Vice Spotlight Mawuli
Photo by Lucca BP
VICE spotlight

VICE Spotlight: Mawuli

“Being my most authentic self is so rewarding. No matter what I'm going through, I can step on stage and be whoever I want to be.”
Adele Luamanuvae
Sydney, AU

The first time I watched Mawuli on stage was at Rocklily, inside Sydney’s Star casino. Her stage presence shifted from coy and shy to boisterous and free, and she kept her fluffy, pink purse firmly interlocked between the fingers of her right hand, while her left hand became a home for the microphone amplifying her sultry R&B slow jams. 

I was enamoured from the get go.

Simply put: Mawuli makes music for the girls. Her voice provides a buttery tone to the stories she shares, often talking about “cliches” like love and boys, wealth and desire, or chasing the finer things in life. Her delivery is tenacious, without being too loud, and her music is full of character. From the moment you hit play on a track, you immediately understand what Mawuli represents.


Mawuli Dokli, creatively known as Mawuli, grew up in the greater-west Sydney suburb of Woodcroft. Her exposure to gospel music, through church and the Ghanaian genres of hiplife and highlife, led her down the winding and fulfilling path of creative expression.

“As a child, I would always be the friend that would make my friends do little dance performances at family barbecues,” she told VICE. “So doing this is a dream that I’ve been trying to make a reality for a long time.”

Mawuli’s musical palate started to develop further as she got older, exposed to the wide range of music from her youth that eventually encouraged her own musical experimentation.

Artists like Janet Jackson, Destiny’s Child and Craig David are expected musical influences when you dive into the intricacies of Mawuli’s music. But it’s striking and vocally dominant bands, like Evanescence and Fall Out Boy, that make Mawuli’s musical references distinctive.

Determined to forge her own path, Mawuli's music ventures began in 2017. Faced with a self-inflicted pressure to succeed, her musical journey was halted as a necessary means to truly find herself as an artist.

“I was trying to record a lot, but it just wasn't working,” she said.

“I kept thinking that I couldn't sing and that I’m not talented. But I took some time to myself to just chill and relax, and lived in Canada for a year in 2019. After I came back I got serious.”


This ultimate leap of faith liberated Mawuli’s approach. Since then, she’s found value in trusting the process, no matter how long, treacherous or exhausting it can be.

“I’m someone who's really confident when I'm in an environment that I know and am comfortable with. But when it’s an unknown environment, I go into my shell and become super introverted,”

“I learned that being introverted and being quiet is gonna get you absolutely nowhere. If you want something you need to ask or you need to take it. And that made the Mawuli that you see today.”

And the Mawuli seen today certainly lives consciously, without second-guessing. It’s an admirable attribute, especially when you place yourself in an emotionally involved, intense creative discipline like music.

Nevertheless, her “no-brainer” mentality has helped reassure she is moving with intention, and living without doubt. Whether this be performing in grandiose venues, or telling a stranger she likes their outfit, Mawuli has been able to discover beauty and treasure in pushing herself.

“The feeling I hate the most in the world is regret,” she said. “I hate feeling like I should have done something or I should have said something. It's better to just push yourself and do it. It might not go the way you wanted it to go, but you should always try and put yourself out there.” 

Mawuli’s latest single, “Rich Girl”, is a blatant case of Mawuli saying what she wants without regret. The song is a playful, braggadocious R&B track featuring a Mawuli that demands satisfaction, not through love – but through luxury. It encapsulates the same essence of songs like Madonna’s “Material Girl”, but with a seamless sense of swagger that Mawuli naturally possesses.


“I've been brought up by some strong girls. So I want to make the girls feel good in everything that I do. "Rich Girl" is about empowerment – girls getting their money, girls being about their bag. In everything I do, I always want the girls to be the focal point at the end of the day.” she said.

This immediate, innate responsibility to uplift women can also be owed to the list of R&B and hip-hop trailblazers she identifies as pivotal influences in her music today.

“Aaliyah is always number one. She's had a huge influence on my cadence, my sound, even my style,” she said.

“SZA, Summer Walker, Ari Lennox. Randomly, Biggie and Tupac also have some weird influence on me. I think because they're just so unapologetic and their pen game is what I aspire to have,” she said.

Despite being on the radar of those who “knew” back in 2021, playing big corporation events and recording tirelessly, Mawuli still sees herself a rookie. Much of her time in between drops was spent sharpening her artistry, even if it meant canning songs entirely.

“I realised I actually don’t have any songs that I really, really like. I put them all in a vault and haven’t brought them out since.” she said.

The music we receive from Mawuli now is the purest, most refined version of herself. From here on out, she’s most determined to secure her own place in the rapidly evolving local music scene, and share the journey with those who resonate with it.

“I'm still finding my feet in all of this. Something that's super rewarding is people actually knowing the lyrics of my songs. It's such a touching feeling, even if it's just one person in the crowd. The best thing about doing this is having someone resonate with your words and think your words are good enough, ” she said.

“For a minute, I had a bit of a time where I kind of lost who I was. Being my most authentic self is so rewarding. No matter what I'm going through, I can step on stage and be whoever I want to be. That's my favourite part about it all.”

Adele is the Junior Writer & Producer for VICE AU/NZ. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter here.

Read more from VICE Australia and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, This Week Online.