“There’s something really dark and existential about my songs,” says mazie, “but at the same time, they’re all wrapped up in this bright, playful, sugar coating. I’m always trying to walk that line.”
Indeed, mazie’s music is built on contradictions and double negatives, pairing bleak, fatalistic lyrics with shiny, alt-pop arrangements as infectious as they are unpredictable. Mixing modern malaise with vintage psychedelia, her writing exudes a childlike innocence, but with an eerie, off-kilter twist, like watching old home movies through a funhouse mirror. There’s nostalgia in her hypnotic performances, to be sure, but it always comes laced with dread, with an impending sense of doom fueled by a world in ever-deepening crisis. And so mazie smiles and laughs as she steps into the abyss, because if the world’s about to end, why not at least have a little fun with it?
“So much of what I consume on a daily basis is really heavy political content,” says mazie, who devotes much of her time outside of music to social activism. “I think anyone who knows me would say that I’m a pretty happy person, though, so I end up with this music that sounds very upbeat and whimsical even though it’s about loneliness or isolation or anxiety.”
Born in Albany, Georgia and raised outside Baltimore, mazie fell in love with singing at an early age and spent most of her childhood studying classical and jazz vocals. By the time she hit her teenage years, she was writing her own music and recording it with her neighbor, Elie Rizk, who was teaching himself to engineer and produce in his basement studio. The two were deliberate about their search for a sound, though, and spent years experimenting and collaborating before they landed on “no friends,” mazie’s breakout 2020 debut. Clocking in at less than two minutes, the utterly addictive single exploded online, earning widespread acclaim and quickly racking up millions of streams.
“We were in total shock,” says mazie. “That song really defined the project for us, and when it started going crazy, everything just accelerated.”
In the months to come, the pair would follow it up with two more singles, the lilting “i think i wanna be alone” and trippy “sippy cup,” both of which arrived to similarly rapturous responses. Like “no friends,” the tracks were deceptively cheerful, full of jaunty melodies and earworm hooks and accompanied by DIY artwork and videos that resembled outtakes from some deranged children’s TV show.
“Leaving childhood is tough,” says mazie, who recently relocated to LA. “You’ve got to come to terms with the fact that life is hard, that your family isn’t perfect, that the world isn’t such a good place after all. I wanted to find ways for the music and the visuals to reflect that uneasy transition into adulthood, that feeling of growing up in the midst of all this chaos.”
And while mazie may be a stage name, it’s certainly not a character. The emotions behind the songs, the highs and lows and pain and hope and sadness and joy, they’re as real as can be, even when they all happen at the exact same time.
“When I’m writing a song, I’m kind of putting my feelings under a microscope,” mazie explains. “I’m zooming in and blowing them up and exaggerating them to their extremes. It’s a way of not taking myself too seriously, of being able to laugh at all these conflicting things I’m feeling once.”
Happy and sad, bitter and sweet, vulnerable and guarded, mazie is full of contradictions, and that’s just the way she likes it.