Rising Pop Star Mimi Webb Talks Tate McRae, “House On Fire,” and Performing for Jimmy Fallon
Mimi Webb’s rise in the UK has been far from discreet over the past year. In addition to performing on two sold-out nationwide headline tours, building herself an adoring fan base on TikTok, and taking over streaming playlists with breakthrough hits Good Without and Dumb Love, the Canterbury-born singer, became the second artist after Dua Lipa to have two top 15 singles within the same week before releasing an album.
Not bad going, huh?
Following in the footsteps of fellow Brits Adele and Sam Smith, Webb’s songs about relationships and heartache have resonated with a whole generation of listeners and earned the 21-year-old emerging star chart success in the UK, across Europe, and Australia in just a short span of time. After scoring herself a top 10 EP, Seven Shades of Heartbreak, in her home country late last year, Webb has dreams to branch out further and is currently making waves in the States by serving as the support act for Tate McRae. Webb made her late-night talk show debut during her visit to New York and secured herself a performance slot on Jimmy Fallon on March 30.
Webb’s latest offering, the catchy single House on Fire, became her highest-charting entry in the UK and has already started to make noise on Pop Radio in the US. While in the middle of her jam-packed schedule and a day before her Fallon appearance, Webb spoke to Contrast about being on the road with McRae, new music, and where she’s keeping her plaques.
Mimi, so good to speak to you again! How has life in America been treating you? Lovely to chat with you again! It’s been so amazing. I think just seeing so many different parts of America has been so great. Being on tour with Tate, she’s so lovely, so we’re having so much fun.
Does it feel like you’re starting over after building such a loyal fanbase back at home in the UK? Yeah, it feels like it’s building it from the ground upwards. I think this part of the journey is just the best because you really sink your teeth into it and it is always the part you’ll always remember, building up the memories.
What’s it been like touring alongside Tate? With both of you having separate, busy schedules, have you been able to hang out and connect with one another? Yeah, so yesterday, we ended up doing a bit of promo together, so we had the day to hang out. Because we’re all such similar ages, it’s been so easy to relate. We’re all so busy, but we manage to find the time for sure.
How does a support slot differ from a headlining set? Is it as if you have to work that bit harder to impress the crowd? Oh, 100%! There are things that you would normally do if it was your own set and your own crowd. Especially when the fans are learning the words, you’re trying to get them to become a fan. Because they don’t straight away know the words, it changes the energy a little bit, but so far, the shows have been so amazing. It’s crazy because a lot of people have known the lyrics. It’s quite cool to see how it all translates, especially because they’re Tate’s fans, and you’re growing into them being yours.
How important is cracking America for you? Has it always been one of your goals from the beginning? I’ve always envisioned doing this in America. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. For me, to come and translate my music to the States has been incredible and that’s always been my goal. I want globally for people to be able to hear my music and for it to connect to them.
Tomorrow, you are performing on Jimmy Fallon, which is huge! How are you feeling? I’m SO excited! I can’t believe we’re doing it. It’s so crazy. I’m so excited to see how it goes, and even being backstage in their building is going to be so surreal. It’s bang-on live, which is going to be scary, but there are also some excitement nerves. It’s going to be so great because I’ve got my guitarist with me now. He’s flown out to meet us here in New York. It’s going to be good. We’re going to have the band back together.
Your debut EP, Seven Shades of Heartbreak, came out last year and was a huge chart success. What’s been the biggest pinch-me moment from that period? I think for me, it was to see how things can translate from social media in a pandemic to then working outside of, say, TikTok, for example, to see that it works outside in the charts and it streams well. It’s crazy to see how that translated. I think that was the craziest part for me when I started to see how that worked.
Have you received any of your plaques yet for your singles, and where are you keeping them? I’ve got my gold plaque for Good Without, which has since gone platinum, so I’ll be getting that one very soon. Dumb Love went silver; it could be gold now. I’ve got a few more coming; they just take ages to arrive. I’ve got them all out in my lounge in my flat, which is so nice. Once I get more of them, I’m going to start pinning them around.
Your latest single, House On Fire, is doing big things! How did that song come about? Is it one you’ve purposely been saving because you knew it was special, or is it quite fresh? It was something I had been saving, but from about October time, that’s when it started to really get going. I just really wanted to start a song with a big bang, and for me, I wanted to start the year with a song like that, something sassy, a little bit more tongue-in-cheek, a character a bit crazy. It’s been so so cool to see how it’s done its thing and how people have reacted, from releasing emotional songs to releasing a more fun track like House On Fire.
It felt like the song was a hit before it was even released because so many people were sharing their own videos on TikTok of them singing the clip you had teased. Had that ever happened to any of your singles previously? Good Without was very much like that. We teased it a lot on TikTok, so it was really cool to see how it grew virally. To then see the reaction on the first day it came out was crazy. I hadn’t had a song that strong since House On Fire. House On Fire actually overtook Good Without and has even charted higher. Those two songs are my big viral moments before it was released.
After introducing yourself with your debut EP, would you say you’re now in your debut album era? Yeah, we’re definitely in an album-era mode. It takes some time to get it all together, so we’re still in the process now but definitely releasing more music; singles are coming to keep it going and songs that I really want out. But, definitely an album down the line for sure.
How is the album sounding? Is it more upbeat songs like House On Fire, or will it stay true to the ballads you’re known for? Or will there be some unexpected moments? I think there is going to be a big mix. There’s a song I can think of that is quite different to all of them, but I definitely think there will be a mix between the two. With my EP, there were songs like Heavenly to then Lonely In Love, which are both completely different, but they sound all in the same bracket. I’m excited to get that middle ground for the album. Since we’re still working on it, I will be telling everyone when it’s due when I’m nearly finished.
The last time we spoke, you were very open about not wanting to do any collaborations for the time being, as you were comfortable establishing your sound on your own. Can fans expect your first collab this year, or are you still in that headspace? I think I am still in that headspace. I think the idea is a lot more relaxed now for this year. It will be interesting to see also album-wise where I wanna go feature-wise for that. I guess it’ll be one of those things where we take it month by month, but I’m in no rush.
You just announced you will be going to Australia and New Zealand later this year for your first tour down under. Have you ever been there before? I’ve never been to either before; I’m so excited just to go there and experience it. Just to meet all those incredible fans out there and get those shows done is going to be amazing.
And lastly, what’s been the biggest change in your life over the past year? I remember the first time someone came up to me and asked for a photo, I would not stop speaking about it. All day long, I would be telling my friends, ‘someone asked me for a photo!’ so just to look back to then to now, where I meet people all the time when I’m out and about, is such an honor. I’ve been in that position before where I’ve seen someone I love, and I’ve gone and taken a picture with them, so it’s really cool to be on the receiving end and see how that works. I’m so excited every time.