An artist's evolution: Mia K shares her inspiration, genre-spanning journey, and the healing power of music.
Mia K © 2023
Today We Have The Pleasure To Have Mia K. On Goathead
GH: Mia, Could you share a bit about how the inspiration behind your upcoming acoustic folk EP, ‘Past Time”, and how working with James Nemecek influenced the creative process?
Mia K: It’s funny how chance encounters can shift our trajectories and create inspiration. I was visiting my sister in Fairport Harbor for some much-needed R&R. My sis and I were walking to dinner and we noticed there was this Mic night going on - so naturally I wanted to go, lol. I walked in, and this handsome guy came up to me and says, “You look Dressed for stage!”, to which I winked and replied, “I usually am.” Thus, I met the artist and show manager James Nemecek. Through the night I listened to him promote, play with and harmonize with the different artists that came out to the open mic- and by the end of the show, I knew that I wanted to do a project with him. Meeting James and watching him thoroughly support the other musicians reminded me of the real value of music: expressing our thoughts and feelings to others. James supports everyone he meets so fiercely, I wanted to do the same, and get him back into the studio. So we picked a date for me to come back up, and the project “Past Time” was born. He had songs close to his heart ready to be filled out and recorded, and I had just gone through a mini heartbreak with an old flame from my childhood- learning that sometimes you can’t just pick up where you left off, and some memories of people are only memories. In this expression of lost loves and unfulfilled dreams, we started out on the same nostalgic wavelength. Working with James reminded me of my musical roots, re-invigorated my zeal for acoustic music, and fulfilled a need to harmonize with others. We also included a new Artist on the EP, Donna Tran, who is an amazing seventeen-year-old singer from Mentor, Ohio. We both wanted to use the opportunity to give a young artist the experience of being in the studio, and watching their art come to life.
GH: Transitioning from a bluesy folk project to exploring R&B and hip-hop with Federal District Records, and now working on an EDM remix album with Mr. Los- how has this journey across diverse genres shaped your musical identity?
Mia K: It has definitely shaped my musical identity positively. This art form is fluid- and I love the challenge of expressing myself through the different genres. Moving from Appalachian Americana folk to Hip-hop was a definite challenge- and it made me a better songwriter, opened my career up to a new world. I had to become relevant in a totally new room, almost like learning a different language. I’m very thankful to have had that experience. When I first launched my solo career, a lot of people were telling me that I had to choose a genre- and I am glad I did not take that advice. Honestly, I think working in only one genre would make me feel like I was writing the same song over and over, lol. I need the freedom of different beats and the wide-open spaces, the freedom to change my sound and the freedom to evolve. My fans will come with me.
GH: Your solo career started as a way to cope with the loss of your duo partner, Dillon Quinton. How has this deeply personal experience influenced the themes and emotions conveyed in your music?
Mia K: For a while, loss was all I could write about. Losing Dillon was also losing our work and all the dreams I had for the future. Before the age of 30, I’ve lost my father to a rogue heart attack, my mother to cancer, I’ve been through an incredibly nasty divorce- but the pain of losing my artistic equal and best friend hit me the hardest. I think because we had aspirations and plans for a future. When your future gets pulled out from under you in one moment- it's hard to get back up. I actually could not even listen to music for a year. It drove my friends crazy- I had a total no music rule. Just a riff or a few notes were enough to shatter my heart all over again. Then after a year or so, I picked up Dillon’s old Yamaha and started strumming. I haven’t put it down since. Music broke my heart, and it healed it. I learned to play guitar and I was able to talk about the pain, transmute the ugly feelings into something beautiful. I was able to commemorate my lost loves- take them with me on this artistic journey. I still do this for both of us- Dillon may have passed on to heaven, but I keep him with me in the music.
GH: Going from being a part of a label to going independent in 2022, what aspects of artistic freedom and expression do you find most important, and how has being independent impacted your creative process?
Mia K: Three words: I Love It. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot in label life. I am very thankful to have had the experience, and Federal District Records opened a lot of doors for me. It taught discipline. But it is so nice just to be the artist I am, and not have to bend or compromise about what I want to do, wear, how I do my hair, or what my sound is like today. As an independent artist, it's me who is in charge of this ship- not an executive. And to me, that keeps the artistic integrity more real. I see a lot of Artists going this way- and I think it's a positive trend. Now if we can only get the streaming services to pay accordingly.
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