After Conquering the U.K., Mimi Webb Is Ready to Go World Wide
"I took things into my own hands and went out there and just did it."
In February, Mimi Webb brought her mother to the 2023 Brit Awards, where she was nominated for best new artist. She lost to Wet Leg, but days later, Webb was still beaming over meeting Harry Styles at the ceremony instead of being fazed by the defeat — as she saw it, she had too much more to look forward to.
On March 3, the charismatic rising pop star released her debut album, Amelia, which includes pop radio hits like “House on Fire” and “Red Flags.” The 12-track project, which juxtaposes power-pop songs with catchy confessionals, is the culmination of a yearslong plan that prioritized career development and patience — and rewarded Webb’s drive.
“I always loved being center stage,” the 22-year-old born Amelia Webb recalls of growing up in Canterbury, England. She started music lessons when she was 12 and became active in her school’s band nights. “That’s where I was able to grow more as a musician and find that love for it. That’s when I decided, ‘Right. I’m going to go for it.’ [There was] no backup plan.”
By 16, Webb moved out to attend Brighton Music College. She didn’t stay long: That same year, she scored a manager in music and tech entrepreneur Rob Ronaldson, who was quick to set up studio time and label meetings in Los Angeles. “I just didn’t have time to do college. I had to drop out,” says Webb, speaking quickly as if to match the pace of her ascent. “I learned so much to the point where I took things into my own hands and went out there and just did it.”
From the start, Ronaldson foresaw Webb’s cross-continental appeal and aimed for a record deal abroad rather than signing in the United Kingdom. The approach aligned with Webb’s own goal: “Break worldwide.”
In 2019, she signed a deal with Epic Records, forming an immediate bond with Ezekiel “Zeke” Lewis, the label’s executive vp of A&R. And in 2020, Best Friends Music’s Brandon Goodman signed on as Webb’s stateside co-manager. Still, she continued to grow her domestic fan base, landing a U.K. hit every year since breaking first on TikTok with the impassioned “Before I Go,” a song Charli D’Amelio used to soundtrack a video on the app. (D’Amelio soon after helped Webb create her own account.)
And in 2021, “Good Without,” from Webb’s debut EP, Seven Shades of Heartbreak, crossed the pond and became her first entry on Billboard’s Pop Airplay chart, followed by “House on Fire” in 2022. She started 2023 completing a hat trick, as the rousing “Red Flags” became her third entry on the list, peaking at No. 29. The success was steady, but to Webb, who was writing incessantly and building her following on social media, it was a whirlwind. “When I look back, I had no clue what I wanted to really do as an artist — till now.”
On Amelia, Webb introduces the world to her two selves: the chill homebody Amelia and the pop powerhouse Mimi. “With this album, I really wanted to get the mixture of both [my] worlds — get those ballads in, but also get the uptempo, fun songs in there as well,” she says.
Webb officially started working on Amelia last April, finishing the bulk of it in under six months, she estimates. “I had a lot of songs in the bag,” she says, noting that she wrote the wishful “See You Soon” four years ago, while she co-wrote newer songs like “Red Flags,” “Roles Reversed” and “Last Train to London” in one week with Connor and Riley McDonough (who last year scored a Billboard Hot 100 top 10 with Joji’s “Glimpse of Us”).
And even though Webb is embracing her offstage persona, she’s grateful for her foresight in creating a moniker, comparing it to a wall. “I think it was a way of protecting [myself],” she says, “and also feeling that confidence to go onstage and not worry about what’s going to happen.”
She admires peers like Tate McRae, whom she opened for on tour, and praises the dominant onstage presence of Dua Lipa, an artist she has “completely fallen in love with” — and one with whom she shares a milestone. “Red Flags” made Webb the first British female artist since Lipa (who was also a U.K. star before crossing over to the United States) to chart two singles in the top 15 of the U.K. Official Singles Chart before releasing a debut album. “I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from how she has done the steps and built from scratch, doing the small shows to the big arenas,” Webb says.
That slow climb is exactly how Webb and her team have arrived at this moment: a hit single leading into a debut album leading into a U.K. and European headlining tour. What will follow, the artist hopes, is U.S. stardom.
“For the last two-and-a-half years, we have been focused on the recording and artist-development process,” Epic chairwoman/CEO Sylvia Rhone says. “By releasing music and content consistently, coupled with touring, it has allowed her to mature as an artist and build a loyal and global audience.”
“I’m definitely excited for people to get to know Amelia and to tell the story of growing up and how intense everything feels,” says Webb. “I just want people to really get to know me more as an artist — and as a person.”
This story originally appeared in the March 11, 2023, issue of Billboard.