Mimi Webb Wants To ‘Absolutely Smash It’ In America
Since 2020, Mimi Webb has been making waves in the Britpop scene. The singer-songwriter from Canterbury, who started writing songs when she was just a teenager, rose to prominence on TikTok after Charlie D’Amelio featured her debut single “Before I Go” in one of her posts. Quickly, Webb gained a following by sharing the reactions of family and friends to her music. She also established herself as a bedroom pop princess with a knack for taking her massive R&B vocals and filtering them through upbeat dance-pop production to craft her soulful sound. She’s been on a roll since, launching major tours in 2022 and performing for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. She then kicked off 2023 with a nomination for “Best New Artist” at the BRIT Awards. Now, she says she’s ready to absolutely smash it in America.
“Music is so different here, and it can feel very distant and disconnected at times,” the 22-year-old tells Rolling Stone on a recent Zoom call from London. “To be able to go out there and do my thing as a UK artist would be the biggest honor — and that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Webb’s debut album, Amelia, out on March 3, serves as her proper introduction to the world. It’s a vibrant, nostalgic record of her coming-of-age voyage to self-love that follows her 2021 EP Seven Shades of Heartbreak, in which she chronicled the rollercoaster of emotions she experienced in past relationships. Like the EP, the album expands on her repertoire of boppy breakup anthems and sentimental ballads through songs like “Roles Reversed” and “Red Flags.” But Amelia — a title that comes from Webb’s real name — is also a chance for her to portray a different side of herself and dive deeper into her artistry. “Once this album’s out, I’m going to test the waters,” she says. “I’m going to reinvestigate everything and retry things. The thing that I love about writing music is that there’s no boundaries.”
You mentioned that your album gives fans a glimpse of both sides of you. There’s Amelia, and there’s Mimi. Tell me more.
Amelia is the countryside girl — grew up in the countryside, always dreamt of doing what Mimi does. And then Mimi’s really sassy, outgoing, always traveling, doing the singing, and it’s being able to bring those two people together. The album is all about my journey and how I’ve grown as a person, not just in my career but in general being in your late teens, early twenties. It’s beautiful with how it’s got both those sides to me, and people are gonna get to know me so much more as an artist and as a person.
Amelia feels a lot like a love letter to yourself. Was that something you intended when you first started the album?
Yeah, once we had the main track, “Amelia,” kind of done, that’s when it made sense to really fold it [Amelia] around that, especially because I knew that I wanted the title to be something that would sum up the whole story. Once I came out with the title, naming it my real name, it felt right to add new songs to help tell that story.
I saw in your “2022 eras” TikTok post that you’re now in your “Amelia era.” What does that mean?
I’m now growing up, so kind of in the stage of wanting to show my homebody kind of self.
Seven Shades of Heartbreak is about the heartache you experienced in 2021. So, how did your 2022 go?
It was such an incredible year. I couldn’t believe it. We went everywhere, did lots of incredible tours. I got to, also, see some incredible places, and I did release a lot of new tunes. We released “House on Fire” at the start of last year, and it was so incredible to see how well that song did. It was just amazing, it couldn’t have gone any better.
You first blew up on TikTok. Do you ever feel pressured to make music that you think will go viral?
Yeah. It’s always kind of in the back of your head, but for me to be able to be creative and to have a creative flow openly, I have to just focus on the song and not focus too much on the social media side of it. At the end of the day, I’m an artist, not just for TikTok. So, I just stick to — as a songwriter — my usual methods and then think about the release process afterwards.
When I started out — I signed when I was 18 — and the pressures of comparing yourself constantly to other people and always feeling a bit insecure and not worthy. When I look back now, I kind of want to say to myself, “No, it’s all gonna work out the way it’s meant to, and everyone does their journey in their own way, so stop putting pressure on myself.” That’s something that I really had to deal with and learn to understand.
You’ve mentioned how writers hold on to heartbreak longer than other people. Can you speak more about that?
Writing is so therapeutic for me. It’s all about being able to let my feelings out, get them down on paper, and even when I go into the studio with my friends, to be able to tell them about what’s going on and get it off my chest is part of the process and it’s exactly what I did for this album. I think the reason [people] can connect as well is because they can feel that that is me connecting with the music to help me through it.
As part of last year’s Platinum Jubilee, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession, you sang “House on Fire.” What was it like to perform for the queen?
It was honestly incredible. We were on like three hours of sleep from a show in Europe because we were on tour at the time. It was just emotional. Everyone definitely had the nerves kick in for this show, and everyone was so supportive, cheering everyone on. It was a time in history I’ll never forget.
You got a bit of heat on Twitter from people who thought singing about setting a house on fire outside Buckingham Palace was “inappropriate.” I was wondering what your take was on it.
Well, we wanted to make sure [the BBC was] happy, and they were happy to go ahead. Alicia Keys, she also performed, and she had a background with the fire going on. Once the backlash came out, it was just kind of like “OK….” I listened to what people said and what they thought. It didn’t take away from how incredible the experience was.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
[Would] love to collaborate with Coldplay. I think that’d be so much fun. I’m obsessed with their live instrumentation, and I was really inspired by them for the album.
What’s on your vision board for 2023?
Oh gosh. 2023. Number one album. Number one song. I want to really smash it out in America and do my thing there. Tour, I want to completely just smash it. Lots of festivals this summer. And then Christmas, I want to be able to do Jingle Balls and all of that kind of stuff. You know, set the year off with feeling like I’ve achieved everything.