Singer. Songwriter. Poet. Three creative elements Mia Ayana fluidly installs in her new song “Letter to My Past.”
Check out my interview with her!
MsNiseyBaby: You said you started writing in the 4th grade, do you remember the songs you wrote or what you were singing about?
Mia Ayana: *laughs* Yes! One song I wrote was about cookies in a cookie jar –and no, not the kind you eat. I might or may not have been inspired by Ciara’s “Goodies”. I had no business talking about that but that’s the only song I distinctly remember.
MNB: Some singers have rituals or warm-ups to their writing process, is there one for you before you create a song or get to the studio?
MA: It depends. When I hear a really great beat -I listen to it over and over again until the song I hear in my head becomes words. Sometimes, just one word I sing during the beat will layout the entirety of the song. So, just really feeling the beat and becoming one with it is my main thing. If I’m feeling stressed during the writing process, I relax with Blue Dream, and all falls in place, usually.
MNB: I want to know from you –which is harder? Being an indie artist as a woman or man? And do you believe listeners tend to put female artist in a box? Is there anything you’d like to see different?
MA: I see them both as difficult – but yea I feel like female artists are put in a box. In the sense that we’re sometimes expected to drop all morals and values in a claim to fame —that we have to sing about sexual things, or step out of a comfort zone into an even more unfamiliar one. I feel like women have to work twice as hard to show a level of seriousness and refusal to be sexualized. Women and men are same in the sense that it’s so hard to gain support, though. People only support things others do -apart of this societal hype. It’s hard for either sex or gender to break through that.
MNB: I love that you said you realized you didn’t have to be the next Beyonce’ to do what you loved. You also explained that Jhene’ Aiko’s sound is what gave you hope to share your voice publicly. I’m assuming you think that diversity in music is good for the music industry?
MA: Diversity is essential for the music industry. Different vibes provide different perspectives. Furthermore, it helps other growing artists understand their voices so that they don’t feel alone in their learning process. When I led songs in church back home, I felt so small because everyone’s else’s voice was so strong, and mine was like a little mouse then. My grandma would always tell me I needed to speak up. I would get mad. * laughs* But yeah, hearing other’s with similar voices really builds confidence. Hearing different voices as I got older really helped me.
MNB: Explain a little bit how you learned to do everything by yourself. I know you said you haven’t learned to make beats yet, but would you be open to working with other indie artist that do?
MA: I learned everything by trial and error. So I started taking this serious in 2015. At that time, I was using my iPhone, a shitty PC, and an old iHome one of my roommates gave me. I would connect the iHome to my PC with an AUX cord, so the beat could play out loud, then I would record using the voice memo recording feature on my phone. That was a hassle. When I was introduced to Logic, I just played around with it. I still do, given that I have no training in mixing/mastering vocals. I just tweak it until it sounds right—using reverb, delays, echoes, pitch correction. I play around with it until I feel it’s as perfect as I can get it. Sometimes, it’s super frustrating. I have to take a day break or so before going back to it.
As far as beats go, I’m definitely interested in working with other indie artists that can make beats. I’m really looking for someone who has knowledge with acoustic guitars, the piano, and more so that I can incorporate all of those instruments in my music naturally. I have all of these melodies in my head, and it sucks because I just don’t know how to use the technology to make it come alive.
MNB: Is there anybody you look up to or inspires you to do music? What advice would you give to anybody that wants to pursue music independently?
MA: My brother was really the first person to inspire me. He doesn’t make beats like he used to, but his dedication when he was younger really inspired me, and has stuck with me to this day. Also, just people from back home. My home church piano player, Renae is bomb. She can sing AND play the piano -and she makes sure everyone is on tune in the choir. I feel like she was one of the main people who helped my voice really grow. That’s hard if you don’t know what you’re doing. Mainstream artists who inspire me, as far as flow and depth of my music include 2 Pac, Kendrick Lamar, Jhené Aiko, Lana Del Rey, J. Cole, Young Dolph, and Snoop Dogg. When I was younger, I was inspired by Brandy, Alicia Keys, Monica, Beyonce, and more I just can’t think of at the moment.
Mia Ayana’s song “Letter to my Past” was written by herself and produced by Morgan Matthews.
“To me, this isn’t about ‘making it.’ It’s about sharing with the world my thoughts and beliefs and hoping they receive a spiritual and emotional awakening that wasn’t felt before. I want to bring to the world what is slowly dying: hope, love, peace, a spirit of light. If I can just help one person before I die, that’s enough for me. If I can help no one, at least I died doing what I’m passionate about.” –Mia Ayana
To hear more from Mia Ayana’s music check out her soundcloud below.