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Meet Mae Krell: The Non-Binary Music Legend Making Everyone Feel Welcome

(Note: Mae is non-binary identifying and goes by they/them)

On the surface, Mae Krell looks like your average teenager. They wear their hair occasionally pink and sport a band T-shirt whenever they can. They hang out at rock shows and love watching Post Malone’s early acoustic videos on YouTube.

However, Mae has an extraordinary talent that is only apparent once you listen to their songs. The 18-year-old singer/songwriter touches on the most vulnerable parts of growing up.

“I don’t want to be portrayed as too put together. I’m still working on myself. I’m constantly changing and growing and falling apart and coming back together.”

Mae is excited to share the premiere of their debut EP Anabasis, out everywhere now. Mae reveals their inner demons with such finesse and honesty that the lead single “Monsters” picked up over 230k streams on Spotify, without any promotion or previous releases!

However, it came at a cost, because Mae spent a year following the release of “Monsters” at a treatment facility in Utah battling addiction.

Anabasis is the story of a New York City teen sharing their journey through love, crisis, success, and failure. Affinity had the incredible opportunity of interviewing this up-and-coming artist before they make it big. Enjoy!

If you could describe your sound in three words, what would they be?

Raw, earnest and budding.

What’s your favorite thing about being a teenager? What’s your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing about being a teenager is not limiting myself. I’ve been able to do everything I could have ever imagined and more throughout years that are usually looked at as unproductive — so that’s kind of cool. My least favorite thing is probably the assumptions made about someone’s capabilities based on age alone. Some people will be so interested in me until they find out how old I am, which is ridiculous.

Courtesy of Francesca Strapko

How has being a teenager in the music industry been unique?

I’m not sure, honestly. It hasn’t felt much different than what I expected, but I guess I’ll know when I’m older. Sometimes, I get paid in a currency I can’t redeem (for example, drink tickets), so I give them to my dad or my older friends who come to the show — which is always funny.

What’s the songwriting process like for you?

Honestly, I usually sit down with one line I already have written and then write around it. I always have a ton of ideas or single lines sitting around in journals or my phone notes, and there are always melodies and colors running through my head. Eventually, all of that stuff together makes a song. I wish I had an “official” process that repeated itself, but it’s really just all over the place and tends to be pretty quick.

What’s your favorite lyric you have written?

Ahh! That’s so hard!

My favorite lyric from the EP is probably “found their way out from under my bed and crept straight into my head” from the pre-chorus of “Monsters.”

I think my favorite lyric in general, though, is “I poisoned my roots and then expected to be able to grow,” which is from a song called “Garden” that I haven’t released yet but play at shows sometimes.

How has your experience of being non-binary affected your music?

This is actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, so I appreciate you touching on it. Growing up with a gender identity that wasn’t necessarily clearly defined at the time was a struggle that I think allowed me to isolate myself more than I would have otherwise.

For as long as I can remember, “she” and “her” made me feel intensely uncomfortable — like I was a stranger to my own body, or as if other people were seeing me differently than I felt. I think growing up so inwardly-uncomfortable and feeling so constantly misunderstood set me up for more mistakes and bad decisions — things I often write about in my songs. I’ve also wanted to write a song about trans identities and stuff for a while — so maybe I’ll do that soon.

Check out Mae on their websiteInstagram, and Twitter. And check out Anabasis on Spotify now!

Cover Image Courtesy of Francesca Strapko

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Written by Tommy Bruzzese

Tommy Bruzzese

18. Boston, MA. Unnecessarily deep.