Mabel: redefining 90s R&B for a new generation

New Noise is a regular feature dedicated to spotlighting artists on the rise. Discover more New Noise artists that are making sweet tuneage here. This edition, we introduce Mabel.

Name: Mabel

Location: London

Food for your earbuds: Bedroom

For people who rate: Kali Uchis, Kehlani, Becky Hill

Forged by London’s busy and vivacious urban lifestyle, at 21 Mabel McVey is making ripples with her reimagined r&b sound. Her debut single “Know Me Better”, released in 2016, has over 300k plays on SoundCloud.

What’s shocking about her debut single and the album following it is that it’s all so extremely polished for such a young newcomer.  Mabel was born into music – her mother being Swedish musician Neneh Cherry and her father, Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey – music is inevitably in her blood. While touring with them and going to their concerts, music was the only real constant in her life, she went on to study music production in Stockholm.

Not a stranger to high expectations, especially considering who her parents are, an independent mindset shines through on her most recent project, the Bedroom EP. More specifically, Mabel describes instances where she has to think about herself and her goals rather than long term relationships that might weigh her down. On “Talk About Forever” she sets the scene: a chill house party in July where her significant other starts getting touchy. She explains “Every moment we’re together, babe / We can make our own world / Just let me be my own girl.” All of this is suspended on a woozy beat, and sung with a careful cadence reminiscent of Lauryn Hill.

It’s obvious to see that Mabel takes her cues from Nineties female icons, she’s also not afraid to channel the energy of her contemporaries into her music either. “Kehlani is so refreshing in terms of R&B. In the ‘90s and early ‘00s, there were so many strong female R&B singers, but I feel like at some point there was a weird dip where it became really male-dominated. The fact that Kehlani showed up and is bossing it is amazing, it makes me so happy”, she gushed to The Fader.

Besides bossing up the R&B game, Mabel also has an eye for fashion. Heavily influenced by her mother’s extensive vintage closet and self expression, she explains in a recent interview with Nylon Magazine, that Rihanna embodies such authenticity: “Whatever she does, she just owns it, I think it takes time, to get that confidence.”

Self-assured, yet calculative, Mabel is already thinking about the future. Too many young artists get their recognition with one big hit only to fall off a few months later, but Mabel has it all planned out: “I want to be an artist that grows slowly. If you appear overnight there’s a chance that you will also just disappear overnight, I think people do want to see the natural evolutions. I don’t want to be all over the place with my style and my music, but I am experimenting”, she told Nylon.

Mabel’s debut EP, “Bedroom” is out now.

Words by Dale St. Marthe