mazie mixes modern malaise with vintage psychedelia: nostalgia laced with an impending sense of doom fueled by a world in ever-deepening crisis. Her songs are built on contradictions and double negatives, pairing fatalistic lyrics with shiny, alt-pop arrangements that are as infectious as they are unpredictable. “My music is heavily rooted in existentialism, and the duality of the whimsical and upbeat nature of the project combined with the sadness of the lyrics displays that,” notes the musician, who will release her debut EP the rainbow cassette on “I’m always trying to walk that line.”
And so mazie smiles and laughs as she steps into the abyss, because if the world’s about to end, why not at least have a little fun with it?
mazie fell in love with singing at an early age and spent most of her childhood studying classical and jazz vocals. By the time she hit her teenage years living outside of Baltimore, she was writing her own music and recording it with her neighbor, Elie Jay Rizk, who was teaching himself to engineer and produce in his basement studio. The two spent years experimenting and collaborating before they landed on “no friends,” mazie’s breakout 2020 debut. Clocking in at less than two minutes, the utterly addictive single exploded online, earning widespread acclaim and quickly racking up millions of streams. “We were in total shock,” says mazie. “That song really defined the project for us, and when it started going crazy, everything just accelerated.”
In the months to come, the pair would follow it up with two more singles, the lilting “i think i wanna be alone” and trippy “sippy cup,” both of which arrived to similarly rapturous responses. Like “no friends,” the tracks were deceptively cheerful, full of jaunty melodies and earworm hooks and accompanied by DIY artwork and videos that resembled outtakes from some deranged children’s TV show.
the rainbow cassette is the culmination of the last five years of work and introspection for mazie, and Elie was right beside her on production duties. The eight-song set includes her previous three singles, four new tracks and a remix of her first release “no friends.” It sees mazie transition from childhood to adulthood, recorded as she and Elie were in the process of leaving school while also being in the midst of a pandemic that displayed every major flaw of our society. The duo started the recording process in Baltimore and finished it in Los Angeles, after they relocated to the West Coast in late 2020.
“Every song on the rainbow cassette not only touches on realizing you’ve become an adult, but also the very harsh realities that come with adulthood. It is the embodiment of so much personal growth and discovery,” mazie notes. “The pandemic and 2020 presidential election were also happening while we were recording most of the EP, which ended up really influencing the message and tone of the whole project.”
“i think i wanna be alone” was recorded the day after she came back from protesting in support of the Black Lives Matters movement in Washington, DC. “I was there the night protestors got on the White House lawn and it was an extremely transformative and radicalizing event for me. I have always been politically active, but I was especially involved in protesting in Philly and DC throughout the whole summer. It truly changed the course of my activism. The song was heavily influenced by my feelings and experiences at that time.” Likewise, the single “dumb dumb” was written and recorded the day the Insurrection took place at the Capitol Building. The entire song concept was derived from the event, written as mazie and Elie were unpacking what they were watching on the news that day.
While mazie may be a stage name, it’s certainly not a character. The emotions behind the songs — the highs and lows and pain and hope and sadness and joy — are as real as can be, even when they all happen at the exact same time. “The lyrics are the core piece to my songs,” mazie explains. “I feel like every song places a feeling of mine under a microscope and really allows me to dig into grander ideas and emotions I have towards those feelings.”
Happy and sad, bitter and sweet, vulnerable and guarded, mazie is full of contradictions and that’s just the way she likes it.