From uploading covers and her own originals on YouTube, to collaborating with the likes of Djemba Djemba and releasing her own solo material, 21-year-old Melbourne singer, songwriter and producer Maribelle is a voice on the rise.

Possessed of a sultry after-midnight aesthetic that locates her alongside the likes of Kelela and Nao, she also has a smart and hands-on approach to the business side of being involved in music, one which led to the establishment of her Crush Club record label and Defs Not publishing company.

With her debut EP Overtake and a music video for 'Shout' out now, we connected with Maribelle to discuss YouTube, behind-the-scenes songwriting, handling business, staying inspired, and operating from the southern hemisphere.

Could you explain the importance of YouTube to the early stages of your music career?

YouTube helped me gain the confidence to put myself out there. I wouldn't have met the people who have helped me grow as a musician; I wouldn't have traveled to LA/NY to write, and I wouldn't have gained and met loyal fans who support my music without uploading my videos to YouTube.

From releasing original songs and covers on YouTube as a teenager, you caught the attention of New York's Titanium Music, who took you on a songwriting protégé. What was that experience like?

It was a chance of a lifetime for me. I would come home after school and write over Skype with Joe Boom (who mentored me, and taught me so much about writing), then during school holidays I'd fly over to New York to write and record with the team at Titanium. I wouldn't be able to write as I do right now if it weren't for the opportunity they gave me.

How did you transition from behind-the-scenes songwriting to working as a featured vocalist with the likes of Carmada, Penthouse Penthouse, and Djemba Djemba? What happened along the way?

I was recording almost every day, so over time my voice matured, and I learned how to engineer my own vocals. I'd send over really shitty drafts of my ideas, and I guess they saw potential in my voice. I always assume people will want to pitch out the things that I write to another vocalist, but I've got no complaints if I get to sing it as well.

From there, how did you make the jump to stepping center stage with your solo project?

I was in LA almost two years ago and spent a few weeks writing with Djemba Djemba. We wrote 'Overtake,' 'Who We Are,' and once I got back home, I wrote 'Shout,' and we finished it over email.

I never really thought of doing a solo EP until I wrote 'Say It For Me' with Styalz Fuego and Nic Martin and 'Can't Stay Cold' with Madeleine Jayne. Once I recorded all those songs properly, I just didn't want to let them go so the EP just came together pretty organically.

Alongside working as a singer, songwriter, and producer, you run your own publishing company, Defs Not, and Crush Club, a record label focused on showcasing new generation electronic pop. How did these two business ventures come together and what's it like running them alongside your own music?

I'm very in control of my own creative, so running a company/label has always been a long-term goal for me. To help incredibly talented writers, producers and artists find their way and have an outlet is something I'm passionate about. Both Defs Not and Crush Club just kind of came about once I realised that artists actually thought I was ready to look after them. I never imagined that I would start these companies so early on, but everything I do really complements each other. If I'm looking for single for a Crush Club artist, I have my team (and myself) at Defs Not to help write the songs and produce the songs and vice versa.

Could you give us a bit of context around your new EP Overtake? What was happening in and around your life as you were writing and recording it? When and how did you know it was ready?

As I've said, I wrote three of the songs from the EP almost two years ago. There were songs that I've swapped around a number of times, but never felt it was a complete and consistent project until I wrote 'Say It For Me,' and 'Can't Stay Cold.' It is only now that I realise that most of the songs are about speaking out, empowerment and having a voice. I've been through a long journey already and didn't find myself until I started to take control and speak up. You could probably say all the songs on the EP are passive aggressive messages about the shit I've been through [laughs].

What is it about making, performing and being involved in the business side of music that keeps you inspired and excited to do the different things you do?

The creative side of music is my favourite thing in the world. I love everything about it and being surrounded by all aspects of it. It brings people together, whether you're writing it, performing it or pushing out the release. Teamwork and collaboration are vital - to me, at least.

What do you think your life would be like without music?

I think about this every day. I used to play a lot of sports, so maybe I would've reeled in that direction. (No please).

You're based in Melbourne. What do you think are the advantages and challenges that come with attempting to engage with music on the world stage from the southern hemisphere?

The advantage of living in Melbourne is that I can record in my own house; the disadvantage is that I'm far away from a lot of people I'd love to work with (although the internet is a great help). There's nothing like writing and vibing with somebody in person.

Maribelle's Overtake EP is out now (stream/buy).