As a producer, songwriter, and performer, 23-year old Phoenix – who’s causing a deafening buzz across Europe for her explosive festival performances – has never been afraid to blaze her own trail.  Her genre-mashing three EPs and one-off singles to date have drawn unexpected links between pop, hip-hop, and electronic sounds, and listening to them in sequence can feel like a thrilling plunge into a selection box of assorted musical treats.

Marlene Nader aka Mavi Phoenix was raised by her mother in Linz, a picturesque yet conservative city on the Danube in northern Austria. “We were a very strong team,” she says today. “In our house, music was definitely something that was sacred.” From a young age, Phoenix’s taste spanned decades and genres, and she devoured her mum’s Cyndi Lauper and Madonna albums, as well as the David Bowie, Queens of the Stone Age, N*E*R*D and Justice records that her dad played her when she’d visit his home in Vienna.

As an LGBTQ kid growing up in a “conservative” country, Phoenix dreamed of escaping into a glittery world where she could be free. “I always knew that I was gay,” she says.

But when you grow up being gay, you don’t really wanna know. At first, you try to hide, and you get so detached from yourself. You just don’t fit. It’s a fight that you have with yourself at a very young age, and I think that’s what really defined me.

That instinct is evident in her music today, which can soundtrack introspective soul-searching as much as all-night raves.

Now, with her sexuality no longer a secret, Phoenix is bringing that confidence fully into her music. Her latest EP, Young Prophet II, further proves her versatility, as it leapfrogs from musical styles with timely and resonant messages that couldn’t be further from the stereotype of apathetic millennial malaise. “The new generation is in their prime,” she confidently sings over the jazzy beat of ‘Prime’. “We gotta take over quicktime.” Her sense of liberation is also palpable on EP highlight ‘Trends’, which sounds like a song Crystal Castles would make on a balmy Balearic vacation. “It’s an empowering scream for freedom,” she explains. “It’s a bit about the business because I sing “I ain’t even gotta belong / I ain’t gotta put out a song” — like, I can only do music for myself.”

SEM shot on 35mm by Andreas B. Krueger with the words by Ivica Mamedy

Special thanks to Galerie Alain Gutharc – Suzanne Husky, Khloris, Clorox exhibition until January 19th.