From viral TikTok fame to sold-out tours and chart-bothering hits: Mimi Webb reflects on her journey to becoming a rising star and shares details about her highly-anticipated debut album ‘Amelia’.
Words: Ali Shutler.
Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Styling: Lauren Groves.
Make up: Jacinta Spencer.
Hair: Andrew Kyriakou.
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to be a huge pop star,” grins Mimi Webb. Following the release of her debut EP ‘Seven Shades Of Heartbreak’ at the tail end of 2021, the past twelve months have seen the 22-year-old singer living out those ambitious, glitzy dreams. There’s been her own UK headline tour, a run across North America supporting Tate McRae, festivals and TV appearances. She even crashed the UK singles chart with the snarling revenge anthem ‘House On Fire’, which reached Number 6. “I was always just very driven. I wanted to be huge. I wanted to be a superstar,” she continues before pausing. “I think we’re getting there.” You can say that again.
Despite “dreams upon dreams” coming true throughout 2022, it was still something of a warmup for Mimi Webb. Zooming from her London flat ahead of some last-minute Christmas shopping and a trip back to her hometown of Canterbury, she’s busy gearing up to release debut album ‘Amelia’. Based on what we’ve heard, it’s the sort of swaggering pop album that’ll turbo-charge her rise.
“I was always the girl next door who was confident enough to sing all my emotions,” explains Mimi of her success so far. “People can obviously relate to all the breakup songs.” What’s also helped is how Mimi has handled the spotlight. Her social media is a giddy mix of outrageous, bucket list moments, shared with all the excitement you’d expect from someone living out their dreams.
In fact, Mimi owes a lot to platforms like TikTok. Her first viral moment came in 2019 when Charli D’Amelio (dancer and one of the most-followed people on the site) shared a video of Mimi singing a cover of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ and her own unreleased song ‘Before I Go’ in a restaurant. It might sound horribly contrived, but the reality is a lot more normal. Mimi was in New York having meetings with labels. Her manager knew Charli’s and thought the two would get on, so they went for dinner. “I had no clue what TikTok was,” admits Mimi. “But Charli was so lovely, and we had such a great time together. We ended up making a couple of TikToks because we thought it would be a laugh. It really was just a bit of fun.
“Singing has always really fulfilled me. I’m obsessed with it”Mimi Webb
“Then Charli posted one, and it got something like 100 million views,” which gave Mimi’s label the push to actually release ‘Before I Go’. Charli then used it on a few of her dance videos, which only amped up the buzz around Mimi Webb.
But Mimi had been working towards being a pop star long before that viral moment. Growing up, she performed at school talent shows and plays as well as starting piano lessons at age 12. Her debut album also features a song she started writing when she was just five.
After finishing her GCSEs, Mimi knew she wanted to take singing more seriously, so she left home and moved to Brighton to study songwriting at college. “It was such a big step for me, leaving my friends and my family behind and practically starting a new life for myself, but I knew I needed to do it because I wanted to be confident enough to step out of my comfort zone when things took off,” explains Mimi. “Every step was me working towards being this huge pop star.”
“I’ve always had this energy about me and being able to perform lets me let that energy out,” she continues, explaining how “singing has always really fulfilled me. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve always said to my mum that being a pop star is the job for me,” she continues, adding that she enjoys every aspect of the job – even the interviews. “When you find a passion for something, nothing can stop you.”
It didn’t happen overnight, though. For the next two years, Mimi released countless songs on SoundCloud (including a sadly deleted drum & bass number) and performed at as many open mic nights as she could. “I was watching old videos the other day and getting quite emotional. I really had no idea what I was doing back then. The pre-show nerves were always unbearable, and that girl in the video would be so overwhelmed with where I am today,” says Mimi, who performed at London’s O2 Arena a few weeks earlier and is now thinking about headlining the venue herself. “I was always confident, but I still spent so much time questioning if it would all work out.”
“In those early days, I was in an environment where I was surrounded by other musicians, and it was really quite magical. Everyone wants to get where they want to go, and it’s a lovely feeling being around people who are so driven. Seeing the graft they all put in, despite none of us knowing how the industry worked – it was so inspiring. We all just loved music.”
Mimi goes on to say how those early performances “definitely shaped the artist I am today. Standing on stage, everything else goes out of your mind, and it’s such an amazing feeling.”
“They also gave me my work ethic. So many people want this, but it only happens for a few. I look back at those early days, and it keeps me going. I’m so grateful for where I am today, but there’s so much more I want to achieve,” she adds. “There’s so much further for me to go.”
TikTok has been “incredible” for Mimi Webb, and it helped her build a fanbase through the pandemic when she couldn’t play shows. “But I signed my record deal way before that. I had already found my feet, and I knew what I wanted to do as an artist before anything went viral,” she explains. “I’d been in the studio for years, getting my sound together. Nowadays, you can release a song yourself, it goes viral, and you’ve got record labels knocking down your door.” It’s an event she agrees would be shit scary. “For me, it was so important to have that knowledge of social media but to also know who I was as an artist. When things blew up, I could tackle everything head-on.”
Heartbreaking debut single ‘Before I Go’ was released in 2000 and quickly racked up millions of streams on Spotify. ‘I’ll Break My Heart Again’ and ‘Reasons’ soon followed, establishing Mimi as an artist comfortable wielding emotional devastation. Bombastic fourth single ‘Good Without’ followed in 2021 and reached Number 8 in the UK singles chart. Mimi says she knew that track was special as soon as it was written. “I was actually meant to release a different song around that time, but I’d just written ‘Good Without’ and was so excited about it.” She teased it on TikTok, and “bang, it just blew up. So we put it out, and things went absolutely mad. We were still coming out of lockdown at the time, so I was still waking up every day and just staying at home. It felt like I was in this strange little bubble while the outside world was changing around me.”
“Being able to speak about mental health really empowers me”Mimi Webb
Things haven’t settled down since. Follow-up ‘Dumb Love’ also crashed into the Top 20 before debut EP ‘Seven Shades Of Heartbreak’ saw Mimi take an emotional stroll through a gut-wrenching breakup. Lewis Capaldi was at her October 2021 headline show at London’s Scala, and the pair have kept in touch ever since. Mimi says she’d love to collaborate with him, but they’re both too busy promoting their albums for it to become a reality at the moment. “I’d love to work with him, though. He’s incredible, and the song would be amazing.”
Meanwhile, 2022 has been a blur of flights, festivals and TV appearances for Mimi. “It’s been so strange. I come home to my flat in London, and you can just tell I’ve been gone for seven weeks. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to just enjoy it, though. There are so many emotions that come from travelling that much. You’re constantly out of your literal comfort zone, and you start to feel things you haven’t felt before.”
Recent single ‘Ghost Of You’ was written about turning anxieties into strength. “You know when you go to bed, and you can’t sleep because you’re overthinking everything? Well, I wrote a song about that feeling,” said Mimi in a TikTok about the track before admitting, “I still get anxiety, but this really helped me cope with it all.” Other videos show her experiences with stage fright.
“It’s so important to me to talk openly about mental health,” Mimi says. “I’ve recently learnt about the power of emotional speaking, and being able to speak about mental health really empowers me. I value being able to be open about it so highly because it’s so important to talk about your feelings.”
She goes on to say that over the past few months, she’s had an “awakening” in regard to her own mental health. “I knew it was coming over the summer, I could feel it rearing its head, and it just got to the point where I needed to deal with it.” She now works with a mindset coach.
“It’s so important to see that vulnerability and see the realness of what goes on behind closed doors,” says Mimi, knowing that from the outside, her life might look like a fairytale. “Social media isn’t real, though. I have my dream job, but even I get stuck for hours, freaking out about people doing better than me. I just have to keep reminding myself that there are no mountains without valleys.”
She says that it’s been “really inspiring” to hear other people’s stories since the release of ‘Ghost Of You’. “I just want to give other people the confidence to speak about what they’re going through and for my music to be there for people who are going through a rough time.”
Back in November, Mimi was rushed to hospital and posted an Instagram story telling fans that she needed to take some time off. “Listen to your body always,” she added. She doesn’t go into detail about what happened today, but does say that because she’s so excited about her upcoming debut album and all the things that have happened in a relatively short space of time, “that in my own head, I’ve got this pressure on me.”
“I love my fans so much, and I want people to really get something from my music. It is exciting, and there is this pressure for it to do well, but that’s so normal. That’s me being super passionate and super driven.” She handles the pressure by “taking every day as it comes” and trying her best not to beat herself up for taking a day to sit in her flat and do nothing. “Just because you’re not working today doesn’t mean you’re not working hard.”
After taking some time off over Christmas, Mimi Webb believes 2023 “is just going to be another level up.” The first stop is new single ‘Red Flags’, which acts as the biggest introduction to her debut album ‘Amelia’. “It’s got more of a sassier, sexy vibe, and it’s so fun. It’s about those situations where we know things aren’t right, we can see those red flags, but we ignore them anyway.”
“When you’re at a low point in your life, it’s so easy to feel lost, lonely and like no one understands”Mimi Webb
“There’s this dark element to it, but it’s so confident as well. It’s got that ‘I know what I’m doing’ vibe to it where you just go for it,” she adds.
After a string of successful, stripped-back songs of heartbreak, Mimi says there was a pressure to do more of the same “because it works. And it did work. There’s this panic about finding your sound and sticking to it when you have. But with an album, you want to make clear what your intentions are.”
Mimi goes on to say that because of the personal connections fans can build with artists through platforms like TikTok, the entire music industry is evolving. “You don’t have to just be one thing anymore. You can be whatever you want to be.” Amelia features those emotional tracks, but there are also band-inspired “big songs. I wanted all my inspirations there.”
Growing up, Mimi looked up to artists like Adele, Amy Winehouse and Nat King Cole. In recent months though, she’s started taking inspiration from the likes of Dua Lipa, Coldplay and Miley Cyrus as well. There are even some “really cool guitar parts” on the album.
“Even growing as a woman, I’m just feeling so much more confident. I’m finding that I feel sexy. I started as this girl next door, and that’s always going to be part of who I am, but now I want to level up. I’m growing as a person, so my music is growing as well.” ‘Amelia’ is a celebration of that growth.
“People will really be able to see who I am as a person on this album. As soon as I came up with the idea of using my actual name as the title, I got goosebumps,” says Mimi, with that particular brainwave coming in the backseat of a taxi. “I put my absolutely everything into that record, I’ve shown sides of myself I’ve never shown before, and there’s such a depth to it. Everything about it feels so special.”
She doesn’t think ‘Amelia’ will surprise her fans. Instead, she’s expecting people to go, “’Ahh, here she is. Mimi’s turned up’. All my singles, the EP – it all felt a bit like teasing to me. I think this album is what people have been waiting for, honestly.”
‘Amelia’ sees Mimi Webb “find herself, in all sorts of different ways,” she considers. “I never even set about writing an album. I’d just go into the studio to write a song to let my feelings out. Because of that, I never had those intense album pressures. It just kinda spilt out of me.”
There’s even a song written for her younger self. Despite the millions of people who now listen to her music, Mimi finds it easier than ever to be so vulnerable. “There was a time when I was scared about showing off these different sides of myself because I don’t always know how it’s going to go down. But you just need to grab the confidence by the horns and go for it.”
She continues: “Also, being vulnerable is so therapeutic to me. I love emotional speaking, and I think telling other people your story just helps you understand what you’ve been through.”
“Being able to release music and seeing people open up to it, I’m so grateful. I think we all forget that there’s someone out there going through a similar thing to you,” says Mimi.
“When you’re at a low point in your life, it’s so easy to feel lost, lonely and like no one understands. But when I’m performing, I can actually see people reacting to what I’ve gone through. It makes me feel like we’re all standing together, and I don’t feel so lonely. It’s just a really magical moment.
“I’m so inspired by people who are comfortable being vulnerable, crying and showing their emotions in a situation like that. Every time I’m in the studio, I’m thinking about them, and I try to create something relatable.”
Despite that personal touch, Mimi Webb has big ambitions for ‘Amelia’. Rehearsals start in the New Year for her biggest-ever tour, with Mimi wanting the shows to feel like a “party”. As for getting a Number 1 album, “It’s already in the bag. I’m really trying to manifest it, but yeah, that’s the aim,” grins Mimi. “I think having the confidence to say that out loud is where it’s at.”
“I’m just so excited about everything,” she adds. “If you’d told me a year ago I’d be releasing an album, I’d have been so confused. Like, where do you even start? But I’ve been putting in the work, and now, there’s something coming. I can feel it.
“If I start thinking about where I’ll be this time next year, I can’t help but smile because the possibilities seem so exciting.” ■
Taken from the February 2023 edition of Dork. Mimi Webb’s debut album ‘Amelia’ is out 3rd March.
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