Mae Stephens on viral hit 'If We Ever Broke Up' and working with Meghan Trainor.

Interview Mae Stephens: “the one day I get a hangover, I gain like 150,000 followers”

Viral hit ‘If We Ever Broke Up’ sent Mae Stephens careering straight into the Top 20. Now she’s ready to turn that golden moment into a fully-fledged pop success story.

“Everything is new to me, I’m like a newborn!” says Mae Stephens over Zoom from her home in Kettering. Mae makes no bones about the fact she pursued her musical breakthrough with laser-like focus; “Me and my dad studied the TikTok algorithm for years,” she says unselfconsciously. But now that it’s actually happening for her, pop stardom is still a lot to take in. “Everything excites me; everything shocks me,” says the 20-year-old singer-songwriter, her eyes widening. “But I’m at a point now where I kind of understand that this is slightly real and not some kind of dream.”

The pair’s research paid off right at the end of last year. Mae posted a 15-second video of her dancing to ‘If We Ever Broke Up’, which she captioned as “probably the funkiest song I’ve ever written”, then went off and got “very, very drunk” at a New Year’s Eve party. The next day, she woke up with “a hangover that felt like listening to drum’n’bass on repeat” and found herself inundated with notifications from the platform. “I don’t normally get hangovers, but the one day I get one, I gain like 150,000 followers,” she says with a laugh. “I remember my boyfriend looking over to me as if to say, ‘I think your song just blew up’.”

His instincts were spot on, no small thanks to its slinky funk-pop groove and witty lyrics. “If we ever broke up, I’d call your dad / And tell him all the shittiest of things you’ve said,” Mae sings with a wink. She was soon summoned to London where she spent “an exhausting three days” meeting record label bosses before ultimately deciding to sign with EMI. When ‘If We Ever Broke Up’ was officially released in February, it climbed to Number 13 on the UK singles chart and became a hit everywhere from Japan to New Zealand. Globally, it has now racked up 165 million Spotify streams.

Having quit her job at Asda, Mae is now fully embracing the pop star dream. She flew to LA for songwriting sessions that yielded new single ‘Mr Right’ - a funk-flecked bop that features Meghan Trainor - and has also travelled to Japan for a promo trip, and supported P!nk and Blackpink in Hyde Park. Somehow, Mae also found time along the way to move out of her family home and in with her boyfriend. “That’s helped a lot because I have my own space now,” she says. “And I’ve even set up a little home recording studio.”

For Mae, success feels even sweeter now having been so badly bullied at school that she even, briefly, lost her steely ambition. “I was told I was never going to make it, and because I was a big girl, that I’d never be on stage in a dress,” she says. “But I’ve proved that if you work hard, you can make it happen. Being an artist is the best job in the world and I’m not going to let it go.”

Watch the lyric video for ‘Mr Right’ below.

As featured in the August 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

June 2024

With Glass Animals, Los Campesinos!, Alfie Templeman, Lava La Rue and many more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY