Chatterbox: Mulay talks femininity, music & the power of independence

Hello Mulay! Thanks so much for sitting down with Purple Melon to have a chat. You’ve been on a roll since the release of your debut single, ‘Shame’ last year releasing stunning visuals and captivating, genre-bending singles. Now your debut EP is out, tell the world all about it…

For those who are new to MULAY, tell us a bit about who she is & what her music is like.

“She’s a creative expressing herself through music, images and movement. A singer, songwriter, producer and performer that is processing often complicated, raw and honest emotions, inner conflicts and personal experiences through art. Also, she just released her debut EP ‘ANTRACYTE’ you should go and check out… 😉

Your artist name MULAY – how did you land on MULAY as an artist name? Did you go through any other names before choosing it?

“It came about when I was around 16 I think, searching for an artist name for the first time, as I planned to upload my first cover on SoundCloud. The Inspiration was based on Mulan, as I happened to be compared to her – solely because of my hair and half asian origin I guess – but I thought, at least she’s the only Disney princess that didn’t just wait around to be saved by some prince. She’s a warrior and the heroine of her story, that ends up saving a whole country. So I thought, I don’t mind being compared to a strong, independent women like her. Besides that I really liked the sound of the name, so I changed it up a little, added the Y from my birth name and ended up with Mulay. Which since then is my self-empowered, self-given name, that actually a lot of people know me under by now.”

Mulay – PHOENIX

How would you describe your sound & what in particular drew you to the type of music you make?

“Like a painting, my music consists of layers, textures and colors that come together to tell a story, it’s intimate and raw, vulnerable yet powerful, melancholic and sensual. I like blending the world of R&B/Soul – my first love and roots as a vocalist, as it was big voices such as Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys that first sparked my passion for the voice as an instrument – with a more minimalistic, electronic sound aesthetic -which I got more into during my music studies. As I started experimenting with vocal effects, production and sound design, inspired by artists like James Blake, Son Lux, Sevdaliza and FKA Twigs. In the end I want to create music that draws people in and takes them on a journey, music that feels authentic to myself, transcending genre boundaries.”

You say that you want to create a world where listeners can take a trip through the depths of your mind. What do you hope that fans and listeners take away from this EP?

“I want to show strength in vulnerability. ANTRACYTE is an honest confrontation with subjects as betrayal, guilt, moral, prejudice, a shattered self-image, self-destruction and ultimately the acceptance of one’s own humanity. It tells the story of the death of an old-and the rebirth of a new self. A story about the equal value of good and bad experiences, that shows that it’s often our darkest moments that allow us to grow and lead us to where we’re meant to be. It’s about freeing yourself from the pressure of constantly fulfilling expectations from the outside, about being less quick to judge and challenging the idea of right and wrong, broadening the spectrum between black and white. A journey towards self-acceptance, self-love, self determination and sexual liberation.”

What does ANTRACYTE mean and how did you land on it as your project title?

It’s an alternate spelling for the color Anthracite, which is a very dark grey that is almost
black… And that “almost” is pretty much what it’s about. As I mentioned before, the EP highlights the duality of emotions. It’s much easier to live in a world where there’s only right or wrong, good or evil, black or white and that is probably why we are so eager to judge and divide everything into categories. But the reality is much more complex. We are creatures with complicated minds. We can feel two contradicting things at the same time without one being less true than the other. There is more than one perspective to everything. We’re all human, we’re all imperfect and that makes us who we are. ANTRACYTE is a celebration of the darkness within, the corners and edges of our soul, a reminder that nothing is ever simply black or white, but rather somewhere on the spectrum in betwee
n.”

Raw vulnerability and dissecting painful and often difficult themes are a commonality in your music, why do you think this is?

“It comes natural I guess. I know this sounds cliché but writing is definitely some sort of therapy for me. It often feels like it’s the direct line to my subconsciousness, that helps me understand what’s truly going on inside of me. I guess therefore inner conflicts or chaos and complicated emotion are what inspires a lot of my music. It’s weird, but I feel like music allows me access to a level of honesty to myself and my surrounding that I could never achieve any other way. It’s powerful stuff.”

What is your personal favorite song on the EP and why?

“I love them all for different reasons, but if I’d have to pick one then it would be MEDUSA, as it’s one of the first songs I ever wrote and therefore the one that accompanies me for the longest. Even though the song originates from a very dark period in my life, it now represents my personal and artistic growth before anything else. I could release an album with all the different versions I made of this song until I finally felt like it reached its rightful form and context with the one you hear today. Capturing several stages of my artistic development in the past 7 years.

When I wrote MEDUSA I was in a very dark place. I remember performing it for the first time, back then with my band in Holland and how absurd it felt to sing about being completely broken inside, about the pain I felt giving way to complete numbness, while going through it and then receiving applause. When I perform or listen to MEDUSA today, I still remember the story behind every line and I remember how I felt back then, but I mainly realize that those feelings have long gone, that I am a different person now, that I feel better, stronger, wiser and that it helped me learn so much about myself. The song developed and so did I. I guess we both needed time and I’m grateful that I allowed us to go through this long process of growth and healing, as it lead me to where and who I am today and to ANTRACYTE, my debut EP as it is.”

A highlight of making ANTRACYTE? 


“The entire process was really special and has taught me a lot. It was the first time I had the chance to express myself on so many levels and to bring my vision to life with the support of an incredibly amazing team. So I appreciate every part of it and I’m grateful for every soul involved. A highlights was definitely the video shoot for SHAME, as it was a really powerful experience to bring so many diverse, beautiful, inspiring women together, to connect, exchange and experience what female empowerment and mutual support truly feels like. It felt truly special and I can’t wait to create more moments like that.”

What would you like to achieve as an artist in the next 3 years?


“I hope to continue to grow as an artist, as a person, to further explore how to express myself visually. I definitely want to make an album and I’d love to tour or course, to create a live show in collaboration with designers, choreographers, dancers that brings all elements, all dimensions together. There are so many things I still want to learn and I can’t wait to see where this journey leads me.”

What can fans look forward to from MULAY next?


I have written a lot of new music during those two lockdown periods in 2020, also I’m really looking forward to a few feature releases that I was blessed be in the studio for with some amazing artists. These days I’m actually back in the studio to work on my second EP, so there’s a lot in the works… also, I can’t wait to get back on stage, let’s all hope the pandemic will come to an end soon and we can come together again and
celebrate new music with live shows!” ❤

Stream Mulay – ANTRACYTE

 

Follow Mulay on Instagram

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