Several months prior to now, R&B singer Mabel was trying to kill time even though she waited to go to the gym.
“I’d booked some dumb exercise class at eight o’clock and it was six – so my brother was like, ‘Just get on the piano and see what happens.'”
Forty-five minutes later, the 21-year-old had written Finders Keepers, a song that’s now firmly lodged inside the Top 10.
“It’s amazing,” she tells the BBC. “I just wanted to make something fun for me and my friends.”
Mabel has been making waves since 2015, when she released the slinky, sensual Know Me Better, with its seductive refrain: “I could go all day wearing nothing but your kiss”.
But she’s been around music all her life. Her parents are hip-hop legend Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey.
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Sounds Like Friday Night
Born in the mountains of Malaga, she was raised between Spain, London and Stockholm, learning piano at the age of five and choreographing routines to Destiny’s Child with her sister.She’s no stranger to the recording studio either, accompanying McVey when he produced the Sugababes’ debut album, One Touch, in 2000.
At the tender age of four, she managed to sleep through the whole thing. “Do you know what? It’s still a problem!” she laughs.
“The vibrations of the bass make me so cosy. The other day I had a blanket inside of the studio and my brother was like, ‘You need to move.
You’re not writing, you’re napping!'”
The habit has earned her the nickname Lil’ Bassy – and it’s not just confined to the studio. “It’s concerts as well!” she says. “If I put earplugs in, the muffled sound of a gig gets me.
“Not at my own shows though,” she clarifies. “[There’s] no sleeping if I’m on stage.”Given her background, Mabel’s success might seem like a fait accompli. But for a long time, she avoided making music.
“I felt really embarrassed by being my mum and dad’s daughter,” she at the time said. “I thought, ‘People will never take me seriously.'”
She eventually overcame that fear and enrolled to study production and music theory in Stockholm. After graduating she moved to London.
There she was cast for a photo shoot in i-D magazine. That caught the attention of Skepta, who put her in his video for Shutdown.
Mabel’s hip-hop tinged debut, Know Me Better, went viral soon afterwards, propelling Mabel onto the BBC’s Sound of 2016 listRead More.