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Mae Stephens says music was a coping mechanism that saved her life

Mae Stephens (PA)
Mae Stephens (PA)

British singer Mae Stephens has said that making music “saved” her life and was used as a “coping mechanism” before she achieved her first big successes.

The musician claimed she was going to try one last time to go viral before she uploaded a video to TikTok teasing a song called If We Ever Broke Up, which now has over 12 million views on the social media platform.

Stephens, who will be performing at London festival British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park at the weekend, said she started to write music at the age of 12 as a way to deal with the stresses of bullying.

Speaking to the PA news agency, she said: “I started song writing as a coping mechanism.

“I got heavily bullied at school and it became very much a coping mechanism and it saved my life and I worked on it for years.

“I did every gig imaginable, the terrible ones, the ones where no one’s listening. We realised stepping onto TikTok was the way to move forward.

“I tried every type of content possible… we tried following trends and it is quite difficult to do that.

“The video I posted for If We Ever Broke Up… was the last video I was going to post. That was on New Year’s Eve.

“I said, right, if this doesn’t work, I’ve got an entire new year to find a way to support myself financially, go get another job, find a house, move out and just continue on as an adult and and then I woke up to seven million (views) after a lot of drinking and I tested the algorithm again, it worked.

“The next minute I know I’m signing a record deal.

“I’m now performing here, and it’s all gone very fast but I wouldn’t change it at all, it was that sign that you shouldn’t quit, because I wouldn’t be here.

“I put that last video out and it just happened to be the one that sent me to where I am now.”

Stephens added: “As well as that, I was the weird kid, I was the kid that got bullied for their size, height, face, anything you could physically think of.

“I know there are a lot of other kids that have gone through that as well and for me, it’s nice to be able to have that platform to go I was this kid.

“I was the kid that was taken for granted in every friend group… now I’m sat here and I’m trying to prove to other people that if you work hard and you want something enough, you really try for it, you can achieve it and I’m about to play at Hyde Park with two of the most iconic sets of ladies, it’s mad.”

The musician is a supporting act for American singer P!nk, who is performing on Saturday at the festival, and she is also appearing when K pop stars Blackpink headline on Sunday, July 2.

Talking about performing on the main stage, she said: “Now actually seeing the stage, that’s going to be a very interesting learning curve to kind of try and walk around and fill that stage.”

British Summer Time festival – London
Elton John performs during the British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park in London in 2022 (Suzan Moore/PA)

Other headliners at BST Hyde Park festival this year include Billy Joel, Guns N’ Roses, Lana Del Rey and Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band.

James King, chief executive officer at European Festivals AEG Presents, thinks that the festival line up is “bigger” and better than it was last year.

In 2022, headliners Adele, Pearl Jam, Sir Elton John and The Rolling Stones took to the stage.

Mr King said: “The line up this year is going to beat it (last year), we’re going to have 550,000 people buying tickets to come to a music event, probably 700,000 people come through the doors.

“It has grown again, I don’t think we can get any bigger than that, because we’re at capacity – unless they increase the size that we can use in the park, but its reputation is growing.

“We want fans to continue to come here feeling that they’re at a great show, and a great experience.”