Melancholy may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you click on Mei’s socials.
But behind the pastels and ultra-bright visuals, this Worthing based producer and singer invites that uneasy but beautiful feeling all too easily though her music. With a growing audience and an established place in some of the most impactful groups of the scene, we sat down with the Cyber Princess to talk music, style and what’s next.
So let’s start by talking about your latest track 'u make me feel so'. What was the inspiration behind it?
So that song was inspired by boredom, it's sort of an ironic song about being young and naïve. It’s meant to sound like a love song that I just 'threw' together. But it really isn't a love song at all.
Is that something you like to do when writing? Like give the song an overall 'feel' but the content doesn’t quite fit?
I like to portray a lot of songs as if the lyrics have a straightforward meaning, almost as if they have no other layers to them, much like how some things appear in real life. For example, you see a homeless person doing drugs and you might just think they're homeless because of their drug addiction but we forget there are stories that lead them to the place they are now.
I feel you. You can take the music at face value but the meaning comes across in the depth of what those lyrics mean
Your singing style lends itself to that feel too. Who or what influences the way you sing?
A lot of jazz singers. Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald. Erykah Badu is a huge influence as well, her songs tell interesting stories. But at the moment Lana Del Rey is my main influence, the way she expresses emotion through her voice I think is beautiful.
Singers are fairly rare in lofi. Why do you think that is?
Lofi is an underground scene; it hasn't hit the charts yet. I still know a lot of people who are musicians that have never heard of it before.
Word. Lofi beats tend not to stick to a verse, chorus structure too so it's a learning curve for some singers. What made you want to sing over lofi?
That's true it definitely lends itself more to rappers. I started off singing to chillhop radios on youtube and from there I found Tomppabeats and fell in love.
So what was it that attracted you to it? Did you feel it fit what your lyrics musically or was it something else?
It had everything I loved all in one. I loved the jazz samples, the melancholic rainy day vibe, the soft static. It got my creativity flowing.
I feel you. You make beats too. How did you get started with that?
One of my friends made beats so he showed me how to do it all on Ableton.
Ahh ok so did you take it up purely for making beats or was it an extension or supplement for your singing? Like was it beats or singing that came first?
Singing first, but it has helped as I haven't had to rely on other producers for beats and learning the craft has helped me to appreciate all the work that is put into this genre. I mean lofi has this stigma around it that it's a really easy type of music to make but I have been on it for months and can still only do the simple things.
Yeah the depth of it comes from its surface simplicity. To make a beat properly hit there are so many little tricks you need to master to make something that on first listen is very simple.
In terms of beat making who has influenced you and in what way?
A lot of my beat maker friends have influenced me. It’s motivating to have a lot of people around me putting out great content all the time in the lofi genre. The person that has influenced me most is GOLDEN CΔT as he was the first person that I really talked to from lofi.
Do you think lofis at that stage now where we have more influencers within the scene than from without?
Lofi and Hip Hop production in general is quite a boys club. What’s your experience been like being a woman in the scene?
I don't think anyone treats me differently for being a woman, I've never had any issues. It's been overall good vibes. I'd love to see more female producers out there for sure though.
Word. There’s definitely some wicked female talent in the scene. Are there any female producers you think are killing it right now?
Sadiva for sure! She's cool. Also there is taıpa 彡 - she's a singer though - who I love, her music is so interesting.
You are also part of the Saikei Collective. How did you get on the roster?
I entered for a compilation and they hit me up on my facebook page and asked if I wanted to join.
Oh wow ok so it was that simple! Lots of artists we speak to are either on Saikei or speak really highly of it. Why do you think they are so essential for the scene?
Saikei puts out the best compilations and all the artists on the roster are so talented and individual.
Do you think the scene lives and dies with its collectives? I mean over the last year we have seen groups like Saikei really take a strong role as curators of this music.
You could say that but I think at the moment a lot of youtube channels are really taking the lead.
Oh yeah? Yeah, there are definitely channels pushing shit right now but there has been some backlash over channels like Chilled Cow. Why do you think this is?
They seem to only like one type of lofi (the 'weaboo' anime style). They tend to misrepresent the genre, making a lot of people feel like it's easy to make, just a jazz loop with some drums and static.
So as well as Saikei. You also are involved with soaesthetic. How did that come about?
I liked their clothes so I emailed them and they let me have my own little promo code so anyone I know is free to use that to get a discount.
Ahh ok that’s cool!
Yeah you have a very strong aesthetic across all your platforms and even in the video for 'u make me feel so.' What attracts you to this style?
I love 80s and 90s movies. Also, my style has that nostalgic feel which I think is really beautiful.
It’s quite a stark contrast isn’t it? Like your music can have an almost sorrowful tone but the bright visual aspect is explosive. Do you think there’s something subversive about this disconnect?
I think nostalgia is a sad feeling. We will never get back what we once had in the past and I like to convey that in both my music and visuals.
What can we expect from you in the future? What’s on the horizon?
I hope to bring something new to mainstream music, I can't say when and if that will happen but it's what I'm aiming for. It would be nice to make a real change. My style is now going to be leaning more towards a trip-hop vibe for sure and I'll be making a lot more visuals.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Where can we keep up to date with all you’re doing?
Soundcloud @mereilla. I will be posting more on my YouTube channel, just type in Mëi and it should come up. My Facebook is @meiiimusic. Same with Twitter.
Listen to Mei's latest below: