in conversation... miya folick


5th November, 2019

“I was working a lot, like 50-60 hours a week at the restaurant. I would go for really long walks in the morning, then go to work, then go home and make music til I fell asleep. I didn't feel any pressure to make the music. I just liked to do it”

Observational and emotional, Californian musician Miya Folick incorporates intimate and empowering lyrics against powerful guitar lines and vocals. Folick moved to New York to study acting at NYU, only to find herself caring less and less about auditions and more about music. Soon after, Miya relocated to LA, and unaware of anybody in the LA music scene, managed to hire her band through Tinder. Since then, Miya has released a string of EP’s and singles, with debut album ‘Premonitions’ (2018) released to rave reviews.

We caught up with Miya moments before her headline show at London’s now defunct Borderline, days before an intimate set at All Points East, to discuss university, working 50-60 hour weeks, and #MeToo.

You okay hun?

Yes, I’m ok. I have a good life and am healthy. I'm dealing a bit with body image related anxiety right now, but I'm keeping it under control.

‘Premonitions’ delivers a hugely intimate yet anthemic debut album with much of its songs boasting personal and universal empowerment. Were there any specific themes or messages that you wanted to explore upon writing the album?

I wanted the album to feel empowering. Like washing your dishes or doing your laundry can feel empowering, but also breaking up with someone or calling out your abuser can be empowering and also remembering the vastness of the universe can be empowering.  I think I just wanted the album to both focus on small things, but also zoom out to view the bigger picture.

Track ‘Dead Body’ is a powerful song with a powerful message, and in light of the #metoo movement seems more poignant than ever. How did the song come about?

I was in the studio with Justin Raisen and I just started playing an F# on the piano, and repeating it. There was something about that tone that spoke to me. The "It's my sunny disposition that you liked" line just came out. I had been wanting to write a song that could feel powerful, personal and defiant about sexual violence, and I thought that maybe this could be the song. Justin came up with the piano idea for the chorus and I was singing along to that. The "Over my dead body" idea just kinda came out of my subconscious. I definitely write in a very stream of consciousness manner. 

I didn't finish the lyrics for the song that day, because I knew I wanted it to be more detailed but I was having trouble figuring it out. I think maybe that weekend I read an article that Lupita Nyong'o wrote for the New York Times about her experience with Harvey Weinstein. Lupita recalled a specific instance where Harvey insisted that she drink a vodka and diet soda that he’d ordered for her, and she refused. He continued to push her to drink it and she continued to refuse. I thought I could maybe build the lyrics around that specific dynamic, so that's what I did but I made it Coke and vodka because that sang better.

Part time work can be a necessity for any young artist. How did you find balancing your music with bar and restaurant work when you first started out?

I was just recently thinking back on that time with a bit of nostalgia. It was a really fun time. I was working a lot, like 50-60 hours a week at the restaurant. I would go for really long walks in the morning, then go to work, then go home and make music til I fell asleep. I didn't feel any pressure to make the music. I just liked to do it. I didn't think anyone would ever end up listening to it. 

I think it became more difficult to balance when I started putting music up on the internet. By that time, I had left the restaurant and was working at a juice bar. I lost my voice pretty bad after a particularly late night, and because we had to yell over blenders at the juice bar, it was really hard for my voice to recover. It was pretty fucked up for several months and I just came to the conclusion that I had to quit. I was worried that I was going to permanently damage my voice. By then, music was making me more money than the juice bar job. So, I quit.

miya folick backstage at borderline, london 

You mentioned previously that New York was a difficult time in that you battled depression during college. Could you tell us a bit more about what happened?

Honestly, parts of it are difficult for me to remember now because I was in such distress. I was terribly lonely and having difficulty connecting with people. I had a few friends who really helped me through, but somehow I didn't realize I wasn't alone at the time. I was having trouble going to class and caring about school. I would skip and go for really long walks through the city. Walking through the city was the only thing I really enjoyed. But, I felt so guilty because school was so expensive and I felt like I was wasting money and my life. I also was struggling with an eating disorder that I was hiding from everyone. I was just a mess. But, it was also an extremely enlightening and educational period in my life. I really learned how to sing at NYU and I learned to love writing there too.

Do you think that touring and travelling around can have an impact on your mental health and well being, and if so, how do you manage it?

Yes, but I think it's very different for everyone. I think I actually do pretty well on the road because I feel a strong sense of purpose everyday. But, I also take very good care of myself. I eat well, I don't drink too much, I try to get to sleep early, I exercise almost everyday, I call my girlfriend constantly, and I read a lot.  I also listen to Sam Harris meditations a lot. You honestly just have to do everything in your power to stay healthy. You live like a monk on the road.

Finally, how do you unwind and relax?

I love to exercise. I go running or take a yoga class. Kristine (my girlfriend) and I take a boxing class every Sunday when we are in town. We also love to go for walks, get a drink at a neighborhood spot, see music, talk to friends, read, watch Queer Eye, visit my parents. Normal things.

Latest single ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’ is out now. 

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words and images: patrick taylor

uoh 2020 — @uok.hun