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STYLE AND CULTURE

ASOS MAG CHATS WITH MABEL

May 21, 2019

For their new summer issue, ASOS Magazine sat down with R&B's new It girl Mabel to talk about her mixed heritage, her musical family and why she's optimistic about her generation. Read part of the conversation below and pick up the latest issue of the mag for the rest, as well as interviews with Khalid, Dove and much more.
Mabel in ASOS Mag | ASOS Style Feed

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On her mixed heritage
I’m Sierra Leonean, I’m Swedish, I’m English. But I found it hard to claim the black side even though it’s a massive part of who I am. My mother’s black, but I look how I look. Am I not allowed to sing a certain way? Am I not allowed to make music with a certain type of people? So last year I was like, "Yeah, I’m mixed race, I am who I am." When people ask me if I’m mixed race I say, "It’s the same as my music, it’s all mixed, hon!"

On her relationship with her mother (singer Neneh Cherry)
I’m so proud. We were both undergoing self-discovery journeys making our albums. I hadn’t moved out and it’s difficult having two people under one roof being extremely self-indulgent. We have a very good relationship, though I worry about her. I think lots of daughters feel that way.

Mabel in ASOS Mag | ASOS Style Feed

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On living in Sweden

There’s so much I love about Sweden and being Swedish, but I also felt like a fucking alien there. Everything’s very clean and white. Our family — my granddad from Sierra Leone (musician Ahmadu Jah) — would barbecue chicken outside on Christmas Day, in minus 20! But I’m proud we were different. Me and my friend were the only brown girls in school, [so] we were "exotic."

 

On her responsibility to her followers

I’ve got half a million followers and 80% are girls. I don’t want anybody to think I’m perfect or happy all the time. I have demons: about my body, having a spot and doing the red carpet... It sounds cheesy, but when I was younger if one of my idols had been like, "I’m anxious" it would have made me feel less like an alien. I wanna make people feel they’re not alone, because I felt alone.

Mabel in ASOS Mag | ASOS Style Feed

Pictures: Olivia Rose, Styled by Natalie Michaelides

On the Grenfell Tower tragedy
I’m fuming. I drive past it every day and say a prayer because that shit hurts. That’s my home, this is where I’m from and I won’t forget. Families of five living in horrible hotels, up on the 12th floor. That is so fucking traumatizing. It’s heartbreaking and it’s gonna hurt [the people of Grenfell] for the rest of their lives. But my community’s amazing and seeing the love and support that everybody had for each other… We’ll never forget.

On her generation
I think my generation is sick! I feel optimistic about what we can bring to the world even though it is fucked up. I look at the news and I’m like, how with Brexit, how with Donald Trump? My parents taught me to think positively and there’s a lesson to be learnt from every tragedy. So I feel positive because my generation is using our platforms for things like mental health and Grenfell. We are the future.

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