“I’ve kind of just been a domestic goddess today,” Mahalia laughs down the phone, from her hometown in Leicester. The one-to-watch, amongst the new wave of Brit female R&B and soul singers making waves, has earned a little downtime: immersed in the fast and furious music industry since being signed at just 13 years old. But if she’s feeling any fatigue it doesn’t show: giggling hysterically throughout our chat, using the F word frequently for emphasis and opening up about her “intense” relationship which inspired the viral single Sober last year (which has reached an impressive 2.1 million YouTube hits and counting). At 19, Mahalia’s ‘90s-inspired fashion and prescribed “psycho acoustic soul” music is both nostalgic and a modern soundtrack to growing up in the digital age. We catch up with the rising star to talk drunk texting, the problem with plus size fashion and pop’s diversity issue…
Hi Mahalia! You describe your sound as Psycho Acoustic Soul – what’s the Psycho part?
It’s like a little bit nuts, but it was my way as a kid to be like please don’t categorize me. Especially at the minute. After Sober came out people were saying like “R&B sensation!” and I was like “oh my god guys, no.” I was like don’t set yourself up to fail – because if the next single comes out it’s like ‘what the fuck she’s not doing R&B?’ But then however you take music is however you take it.
My parents were in a band when they were younger called Club O and they made a T-shirt with psycho acoustic soul on it – that’s how my dad always described their music. How I now understand it is psycho starts, which comes from my lyrical style; acoustic, purely because of the fact I play the guitar; and the soul part, I like to think my voice is quite soulful.