Mogli in Interview (and in Bed) with Numero Berlin and Tommy Hilfiger
Instead of a job title, I would like to introduce Mogli as a creative force. Sure, you may know her as a musician. Or maybe you are familiar with her work as a film director. Or perhaps you have seen her as an actress, model, fashion designer? Ever since the first release of her album Wanderer and her documentary Expedition Happiness (which is available on Netflix), since 2017 the German artist has come a long way. Her latest intimate album Ravage and its namesake movie is set to be released this year. Most recently, she caught our attention in her appearance in Tommy Hilfiger’s Moving Forward Together campaign. We got to shoot the 27-year old in a cozy hotel room in Berlin. We cuddled up in bed and had a good talk about how she grounds herself while juggling all of her talents, the value of a conscious life, and the importance of being brave. A cool girl doing a multitude of remarkable things. We started to fall in love with her. We asked if we could stay another night. She said she would give us a call.
You are a singer, an actress, a film director, designer and model and somehow, you live up to all of your talents simultaneously by working on countless different projects. That’s impressive! But having so many talents must come with a significant workload and – at least every now and then – a good level of stress. How do you manage to keep your creative energy flowing? What grounds you and inspires you?
It has been a process! Because everything I do comes out of passion, it has been difficult for me to stop myself from overworking. I constantly push myself because I love all the things I do. A big part of learning how to ground myself was understanding that everything works in stages. When it comes to creativity I often think of myself as a sponge: There is a stage in which I have to soak up all my experiences until there comes the point when I feel I have something to say to the world. Then I squeeze out that sponge and pour out my ideas on different levels and channels. It was important for me to understand that I don’t have to constantly create. Right now I am at this stage where I just squeezed out everything and said everything I wanted to say. I don’t expect myself to come up with another movie, album or collection right away. Right now I have to simply live and soak it all in again, and that doesn’t work under pressure. You can’t force it, it needs to happen naturally.
Same goes for my energy. Grounding myself means handling my energy resourcefully. On one hand this means being able to really work through the 13 hour days for 18 days in a row, but on the other hand it means to give yourself two weeks of a break afterwards to rewind and reset. I needed to learn that I need both of these extremes. At the beginning it was hard for me to actually get myself to rest. But now I am very much looking forward to these down times.
In interviews you keep saying that between all of your skills, music remains your greatest passion. How would you describe your sound?
Music has been my greatest passion because it is the most intuitive to me. Everything else came into my life much later. I sang before I could talk. It is the closest to my heart, and I always try to put everything I feel into it. You could say it is my energy and my emotions that I pour into my voice and make it into music. That’s also why I can not categorize my music, because it is constantly changing. The new album is very different to my last one. The only thing remaining is my intention to put an authentic piece of myself into my sound.
Tell me more about your new album RAVAGE. You sing about Burn-Out, depression, female empowerment and toxic masculinity. You also sing about courage, vulnerability and self-love. How was working on this album and why are all of those topics particularly important to you?
All of those themes have been a part of my very own healing process. So they were very important to me personally. The writing was very intuitive, because I put my own experiences into the music. Only when I was done I realized that this is not only my personal journey, but a journey a lot of people are going through. Maybe even a journey everyone has to take on at one point or another in their lives. My message is to be brave and understand and accept your fears without having to act on them. Personally, I had to have the courage to make myself vulnerable and learn that I am far from indestructible. I wanted to share those experiences with the world because I believe that every person is reaching a point where they have to learn to be brave.
Do you have any role models in the music department?
Above all I am inspired by people that are trying to follow their intentions in radical ways, which also describes my own ambition. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with music, but can also be happening in art, architecture, etc. I draw my inspiration from a lot of different fields. But I don’t have any tangible role models in music. I am inspired by people being authentic and true to themselves no matter what they do.
Everything you do seems very authentic as well. As a kid you wore dread locks, at 11 years old you sang in the Frankfurter Oper, and today you still work freely and independently and put a lot of passion into everything you do. Has it always come naturally to you to simply be yourself in front of an audience? Or is there a process behind it?
I believe every child being born into this world is authentic to itself and has no problem at all showing its true colors to the world. Unfortunately most of the time this trade is being taken away by society over the years. I was lucky enough to have a mother that always let me think for myself and make my own decisions early on. She let me find out what it was that I liked and wanted to do. She showed me a lot of trust, making it easier for me to be able to trust in myself. That’s why I don’t feel as if I needed to learn how to be myself. I never unlearned it because I had that safety net at home. This is why it is important to me to share courage through my art, because I know it has been a great privilege that I have always had the support to be brave. Of course I also needed to relearn this trade over the years, because it can be very difficult to be a brave person. At the end of the day we all get scared. But I know it makes me very happy and it is important to me to inspire other people to be brave too.
You’ve been around: Frankfurt, London, Alaska, the Black Forest, Berlin…where and when have you been your happiest?
There are two places that touched me the most: The first one being Mexico! It simply makes me smile. Nothing to add to that. The other one is definitely Berlin. For once it is the city itself that sparks me, the energy that is flowing around. It feels like there is this cloud of creativity that inspires me and makes me truly content. It is where I found my family, it is also where I learned to be on my own, and it is where I learned to simply be happy. Berlin is where I built my own life.
What does Berlin mean to you as an artist? People say the city is still harnessing the fruits of its reputation for freedom and creativity when in reality, artists and the creative freaks are actually getting less and less. Do you agree with this?
I might be a little too young and I might not have lived here for long enough to answer this question properly. But all I can say is that I meet creative minds on a nearly daily basis and crazy people cross my way all the time. But I can imagine a lot of creatives can’t stay in Berlin for too long because there is too much going on and a creative mind isn’t able to handle it over a long time period. But all in all, a lot of art is still being created here!
In times of the pandemic one cannot avoid the question: How did you spent your quarantine? What have you been cooking, reading, what have you been listening to? Did the virus shape you and your thoughts in any way?
I haven’t read anything and I didn’t create or cook anything new (laughs). Instead, I rested intensely. I quickly noted that I had worked so much over the months before the first lockdown that I appreciated doing nothing for a good while. I didn’t ask of myself to fill my time. What I learned is to handle time differently, and get another feel for it. This is something that I hope to take with me into post-Corona times.
You are a fashion designer and are now seen in Tommy Hilfiger’s SS21 „Moving Forward Together“ campaign. How much of a role does fashion play in your life?
Fashion is very important to me, as it also is a form of expression. I see myself as an ambassador for multifaceted authenticity. You don’t have to find your core and say „okay that’s me now“ and it has to be that way forever. You can change and develop all the time, and show your creativity in different ways. In some cases, eccentricity can be a part of that. This is where fashion comes into play: to me it is a beautiful way of showing people that you can be someone else everyday. For me, every look in my wardrobe is a different little Mogli. It is like dressing up for adults, except you don’t feel dressed up. Every look embodies a different character of mine and I have a lot of fun playing around with my clothes.
The campaign is about building a better future together. What does a better future look like to you and how can we get there?
Personally, I try to explain to people through my platforms that we can all contribute to a better future by living a more conscious live. This doesn’t mean pointing fingers at each other. It simply means informing and educating yourself on what is going on in the world and how, for example, the fashion industry impacts the planet. We need to extend our consciousness and base our decisions on what we are aware of. Always ask yourself what consequences your decisions might have on you, other people, and nature. If everyone would do simply that, the world would be a better place because everyone would prioritize different subjects that are close to their hearts. This can be about climate change, war, anything…
What do you associate with Tommy Hilfiger? Why did you decide to become a part of the brand?
What I found interesting about Tommy Hilfiger is that I associate them with tradition. At the same time, the company is making huge efforts to take on new directions. The Moving Forward Together campaign is one example, but also when it comes to sustainability, they have been taking great steps. I get excited when there is a journey I can take part in. I always stand for personal development and this is why Tommy and I are a fit.
I barely dare to ask…but what projects are you planning on next?
I am now entering this phase where I finished all my projects and I am finally able to present them to the world. It’s a beautiful thing! Usually I get a little anxious giving all of these interviews, going on stage etc. But this time I am extremely proud of this project as a whole – both album and film – and I cannot wait to finally reveal my work to the world. On another note, a lot will be happing this year in my personal life, as I’m having a baby (smiles).
Many refer to you as an ambassador and you yourself said it too. What exactly is your message to the world?
Be brave and make yourself vulnerable!
To join Mogli in her conscious way of living check out her online course Sustainable Living & Loving on FutureLearn. Together with Tommy Hilfiger the platform offers a variety of courses including social topics such as sustainability, LGBTQIA+, body positivity and more thought by Jameela Jamil, Indya Moore, Kiddy Smile and others.
All Looks TOMMY HILFIGER
Photographer MARIUS KNIELING
Styling FABIO PACE
Hair & Makeup PATRICIA HECK at NINA KLEIN AGENCY
Photo Assistant CHARLOTTE HANSEL
Video NOÉ CASSI
Interview ANN-KATHRIN LIETZ