“Vulnerability is a beautiful thing”
Sometimes life seems very much like a movie. This couldn’t be more true for Mogli, the singer-songwriter, who crafted her 11-month North-American travels into a motion picture. ‘Expedition Happiness’ was the inception for her EP ‘Wanderer’, a tender introduction to the angelic voice and curious spirit that is Mogli. Now with her forthcoming EP, Mogli, the wanderer, turns into herself with an introspective body of work aptly titled ‘Patience’.
A conversation with the singer about what it means to be vulnerable and yet incredibly strong.
SARAH OSEI Could you introduce yourself for anyone who doesn’t know Mogli?
MOGLI Singer-songwriter, movie producer, director, fair-fashion ambassador.
SO What’s the story behind the moniker?
M I looked like Mowgli as a kid; I literally used to run around in my underwear and loved to climb trees. When I had dreadlocks at age 11 the nickname kind of replaced my real name, and nowadays most people don’t even know anything other than ‘Mogli’.
SO When did you decide that music was the right path for you?
M I started to hum melodies as a baby before I could even speak and have spent nearly everyday since singing. When it was time to decide what to do with my life it was pretty clear that it had to be something where I can carry on doing that. Plus, being able to express myself through songwriting is one of the most important things in life for me.
“My biggest goal in everything I create is to be as vulnerable as possible. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing.”
SO Is there anyone who stands out in particular as influential or important to your journey with music?
M I get inspired by people who I feel create art without thinking about how it’s going to be perceived. Bon Iver or Lorde, for example, are artists where I can feel the raw authenticity and honesty in every note.
SO What were your expectations when you started releasing music as a solo artist?
M I just hoped that there would be people that want to listen to what I have to say.
SO You’re actually so much more than a musician. Your film ‘Expedition Happiness’ is now on Netflix and you even had a collection with Madekind. What drives you?
M I don’t know why, but ever since I was little I’ve had this curiosity in me that makes me want to do things that I haven’t done before. Learning something new by just doing it is the best! I don’t think it’s gonna stop soon either, because there is still so much to do! For example, in my upcoming music video for ‘Patience’ I’m full-on dancing and improvising.
SO Your first EP was titled ‘Wanderer’. How do you identify with the word?
M I wrote this record on the trip from Alaska to Mexico, that I made into the movie ‘Expedition Happiness’. I was on the road for 11 months so this album really embodies the (personal) journey I made and the beautiful landscapes that constantly surrounded me. Waking up somewhere else every day made me feel like a Wanderer – nowadays I love my little safe haven in Berlin.
SO What is the inspiration behind your forthcoming EP ‘Patience’?
M When I came home from the trip I didn’t want all that inspiration to stop. Instead I went into the studio to find introperspective, and let out what was already inside of me without thinking about it too much. ‘Patience’ is a collection of snapshots of who I was at the time I wrote the EP. Authentic but cryptic.
SO How have you grown from ‘Wanderer’ to ‘Patience’ now?
M I have learned to be on my own and to face my fears, but more importantly to allow myself to be vulnerable and sometimes weak. Instead of trying to always be resilient and strong, I am trying to embrace my flaws.
SO The ballad ‘Another life’ is incredibly heartbreaking. Could you tell us about the song? And was it inspired by someone?
M This song is inspired by something I’m sure many have felt before. It’s about the second you look at someone unattainable – someone you know or a stranger – and imagine how your life would look like if you were living it together. It’s quite innocent really in that it’s saying “this will never happen” – but if you watch the music video you might spot some hints that it did happen even though it shouldn’t have…
SO Your lyrics are pretty vulnerable. Do you ever feel too exposed?
M My biggest goal in everything I create is to be as vulnerable as possible. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. It’s real and it creates empathy – our world needs more of that. I feel more exposed when something I put out is not 100 percent me because insecurity creates fear of judgement. My upcoming music video for ‘Patience’ is so raw that it was too disturbing for some people that already watched it, but that doesn’t matter because it is so important to me – I put myself and my love into every second of it. I actually see it as a compliment, because the emotions I was trying to bring across are disturbing – pain, hurt, desire, love, anger.
SO You’re about to go on tour, are you excited or nervous to play your new songs live?
M This tour is very special because it’s all about transition. I’m playing a lot of songs from my first record, ‘Wanderer’, for the last time, and then I’m also playing all the EP songs that will be released at the start of the tour and 5 songs that are not even produced yet, from my upcoming album. It’s so beautiful that I get to share my musical journey with thousands of people. No reason to be nervous – I can’t fucking wait!
SO How does it feel when you’re on stage?
M It’s one of the rare times in life where nothing else matters. For me and the audience. There’s not much that beats this feeling of connection.
SO Can you remember your first performance ever?
M I don’t remember the first time I was on stage because I sang in the Opera for years and did some musicals in the West End. I do remember my first concert as ‘Mogli’ though – it was at a Festival in the summer and half of the crowd was singing along because they knew my music! It was unreal and I still can’t grasp how lucky I am.
SO What are you most excited about now in terms of your future?
M After the big European Tour I’m playing a headline show in the USA for the whole month of May. As an Indie artist, how crazy is that? The thing that most excites me though is to share the album that I’m currently making with my fans. These songs, they mean the world to me are begging me to hurry up!
Mogli starts her ‘Mirrors’ tour on March 25th. Her EP ‘Patience’ is out now.
Interview SARAH OSEI