Mahalia on PUMA Suede XLs, Brit Awards & girlhood

Mahalia on PUMA Suede XLs, Brit Awards & girlhood

by Ollie Cox
6 min

Mahalia is the Leicester-born, London-based singer-songwriter who lives life on her own terms, telling tales of shitty exes, spending too much time on technology, and navigating the uncertainty of love with a captivating allure that has seen her achieve over 900 million streams on Spotify, and perform to packed out crowds. Despite the very 21st Century relevance of the star’s lyrics, she is able to communicate emotions and struggle with such strength, with a timeless sound, sitting between soul and R&B.

2024 is looking good for Mahalia, kicking things off with two Brit Awards nominations for Best New Artist and R&B Act of the Year. Despite these serious accolades, the singer ensures she remains relatable to her fans, sharing memes on social media, where we see her make light of everyday struggles, such as taking out the bins. This relatability has struck a chord with her listeners, who find solace and enjoyment in the shared sense of vulnerability exchanged through her music. 

On top of all of this, Midlands-born Mahalia is now the face of the PUMA’s latest campaign for the PUMA Suede XL, a classic silhouette rooted in hip-hop culture. The musician is PUMA’s latest brand ambassador, which makes sense considering she has always been drawn to sneakers and streetwear. Ahead of the news, we caught up with Mahalia to talk terms and conditions, technology, and trainers. 

PUMA ©

Hey Mahalia, how’s life?

Hey! Life is really great at the minute. I didn’t get any January blues this time around, so I’m feeling pretty good. 

One thing that comes across in your work and in previous interviews is a sense of self-drive and determination. It never felt like there was a barrier to you getting to where you knew you were supposed to be. Where did this drive come from?

My parents! They were and still are my biggest supporters. I only realised when I got older what a privilege it is to have two parents who shower you with that much love, attention and support. I couldn’t have had this much confidence in myself without them. 

You run Mahalia Presents, bringing up-and-coming artists together into one space. What is one piece of advice you would give to all up-and-coming artists?

Just don’t be afraid to get yourself out there. It’s never going to be the ‘right time’ to do anything. So just do it!! 

Where did the idea of Mahalia Presents come from?

I used to put them on in Leicester when I was about 16. That was all about bringing artists from out of the city into ours. I always wanted to start it up again, but I didn’t know how and realised it was time to jump back in! It’s still one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’m so proud of it. 

One of your songs is called “Do Not Disturb.” How do you switch off from technology? Is this important to you?

I’m a big TV [and] film girl. I love putting my phone away and getting lost in a great show or movie. My favourite alone time has to be a great pamper moment, though! A long bath after a hefty day always does me good.

You have a large female audience. What does girlhood mean to you?

Girlhood to me is all about community and connection. I think it’s human nature to want to relate and connect to others, and when I’m on stage talking to a room full of mostly girls, I think that’s why I talk so much. I’m just so excited to talk all my shit to a bunch of people who GET me!

In your song “Terms and Conditions,” you talk about crossing a line and implementing a three-strike rule. What are some terms and conditions that you live your life by?

Clean up after yourself and don’t call me on a Sunday!  

You have been nominated for two Brit Awards this year. That’s got to feel pretty amazing. Can you describe how it feels?

Gosh, I don’t know if I fully can yet! I am just so happy. It’s a really special thing to be recognised for all the years of work. I really have been pushing for 10+ years, and I feel it heavily sometimes. It’s a lovely feeling, and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

If you could go back to square one, would you do anything differently?

Absolutely not! I think having regrets is a waste of time and energy. Life is supposed to be lived. Mistakes are supposed to be made. It’s all about what makes a person who they are, and I certainly wouldn’t be the woman I am without them.  

How does it feel to be working with PUMA? Is fashion, specifically, footwear, something that has always been important to you?

I love working with PUMA. I have loved the brand ever since I was a kid, and it was a dream to be asked to work with them. Footwear has always been important to me! I have a huge trainer/shoe collection and so doing this campaign has been amazing. Footwear really finishes an outfit off – it can definitely make or break the look so I take it very seriously! 

The PUMA Suede XL is back. What is your favourite way to style the shoe?

I’m all about comfort in my style. They look perfect paired with a baggy jean or a cargo pant and a baby tee with a silly slogan. Sometimes I like to dress down an outfit slightly with them too. I love a midi satin skirt in the summer with a simple ribbed vest and they look stunning with a short sock!  

You’re from Leicester. How does being from the city inform the music you make or your creative process in general?

Leicester is such a diverse city, and I grew up seeing everybody from all different cultures and backgrounds. I think that meant that I also loved music from everywhere and everyone. There’s never been any boundaries in my daily life, and I think that’s reflected in my music taste and the music I make. 

What is the first thing you do when you’re back in Leicester?

I go straight to Bobbies on Melton Road and get samosas. They are my favourite thing in the world. So delicious and so cheap! A real hidden gem in my favourite city. 

You said in your song “Plastic Plans,” “I’ve got something inside me that I want to confess.” Mahalia, is there anything you want to confess to Culted?

Ha! I don’t right now. Ask me when I’m 30. 

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