SOULFUL POP AND SPORTS-COOL STYLE -MAPEI'S MADE THE TOP OF OUR PLAYLIST
“My sound is American Cadillacs blasting out hip hop, mixed with the quiet melancholy of Sweden.” Mapei’s influences may seem disparate, but it’s all part of her unique appeal. Growing up between Rhode Island and Stockholm, she dabbled with rap as a teenager but it was singing that made this girl a star - her infectious debut ‘Don’t Wait’ went viral in its first day. With a hotly tipped album and support slots for John Legend coming up, the Mapei buzz is showing no signs of dying down. We talk songwriting, Sweden and John Legend’s hair.
What were your biggest influences when writing the album?
The album is very eclectic sonically. It was everything I listen to growing up - Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill, Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’ album, ‘90s pop tunes, Radiohead. The album is like a collage of different styles - from guitar riffs to marching drums and Americana-inspired pop.
Why did you make the transition from rapper to singer?
I always wanted to sing, but found it too scary. Rapping is so much easier because you can just be quirky and talk fast – it doesn’t display your soul as much. Now I’ve found my singing voice, it’s become completely natural.
You moved to Sweden when you were ten. How was that?
It was a huge culture shock. I was the first dark skinned girl in my school and felt very different culturally. I didn’t know the language either - I don’t think I spoke to anyone for months! But now it feels like home.
How would you describe your style?
It’s sporty with a feminine touch. On days off it’s all about sweat skirts and Reebok classics, but when I’m performing I’ll go all out in hippie dresses and crazy flowers. I always need to be comfortable – I hardly ever wear heels.
What’s the your favourite Topshop piece?
The white faux fur jacket – I feel amazing in it and love that it’s not real fur. I’d wear it on a date or out to dinner in Stockholm when it’s cold.
You’re touring with Lykke Li right now. Are you close?
Lykke Li and I go way back. When she was first starting out I put her up in my New York apartment so she could start playing open mic nights there. After that we became good friends and I’d always bring her up on stage at my shows.
Then it’s the John Legend tour. How did that come about?
Apparently he just heard my music one day and said this girl is coming on tour with me. He’s a god so I’ll probably be star struck when I meet him. I’m going to be standing there just looking at his S-curls – he has really cool curls.
Who would you love to work with?
I’d love to sing on a Pharrell track – he’s a dope producer.