METTE, aka Mette Towley, is having a great day. She’s visiting London for the week from Los Angeles, has just wrapped up a pilates class and spent the morning listening to music on the terrace, matcha latte in hand. “I’m also going to Paris this weekend, which I’m really excited about, and I just got confirmation that my next single is a‑go,” she says excitedly over Zoom, sitting on a doorstep in the West End.
But that’s not all Towley’s got to be happy about. Her most recent single, the feel-good Mama’s Eyes, has properly cemented her career pivot from professional dancer to full-time, bonafide musician. The song, a medley of breakbeats and gospel-influenced pop, is all about missing her mum over the pandemic, with relatable lyrics of her yearning for a dance again.
“Mama’s Eyes was the result of [feeling] complete emptiness during Covid and trying to fill that hole with anything that reminded me of home,” she says. Born in Minnesota, Towley started out as “a mover, dancer and performer”, as she puts it. “There’s an old video of me where I’m holding a microphone, singing Sade. My mum and aunt used to take me to the ballet, to museums… I was lucky to grow up with folks who showed me all kinds of things.” Towley then tried her hand at playing various instruments, but dance, which she’s practised since the age of four, was always in the background.
Aged 16, though, it was settled. At a concert, she was transfixed by the backing dancers on stage – and that pretty much made her mind up. “It changed my life,” Towley says. “I’ve never seen women look so embodied, from the costumes to the lights, the choreography to their physicality. I was super inspired.”
And so she applied to dance school, moved to LA and started working as a pro dancer. “Then I got an audition with Pharrell. I danced with him for five years.” And she appeared in the music video for N.E.R.D and Rihanna’s song Lemon, no less.
Slowly but surely, music started creeping into Towley’s life in a different way; she began shadowing artists in the studio and started writing poetry. “I started to network and everything aligned. I’m pretty much living my dream.”
With an as-yet-unnamed follow-up single in the works, for now, Towley’s just grateful her music is out in the world. “I want to celebrate the human experience and make beauty out of it. I want to make people feel inspired, empowered, glorious. I hope I can mirror all of that.”
10% What emotions and experiences influence your work?
I think coming of age is a huge part of the work that I do – doing work with my inner-child and the freedom I want her to experience in life, but also the parts of me that want to have discipline. There are also feelings of longing and fantasy in my work.
20% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
Oh, lemon meringue pie from Erin Jeanne McDowell’s book, easy! I have friends who I’ve made this for and they love it. My family loves it, too. It would be nice to make it for a special someone someday.
30% What is a bad habit that you wish you could kick?
I drink a lot of caffeine. I’m drinking three to four matchas a day right now – that’s wild, right? Then I’m up at 1am scrolling TikTok, asking myself why I can’t sleep. Also I need to start making my bed every morning. Lately I’ve been running late and when I come back the room isn’t looking cute.
40% What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
You have nothing to prove, only to share.
50% If you ruled the world for a day, what would go down?
Weird dancing. I want all my favourite DJs to play and everyone up on a stage. I want them playing from rooftops and parties on the street, honey! And I want folks to have conversations with a neighbour they haven’t spoken to before.
60% What is your number one holiday destination?
I’m really into Mallorca, but also I love the South of France. Any Mediterranean vacation is a vibe.
70% What’s the most memorable DM you’ve received from a fan?
There’s a gentleman who’s been DMing me about his mother who I think is unwell. He sent me a video where he played the Mama’s Eyes video to her and she’s smiling. When people share anything with me, even if it’s just a video of them working out or dancing to the song, I love it so much.
80% Love, like, hate?
I love lip balm. My lip balm recommendation is Tatcha’s lip mask. I like moving meditation. I hate haters. I should say that I love them to combat that negative energy, but I hate rudeness for no reason.
90% If you could travel back in time to watch an iconic music act perform, who would it be?
Oh my God, I would love to see Josephine Baker perform. I also have to say that I’d love to see Diana Ross. And Prince!
100% Describe your upcoming EP in three words…
Bio-dynamic, rhythmic, soul food [technically four words, METTE, but we’ll let you off – Ed].