Sorry I’m Late

Sorry I’m Late

“It shows a journey,” Mae Muller tells Apple Music of her debut album Sorry I’m Late. “I’ve grown up as a woman, as a person, and I’ve learned so much. I think you can really hear that.” The North London singer-songwriter began working on her first record back in 2019, ahead of hitting the road with Little Mix that year and long before her sudden fame as the UK’s 2023 Eurovision contestant. It has, she admits, been a long time coming, which is why she found its shrug of a title so apt. “There was so much effort [that went] into it, and then the title is like this flippant, ‘Sorry I’m late, just threw it together, babes.’ I thought that was quite funny,” she says. You’ll find “I Wrote a Song”—the stomping, sassy breakup anthem she performed in front of 162 million people worldwide at Eurovision—here, alongside plenty of moments that share its DNA: tongue-in-cheek lyricism calling out a malevolent ex set against breezy yet empowered kiss-off pop. (“If someone is brave enough to treat me like crap then you have to be brave enough to sit and listen to the repercussions of that!” she warns.) But Muller didn’t only want Sorry I’m Late to showcase her “Bad B, takes-no-shit” energy, as she puts it: She also wanted to unveil a softer, more vulnerable side. So, as Sorry I’m Late unfolds, she digs into her insecurities (the acoustic “MTJL”), anxiety (the All Saints-esque “Breathe”) and jealousies (“Tatiana”), with the singer-songwriter often embracing soft synth-pop (see “Little Bit Sad” or “Nervous (In a Good Way)”), strings and summer-ready bops en route. “You have to be this strong woman, be a role model and write these empowerment anthems—and for a long time it felt like that was the only thing I could show,” she says. “That is such an important part of me. But this album has been really therapeutic. There’s actually a lot of empowerment in showing the vulnerable side. It was scary, but I’m happy I was brave. I felt like I had to get it off my chest.” Here, Muller talks us through a selection of songs that showcases those many different sides. “Bitch With a Broken Heart” “I was in Sweden, and it was one of those days where nothing was coming out. I was like, ‘Oh no, I can’t write music anymore—my life is over.’ And then Victor Rådström [of NEIKED] started messing around and playing these chords and it kind of stuck. I liked how it sounded like something you would hear in a toy shop. And I liked the oxymoron of writing something really savage over the top. Relationship-wise, I don’t really let a lot of things out, but once you really mess with me, you’re going to be sorry about it! I think starting the album off in that way really packs a punch.” “I Wrote a Song” “This was such a big moment and such a point in my journey. It represents a lot for me, even before it was part of Eurovision—it felt very powerful and it was fun and you can dance to it, no matter who you are. I feel so powerful when I sing it. Obviously, after Eurovision I was slightly worried for a sec that I just wouldn’t want it to be tainted in any way—there was a feeling of disappointment and frustration a little bit [Muller came second to last in the contest]. But I overcame all of that and feel stronger than ever. Playing it, I feel so empowered by it and love it even more now than I did before.” “Me, Myself & I” “I had become quite reliant on male validation and who I was talking to. I felt like I always needed to have somebody there. For the first time I didn’t have that and I thought I would be a bit lost or bored or down but I felt so great. Sometimes when you’re on your own, you really get to know yourself—it sounds like a cliché. The day we wrote this, I was just really feeling myself. I wanted to write that self-worth, girl-power empowerment stuff because that’s genuinely how I was feeling, and I was really proud of myself for getting to that point. It was like, ‘You don’t need a man—and you actually mean it this time!’” “Tatiana” (with Dylan) “Jealousy is an emotion that we all feel and it’s an ugly one—you don’t want to be the jealous girl but it happens and it’s natural. It was important for me to have the song as an open conversation: Someone else has made me feel like this, so let’s talk it out. But it’s an odd place. I’m always very much like, ‘I don’t care, I’m cool, I’m chill!’ But you do have those moments. The song came out as a modern-day ‘Jolene’ in a way. I knew I wanted another girl on the second verse—I asked Dylan because I think she’s amazing and we have a friendship.” “MTJL” “What’s crazy is that I wrote this song on the same day as ‘Me, Myself & I’. After writing such a big, poppy song, I just kind of wanted to see what came out. Karl Ivert, who’s a songwriter and an amazing artist, just started noodling on a guitar and I don’t know what happened, but it just made me feel quite exposed. The second he started playing, I knew what kind of song I wanted to write. I wanted it to sound like a diary entry. I wanted to test myself and see how much I was willing to share and how open I was willing to be. Whenever I play it to anyone, it’s kind of embarrassing—I have to try not to cry because, when it gets to the end, it’s like, ‘I do deserve good things and I don’t deserve to beat myself up over this. This is very normal and it’s OK.’ I don’t have that kind of reaction to my own music, I don’t get emotional because I’m like, ‘I’ve heard it a million times, it came from my brain,’ but that song strikes a chord with me.” “Breathe” “I’d been feeling very anxious at that time in my life and I knew I wanted to write a song about it. But I just didn’t think that’s who I was as an artist. I kind of wrote it in a way that it could be from the perspective of anything, it could be about a relationship, but for me it was just about dealing with my own anxieties and how it was really affecting my life. It was about personifying the anxiety: There’s one line where I’m like, ‘You don’t deserve me, you don’t deserve to make me feel this way.’ It’s funny because that works with relationships or a friendship—if they’ve done you wrong, it's like, ‘You don’t deserve me and you never did’, and I feel like it’s the same when you’re dealing with something mentally. I’m like, ‘I’m actually really great and you’re ruining it right now.’ I really believed in this song.” “Nervous (In a Good Way)” “I was at a point of losing hope [in relationships]. Then you find something that is really pure and it reminds you what love is and what it’s meant to feel like. It made me feel almost like a child again and sort of brings back that naivety and that young love. I think that comes across in the song: it’s big, there’s so many things that could happen—so many possibilities. I wanted the vocals to be like a whisper, because it’s actually a very intimate song between two people, it’s vulnerable and it’s, ‘We’ve both been through some shit, I don’t know if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, I’m jittery and nervous around you.’ But the drive in this song is where the excitement comes in. It’s that butterflies feeling.” “Something Real” “A little pop rock moment! I was frustrated when I wrote this—with social media, with relationships; nothing was making me feel alive, everything felt stagnant. It was like, ‘Is this all my early twenties has to offer?’ This song is just me lashing out: I want something to come and knock me off my feet and make me feel. But it also explores insecurities—there’s a line: ‘I feel like I’m way past my prime/I feel like I’ve run out of time.’ And that’s something that can be felt a lot in the music industry. Feeling past your prime at 23 is insanity, but you do feel that way sometimes. Everyone’s always moving onto the next thing. This was just my way of shouting about it—and recording those vocals was such a release.”

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