Interview by Alli Lindsey
header image by Theo Batterham
To the common ear, there are few similarities between the Nashville and Essex music scenes. How can the UK county that built Depeche Mode parallel the American music mecca that fashioned Elvis Presley? English songstress Mabes might just be the conduit that bridges the gap between the two unsuspecting regions. One part pop, two parts folk, and more than a dash of Western twang, Mabes is an intricate tapestry draped in unlikely inspiration. Her outre luxe disposition is materialized by the way of her darling vocal instrument and a cherished relationship with her guitar. A reimagining of Nashville’s golden era, Mabes’ acoustic-led catalog is edgy and familiar to boot. At the heels of her recent single “Fairground,” a candid meditation on the taxing trials and tribulations of heartache, Mabes shows C-Heads a succinct and sincere reflection of her reality.
What is the hardest criticism you have had to hear, and how did it affect your creative processes?
There’s a lot of trolls on the internet, they can say some cutting things. At first, it was tough to hear, but now it lights the fire in my belly to achieve success.
As someone with a deep appreciation for the culture and history of Nashville’s music scene, what was it like performing there for the first time?
It was incredible – the whole trip was a dream. The energy in the air is so different from any place I’ve ever been. Music is their first language, I felt so at home.
When it comes to your artistry, what are some cliches that you’re not afraid to embrace?
Being a girl with a guitar singing country songs about her feelings can be quite cliche, but hell! I’ve got a lot to say.
“Being a girl with a guitar singing country songs about her feelings can be quite cliche, but hell! I’ve got a lot to say.”
Your music has a strong feminine edge to it, what is the most special thing about being a woman?
Being the reason that the human race exists is a pretty big one.
Describe the relationship you have with your guitar.
My 5th limb.
Your western-inspired style is to die for. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your dream cowgirl outfit look like?
Diamond encrusted purple cow print.
Unfortunately, artists have to keep up appearances to a certain degree. How do you find a balance between creating a “brand image” and staying true to yourself?
I don’t. It’s actually something I struggle most with. Being musically creative with lyrical depth is worlds apart from marketing and selling yourself.
Give us one of your most unpopular music opinions.
Chart music is pony.
“Fairground” is about heartbreak. How do you keep yourself strong enough to write and create after losing someone that you love?
I think that any form of pain makes you stronger and more resilient. It’s a catalyst for growth.
If you give the person you were 10 years ago advice, what would it be?
Don’t worry about what other people think about you.