In 2013, Mapei made the world fall in love with her with Don’t Wait, her single that became an instant hit. Now she’s back to make us fall in love with her stunning voice and sound all over again.
She recently moved back to Sweden from Los Angeles, although she’s always seen the world as her home – “like a true global citizen”. But right now, Sweden is the place where she works best. “Plus it’s where most of my friends are,” she says. “It started with me doing one gig here two years ago and ended up with me staying. You never know where I will end up. As with most immigrants who come to Sweden and work hard, their dream is to build a house and go back to their motherland. My dream is to reside by the beach in Monrovia, Liberia, or somewhere, and open a small juice bar of some sort. I think I was built to chill and do art in some remote place, in order for me to come back to metropolitan areas and put my canvases on display, whether that be of art, music or theatre. Sweden is a place that uplifts artists without them having to live by a standard of not eating or sleeping.”
Living in cities all around the globe and the experience of meeting people going the distance with their thing has taught her a lot and influenced her sound and creativity. “Living in New York from the age of 18 taught me a lot about life. Watching artists on television from afar in Sweden left me in the dark about how the industry really works. It really is an industry, and when you conform to that, your art will be a product. I met artists doing their own thing, and that made me believe that I could, too. I think I brought a sense of independence to the table in Sweden. I’m definitely an explorer when it comes to music. A heavy bass never hurts, though. I grew up hearing music like Stevie V or Latin freestyle blasting out of cars, only to find myself in Stockholm, in a very melancholic setting, so I would say I am a mix of that.”
Being an artist has many sides to it – it offers the opportunity to express yourself but also demands a lot of hard work. And being a musician and artist is something that has changed over the years, Mapei feels. “Not only are you a artist nowadays, you are a model and an influencer, with the gab of a mayor,” she says, laughing. “Jokes aside, it takes balls to say you’re an artist and do what you love at the same time as keeping business afloat. It is such an abstract field that has existed for decades and there really is no blueprint.”
Mapei’s voice is powerful, timeless and warm, with that certain old-school glamour that is hard to pinpoint. It was when she noticed that she could hit the “Mariah Carey note” that she knew she could sing. “That’s when I was like, ‘Mom, I wanna be a star.’ Throughout the years I have learnt that being a star is not everything. It is the creativity that counts, and luckily I am gifted with writing songs, visual art, and so on. I am still learning, though… ” Over the years, her sound has changed and gotten closer to her aesthetic. By creating pictures in her music of feelings and things she has gathered up seems to work as an outlet for her. “Music is like the love partner I cannot leave. It always calls on me, so I have accepted it’s love and I nourish it and make sure it reflects me,” she says.
Whyred has been a favourite of Mapei for some time now and, besides being in love with the name, she thinks their clothes and design always are on point. “Whyred is a legendary brand,” she says, although fashion is something that comes and goes in her life. “But there is no escaping the fact that everything is fashionable in or out of its context, which means anything can be fashionable. If we see a runway with naked people, nude will be the way to go. I hope… ” Mapei says, demonstrating her seemingly uncomplicated relationship with clothes.
Later this autumn, you’ll find Mapei on stage in both Copenhagen and Stockholm. While currently in the phase of working with new material, it’s hard for her to choose between the studio and being on stage. “The road is an external adventure and the studio is an internal one. I can’t choose between the two. I love sharing, so touring is the best way to do that.” He new single will be released soon, so get ready to welcome home one of Stockholm’s coolest voices.
Listen to Mapei here:
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