Lil Mariko’s fame was an accident. As is the case with many of our generation’s favourite artists, it all started with a viral video uploaded as a joke. Lil Mariko had been dating Jared Soule (aka Full Tac) and out of boredom the two cooked up Where’s my Juul?? which violently confronts the ostensible thief of Mariko’s Juul.
The humour, angry address and metal sound of the original track have all remained a constant in Lil Mariko’s output since, but her production, writing and vocal range have since grown immensely through a series of collaborations and single tracks. It is only natural that artists like Dorian Electra and Rico Nasty quickly collaborated with Lil Mariko. Both have found a niche for themselves at the crossroads of different genres and have charted the course of hyperpop’s meteoric reign. In her work with both artists, Lil Mariko has shown her impressive range as an emerging talent. Mariko likes to toe the line of irony and sincerity in a similar manner as both artists, taunting her fans, calling them simps and asking them to worship her. Mariko often goes from sugar-sweet hooks to completely screamed tirades. The rage is not just an aesthetic decision. She plays with domination in many of her tracks like Don’t Touch, “I stomped on his balls. That boy’s crying now”. Like Electra, performed characters are at the heart of much of her work. Her dominatrix persona confronts the simps, incels and obsessive fanboys of the world in a humorous manner, but from this performance, the artist has found traits she hopes to cultivate in her personal life.

Lil Mariko has never taken herself too seriously. Some of her songs like Catboys are absolutely hilarious (the first line is: “This bitch love catboys (Meow, meow, meow)”). Yet, they always remain catchy and have a thread of earnestness within them. To a question of the irony of her work, Lil Mariko responded that explaining too much away can make it “kind of cringe lol”. Her track Boring was the debut release of the newly formed Four Loko Records (backed by the brand behind the beverage just as vomit inducing as Lil Mariko’s music). Lil Mariko is only on the rise so be on the lookout for some new singles and an EP!
Lil Mariko, could you tell us a bit about yourself? What is the story of your name?
Before making music I was pursuing a career in illustration, I never envisioned myself making music as my career. During the time in which Jared and I made Where’s my Juul??, we made it as a joke, and I didn’t see myself making anything else besides this one song. As a result, I didn’t put much thought into my stage name and just used my actual middle name.
Your breakout hit, Where’s my Juul??, toed the line between irony and experimenting with an exciting new style. Within a lot of hyperpop, this line between irony and sincerity can be a bit fuzzy. Does it matter to you to define what is ironic and what is serious in your work?
No, it really doesn’t matter to me to define what is ironic and serious within my own work. I find that when you have to spell out your intentions to the audience it’s no longer funny. It diminishes the potential discourse to be had about the work, it can become kind of cringe lol.
Can you speak a bit about your time at Pratt? What did you study? Are there art forms other than music you want to work within?
For the most part, I enjoyed my time at Pratt. I studied Communication Design with a focus in Illustration. In my free time I’m still drawing and painting. I’d like to get back into ceramics if I had the opportunity. I’ve been bedazzling a lot of things as well. I've found it kind of comforting to do something really repetitive that doesn’t require much thought. In the future I might put up some of my bedazzled work for sale.
You have such an incredible ability to bring life to the characters of your songs and videos. How did you come to your public personas?
In some ways I feel like my public persona is just a more extreme version of myself. There are also some traits in the character that I wish I had more in my personal life, like being really confident or unapologetically outspoken. It was important to me to keep my public persona not terribly far from reality.
I am curious about your screamo style vocals. You spoke in an interview about hoping to piss-off more rigid screamo fans, have you found this to be the case? Or have heavy metal fans been pretty receptive?
Yes and no, regardless of technical skill or talent some people will always be hyper critical towards women in metal or really any woman in music. Regardless of that, I’ve still taken the time to learn how to scream without hurting myself, but I’ve grown to accept that no matter how technically proficient I might become I’ll still piss some people off.
Who has been influential for your style of meme, funny, hardcore, rage inspired work?
RXKNephew has heavily influenced the new music I’m working on.
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You have allied yourself to queer communities throughout your career and have become popular in many queer communities. Could you speak a bit about this experience, and what it means for you to occupy this role?
I’m very grateful to the queer community for providing a space in which I can feel safe and accepted, I try to do the same through my music.
From Instagram to Only Fans, you have maintained a lot of ways for people to follow your work. I am curious to hear about how your fan engagement differs between platforms. How do you approach these differing platforms? Is there a distinct identity you present across all your socials?
Most of the time I don’t feel like I have anything of value to be posting so I’m not super active on social media. I don’t think the way I engage with fans or present myself is particularly different on various platforms, I just see them as different ways to express myself. I finally made my own YouTube channel, all of the new music videos will be uploaded there from now on, check it out if you want.
Your fashion style is so fluid, but distinctive, soft, punk and high fashion at the same time? Are there any designers or stylists whose work has been influential to you?
I consume way too much content. It's hard to pinpoint any specific designer or stylist that I draw influence from. If I had to pick one, maybe Ai Yazawa?
How was your first headline tour in EU and UK? What is the experience like taking music steeped in digital culture to a live audience?
We had a drummer perform with me on this tour and I feel like it added so much to the experience. It was very cool to see the audiences recite the lyrics back to me. I’m really grateful to everyone who showed up, we sold out a bunch of the shows!
What is next for Lil Mariko?
I’m working on another EP, there might be some singles coming soon. In the meantime, I’m still just being a degenerate.
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