Marcus Mumford reveals what inspired his new song: ‘I was sexually abused as a child’

A man playing acoustic guitar on stage.
Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons performs at the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival in 2019.
(Amy Harris / Associated Press)

Marcus Mumford has opened up about being sexually abused as a child.

Ahead of his new solo album, “Self-Titled,” the lead singer of Mumford & Sons spoke with GQ about his latest single, “Cannibal,” a deeply raw and personal song that received a Steven Spielberg-directed music video.

“Like lots of people — and I’m learning more and more about this as we go and as I play it to people — I was sexually abused as a child,” Mumford told the magazine. “Not by family and not in the church, which might be some people’s assumption. But I hadn’t told anyone about it for 30 years.”

Mumford also revealed that “Cannibal” was the first time he told his mother about the abuse, after she heard it through the walls and asked what the song was about.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s about the abuse thing,’” Mumford said of his response. “She was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ So once we get through the trauma of that moment for her, as a mother, hearing that and her wanting to protect and help and all that stuff, it’s objectively f— hilarious to tell your mom about your abuse in a f— song, of all things.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Mumford distanced himself from the politics of former Mumford & Sons band member Winston Marshall, who stepped away from the group last year to examine his “blindspots” after praising Andy Ngo’s book “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.”


Mumford made it clear that although he still supported his friend — and actually begged him to stay in the band, saying he felt you can disagree and still work together — he couldn’t bring himself to support Marshall’s views.

Marcus Mumford tapped Steven Spielberg to direct his ‘Cannibal’ music video. The best part? The three-time Oscar winner shot it all on his phone.

July 18, 2022

“I just don’t think it’s the job of musicians to have all those thoughts,” Mumford told GQ. “And I think Win probably agrees. I don’t know. But I should think he probably agrees. Which is part of the reason why he wanted to quit. Because he felt like his priorities couldn’t align in the way he wanted to speak about things and live life. He wanted to do a different thing. And that’s why I support him doing a different thing. Even though we disagree on a lot. A lot. And more now.”

Less than a month ago, Spielberg made his music-video directorial debut when he filmed the one-shot video for “Cannibal,” all on his phone. Spielberg even got special assistance from his wife, actor Kate Capshaw, who moved the 75-year-old director around in his rolling chair to get the perfect shots.

Mumford & Sons banjo player Winston Marshall apologizes and deletes a tweet calling Andy Ngo’s new antifa tome an “important book.”

March 10, 2021

“On Sunday 3rd July in a high school gym in New York, Steven Spielberg directed his first music video, in one shot, on his phone,” Mumford wrote in a Twitter thread. “Kate Capshaw was the almighty dolly grip.”


“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the people around me to bring this music to you, and I cannot hope to express all of my gratitude,” he added. “When people get it, it blows my mind. Kate and Steven just got it, and I cannot thank them enough.”

Mumford’s “Self-Titled,” featuring collaborations with Phoebe Bridgers, Brandi Carlile and others, is scheduled to be released Sept. 16. He’ll perform at the Wiltern in L.A. on Sept. 30.