which do you enjoy the most: writing, recording, practicing, or playing live?

“I would have to say playing live. Writing is obviously amazing, but seeing people enjoy music is honestly inspiring. Seeing how people react to my stories in song and music just always makes people happy. You can always get a reaction through music.”

Dawn Jones is the curator of the V13 imPRESSED Column. Previously known as imPRESSED Indie Music Blog, Jones and her team joined forces with V13 in 2020 to collaborate on an exclusive column on V13's site (imPRESSED) to bring a niche focus to the rapidly evolving indie music genre. Dawn is also the founder of Pressed PR - a boutique PR agency that focuses on PR for independent creatives. Pressed PR’s team works on a variety of campaigns partnering with independent filmmakers, independent artists, and independent labels. Pressed PR’s music clientele has landed in the pages of Billboard, Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, HYPE Magazine, and many others.