Ella Mai stopped by the Billboard offices in New York City to help reveal some of the 2019 American Music Awards nominations via live stream on Thursday (Oct. 24). What the “Boo’d Up” singer didn’t know, however, was that she was going to receive four nominations herself.
Indeed, Mai is up for new artist of the year, favorite female artist — soul/R&B, favorite album — soul/R&B, and favorite song — soul/R&B. “It feels really good to be recognized,” Mai says. “I always say as artists, we don’t do it for the recognition or for the awards, but it always feels good to receive it.”
The announcement caps off a major year for the English singer-songwriter, who began 2019 by winning best R&B song for “Boo’d Up” at the Grammy Awards, which she admits today was “really cool.” (Mai also released her self-titled, debut album in October of last year.)
Below, Mai chats with Billboard about the AMAs, her whirlwind year and what’s in store as 2020 approaches.
What do these AMAs nominations mean to you?
I think the AMAs are special to me because they were the first award nominations I ever received. Last year I was nominated for two awards, so to come back and now be nominated for four is really amazing to me. And also I’m not even American — I’m not from here — so to be recognized from a place that I’m not even from even though my music is very well-received over here, it’s again a really great feeling. You can’t really ask for anything more.
Looking back at your past year or so, what is your proudest accomplishment?
There’s been loads, but I’ve been on a world tour this year. I’ve been on tour since January, and I think just being able to see where all the different places in the world where music has taken me, and go into all these different places and have people sing my song, even if English isn’t their first language. I think that’s been really special to me.
[And Saturday Night Live]. That feels like so long ago. It’s crazy, because it really was not even a year ago. It was November, so coming up to a year!
What places would you still love to visit?
I’m about to go to Asia, which was one place [I’d love to visit]. I’ve really wanted to go to Japan. I’m going to Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, and Manila in the Philippines. So I’m really excited for that. And I’ve also always wanted to go to Australia and I’m going there for New Year’s to perform. So, there’s a couple ones I’m ticking off the bucket list.
Around this time last year, you also shared a Billboard cover with Post Malone and Dua Lipa. Do you have any fun memories of that?
That day was actually really fun. Just being able to be on a cover for one, and a Billboard cover, I think was really huge for me. And to be able to share it with Dua, who’s also English, and then to be with someone like Post, who’s such a household name. Just to receive their energy, too, because it was actually really fun. The pictures where we were like carrying him…it was just good vibes all day and everyone was excited.
We had some really good conversations about music, and at the time I think we were all the same age. So, to look at the different genres that we all represent and are in and kind of bring it together and just be on a Billboard magazine cover was amazing.
Can you tease any new music?
Well, I’ve been on tour literally the whole year, so I haven’t haven’t had as much time to be in the studio, but I’m almost done. So, I’ll be back in the studio. And yeah, you never know.
dick clark productions, producer of the American Music Awards, is owned by Valence Media, which also owns Billboard.