Factoring in her accomplishments of brokering major production and investment partnerships and drawing the attention of major label scouts a few short weeks after independently releasing her new Debut EP “These are the years”, it’s safe to say that multi-instrumentalist Mia LJ has been very busy indeed!
As part of the first feature under the #audiolovemusic project, we are delighted to have caught up with this prodigious talent to discuss the inspirations behind her latest project, the role of social media in today's music world, and her early struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. Following this, we have an exclusive live visual of the song "Shining Lights"
It’s been a while since we last caught up with you, What have you been up to?
Mia LJ : Ay, such a pleasure to connect again! Since then, I've released my debut EP "These are the Years" worldwide via all major platforms. Just weeks after this project was made available to the public, I received several major offers (in the form of recording deals) to initiate production on my debut album being released later this year! At this point, we are in the final phases of production. It's bitter sweet as I'm anxious to hit the road and bring the music to life for fans, but I am definitely going to miss this process. I was able to detach from the world with my focus fixated on manifesting dreams and prophesying more. Life has changed in ways that I could have never imagined. I am so grateful for the support I've gained, from fans to industry professionals.
Your new EP sounds great! Talk to us a little bit about your influences on this project and how you came up with the concepts behind the songs that made the final cut?
Mia LJ : My debut EP "These are the Years" encompasses a collection of songs independently written between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. The concept behind this release transformed into a gap project -- revealing the music's evolution over time. I wrote the title track upon turning thirteen and recorded it within the same year. It definitely served as a great introduction to the world, accurately representing my mental state --- young, hungry for success, and driven by dreams. However, I ended up postponing the public release as I was determined to offer fans more than just a single. I wrote "Shining Lights" and "Walk My Way" at fifteen. Up until the age of sixteen, I didn't really understand where all this inspiration came from as I had yet to experience a lot of the topics that lyrics discussed. Looking back, I've realized that every song forged a path ; almost as if I was somehow subconsciously aware of what the future held or self prophesying things through my music. "Uh - Oh" and "Hold Me" were written at the age of seventeen. These two songs were inspired by quite an intense year of growth and discovery. During my time as a sixteen year old college student, I had experimented with everything from sex to drugs to my musical writing style. In the end, the EP was heavily influenced by my childhood dreams and teenage memories.
It’s always a breath of fresh air when an artist not only writes their music but has a hand in the instrument playing and arrangement; this must certainly give you a great deal of creative control...
Definitely! I independently write and record all of my music from guitar, piano, bass, drum, vocal and lyric arrangements. I also co-produce every single song. Furthermore, deciding what tracks make the cut for release is an independent decision as well. Hundreds of my songs never see the light of day. Ultimately, I possess complete creative control. I'm a VERY picky person to say the least as I've really found my niche when it comes to the style of writing and production. The creative vibe established heavily relies on the state of my personal life. I'm a hopeless romantic, very sensual ; continuously dealing with my hand of struggles throughout life ; and am very in tune with my desires. Such personal topics really set the tone in a lyricism aspect while instrumental arrangements fulfill the emotional aspect. Still, with all this control, I am very open to collaborating and truly value additional input from those involved on a project.
What are your thoughts on the music industry at the moment and the role of social media as a tool to help drive success? Has it become easier for artists to be discovered?
The music industry has its positives and negatives just as everything does. I love social media because it gives artists and fans the ability to personally connect. It also provides the freedom to release content in the moment such as live stream videos and photos that allow fans to see the world through our eyes. The internet has definitely made it easier for artists to share their work. Free streaming sites are prime when it comes to gaining new fans. Yet, I've come to realize how much technology has hindered the music industry. There is an extreme lack of balance between what it costs to create and what it costs to obtain those creations -- whether it be a song, album, music video, etc. So much is invested into a project from a financial, emotional, and physical stand point. I often find myself working up to 30 hours straight with no days off which definitely takes a toll on the body. Emotionally, I reveal so much of my personal life to the world through music and interviews which has cost my privacy. Financially, there's a ton of people involved in large productions including visual team members, mix/master engineers, talent managers, booking agents, attorneys, live band members, and many more. Having an incredibly supportive fan base tends to balance the extensive costs taken on. I've been pursuing music for over fourteen years (since age five) and playing professionally for nearly five years. The sacrifices I've made to get this far are inconceivable. This is an industry / profession where you lose things you'd never imagine and gain things you'd never dreamt. At the end of the day, I find happiness in music. Music is honestly my life. Music is my purpose. There is nothing I'd rather do, no matter where the industry stands.
What things have you focused on to stick your head above the parapet and be noticed amidst all the noise?
My focus is fixated on establishing a trademark sound -- consistent amongst vocal tone, lyrical flow, and certain production preferences. Besides this, being recognised for creative independence in addition to having a style of music that incorporates so many different genres has definitely helped me stand out. People are often taken back my musical ability and knowledge on the business, especially considering my age (19 YO). I take everything with a grain of salt and push myself harder than ever before with every accomplishment.
Your battle with drug and alcohol abuse a few years ago is a subject that you have always been unafraid to approach and you mentioned that there was a lot of pressure for success from an early age which was the cause of these problems as well as suicidal thoughts talk us through these experiences in a bit more detail?
It's difficult to cover the seventeen years of life and suppressed emotions which led to my battles with drug and alcohol abuse. My habits arose from more than just the self induced pressure for success. As a child, I encountered conflicts within my immediate relationships which converted to internal conflicts. Prior to being introduced to drugs, I developed a self harm addiction at the age of fourteen. I somehow managed to keep the scars, scabs, and fresh cuts that marked my entire forearm hidden for over three years. The dreams that inspired my debut EP's title track "These are the Years" seemed to sink into the depths of my mind. Resorting to drugs and alcohol at sixteen was just my way of intensifying coping skills as I became increasingly unsatisfied with life. The freedoms discovered without parental supervision as a college student served as a small temptation into my venture with "gateway" drugs. Yet as the people surrounding me smoked insane amounts and cheers'd cup after cup, I found myself chugging bottles, searching high and low for prescription pills, and scavenging the campus and city streets for various drugs. All the while I had a ridiculous amount of aspirin, a blade, and a bloodied note tucked away in a small bag, ready to disappear with me.
How did you overcome this? And how do your experiences shape the music you create nowadays?
My struggles continued even after several suicide attempts and rehabilitation. Eventually, rather than utilising drugs to suppress certain thoughts and emotions, I decided to explore those thoughts and emotions. It came down to an experiment with sobriety and self control. This led to an altered state of mind similar to the way drug experimentation does. It's a very hard concept to explain but when words lack, music speaks. I've been able to translate my past, present, and future through music. I've reached new levels of consciousness. My writing has progressed in line with the battles fought and lessons learned. I'm really proud of the direction that my music seems to be headed.
How do you keep your fans updated with what you are up to?
In the coming weeks, production on a daily docu-series will begin. My goal is to provide fans with a very personal behind the scenes perspective as I progress between making records and touring internationally for the first time. Life has been a movie with new challenges and plot twists to take on day by day. It's definitely something I want to share moving forward with efforts concentrated on inspiring people to never stop dreaming let alone living.
Hit play on the video below to see and listen to the visual exclusive for Shining Lights
Hit play below for some of Mia LJ's other music!
Are you currently on tour, what does your tour list look like?
A massive announcement regarding new music and major city spot dates shows / tours will be made in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!