class of 2016: mabel isn't afraid to love beyoncé

Being musically gifted comes as second nature to Mabel.

by Lynette Nylander
23 November 2015, 7:00pm

The offspring of the Queen of the Buffalo Stance, Neneh Cherry, and influential music producer Cameron McVey was always destined to be pretty special -- but no one could have predicted Mabel. The 19-year-old -- who's based both in Sweden and London -- saw her star shoot into the stratosphere when she became Annie Mac's Tune of the Week on BBC's Radio 1 with her first single, Know Me Better, a gold star for the most seasoned in the industry, never mind a young upstart. Just after the release of the video for her second song, My Boy, My Town, the soulful songstress sat down with us to talk Beyoncé, being herself and what she's trying to bring to the music world...

1. She's still really afraid of the dark.
"I have this whole ritual now because I've realized I can't fall asleep when it's too light. I sleep with sleeping goggles on -- that's like my weird diva thing. I just need to know the room is light."

2. Her dad told her about her big break.
"I was at a gig and my dad sent me a text like 'I just got a text from my friend and he says your Annie Mac's Tune of the Week' and I said 'Dad, your friend is obviously stupid; I'm obviously not Annie Mac's Tune of the Week.' I put my phone away, watched the rest of the gig and I picked my phone up afterwards and it had like 50 messages and loads of tweets. When I realized it was true, I just started crying so much."

3. She's obsessed with avocados.
"I eat a small harvest of avocados a week. I eat like 10, maybe more. At least one for breakfast and then guacamole for dinner."

4. Know Me Better is about someone she knows. 
"It started as a love song to my boyfriend at the time, but then I was writing it for myself. I was really nervous about releasing music and I suppose because of who my parents are, I wanted to do something that will really expose myself and say 'this is who I am.' It's about letting your guard down and letting people see the real you. I feel like I wrote it for me, too."

5. Her musical parents were overcome with emotion by Mabel's music.
"I was so nervous to play them my music. I started playing it and I didn't realize it at first, but I looked up and my dad was crying. My mom doesn't cry -- she just started sobbing. I was just being honest with that first song. I think for some people, it works to create a persona and a whole thing around them. But I just want to be honest and open. I want people to literally know me better, that's kind of why we went for that track first. I want people to get to know me through my music."

6. The best thing about growing up in Sweden was...
"Security. It's so safe. You can go on the trains on your own when your like 8 or 9 -- there's not really any crime in that sense. It's so small as well."

7. She was unaware of her unusual upbringing.
"When you're really young, you think everybody's family goes on tour or falls asleep in the studio. I got to a certain age and I was like 'okay, this isn't completely normal'. I must of been about 14 or 15 when I was like 'shit, my parents are so cool.' Not only are they musicians but they're really good musicians. I think that made me not want to do what I do; I am very much their daughter."

8. She took a detour on the way to music.
"For a while, I was still trying to like deny the fact that all I wanted to do was music. I started doing a yoga teacher training! It actually sounds so weird to say because it really doesn't suit me. I used to be a dancer so I'm quite flexible."

9. The worst thing about being a musician is...
"I suppose putting all my lyrics and everything that's personal to me out there. You have to let go and accept that people are going to make their own interpretations and maybe not like the stuff that you do. I've had people say stuff and comment on things. It's difficult at the beginning because you're like 'you can't tell me how I feel like, that is how I feel.' It's important to just let go of that because you can't face every single person."

10. She hails Queen Bey…
"Beyoncé is everything and I'm not ashamed to say that. I went to a music school and everybody listened to indie and I could not say that I like Beyoncé but she's just incredible. Destiny's Child's The Writing's On The Wall is probably one of the two most important albums of my life. I listen to a track from it basically everyday, anytime I feel lost. I just think she's amazing. Having her as a role model has been so good. She has made me feel like I can be the boss of my life, maybe."

Meet the rest of i-D's Musical Class of 2016.


Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Olivia Rose
Hair Jose Quijano at D+V Management using L'Oreal professional
Make-up Thom Walker using MAC
Photography assistance Rowan Hall
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic, Siobhan Wood, Issy Martin
Hair assistance Nicola Harrowell-Browne
Make-up assistance Famida Ayub, Ruth Coutinho
Mabel wears jacket Christopher Shannon. Rollneck Kenzo. Bracelet model's own.

neneh cherry
Cameron McVey
Class of 2016