NewTracks New Artist: Miakie

NewTracks New Artist: Miakie

Napier-born artist Miakie has struck gold with her first introduction to collaborative songwriting. Moving away from her previous folk-pop persona as Mia Jay into the RnB realm, with sensual single Infatuated she wants to express that there’s nothing wrong with feeling a little bit sexy and powerful. The song was picked by NZ On Air Music to be part of their NewTracks compilation this March.

What’s your given name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

My full name is Mia Jeanette Sohnge and I was born and raised in Napier, but I’m now based in Auckland. I play guitar and keys primarily. 

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I studied music at Otago University which was really fun. The most important thing I gained from that was connecting with different musicians, some of whom are still in my band today.

Any other projects we might know you from?

Until the end of last year I was working under the moniker ‘Mia Jay. This project was more folk-pop and was very band oriented, whereas now I am more focused on the quality of the recordings.

What’s the background story of how Miakie came to be? 

After performing under Mia Jay for a while I was lucky enough to be invited to Songhubs in Hawkes Bay, where I was introduced to the concept of collaborative songwriting. Up until this point I had never written or worked with a producer, rather I would take my songs to the studio and try to arrange them with my band. Leaving that week with well-produced songs in a different genre I decided that I couldn’t logically segue from the Mia Jay discography into this. It was about time for a change, with me leaving university and wanting something novel in my music. Devin Abrams has been helping me to discover this new sound which is exploring the RnB realm – something I’ve never delved into before. 

How has your writing evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

Up until a couple of years ago, writing by myself with a guitar or piano was the only songwriting method that I had in my arsenal. After Songhubs, that changed completely. I was scared of collaborative songwriting because I thought that I would be hindered by self-consciousness; it’s a process that makes you feel very vulnerable. But instead I thrived on writing collaboratively, and I felt that it brought the best out of my writing. I’m unafraid to share and I bounce off others’ ideas. It’s something that I wish I had discovered earlier! 

How did you come up with the name for your new project?

Miakie is my childhood nickname, something my parents and eventually, my friends would always call me. My parents are from South Africa originally, and ‘kie’ is something that you put on the end of a name or a word to make it sound cute. It would actually be spelled ‘Miatjie’, but I assumed that that would be far too confusing!

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

I played a lot of fun gigs in Dunedin. Thanks to the university there are many opportunities for up and coming artists like myself to jump on opening slots, O-week gigs or small festivals. My favourite was probably opening for Mako Road – uni students are always a great crowd and are very enthusiastic (read: drunk). The band and I were also lined up to open for Lime Cordiale, but unfortunately that got Covid-cancelled!

What makes Infatuated stand out for you as a single?

I’ve never released a song with such a ‘full’ sound. Every part of it is so thought out and placed together perfectly. In terms of my listening taste, I love listening to slow, chill music with meaning and sonic flair. I think that Infatuated suits that description pretty well. 

What’s the story behind Infatuated?

The day we went in to write this track we only had a few hours, so we decided to create something more simple. That’s why we went for the slow beat. As the instrumentation built up, I decided that it sounded really lusty and I wanted to draw on that. So the song is about being angry at your significant other, but also how that anger can evolve into a myriad of other emotions. When you love someone so much, sometimes the fire of anger between you turns into a fire of passion. For me, in the end, it turns into lust and makes me forget about what had vexed me in the first place.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of Infatuated?

In the second verse, Sylvee (Sarah Ryland) comes in with some heavenly backing vocals. Victoria Kelly came up with the idea of the BVs and Sylvee was the perfect person to execute them. It’s a cute little moment because not only is it beautiful to listen to, it’s describing what would be going through your mind in that situation. It’s like the narrative in your head during an argument.

Who did you write/record/produce Infatuated with?

The song was co-written by Sarah Ryland, Harry Champion, Devin Abrams and myself. Vic Kelly was also very much a part of the creation of the song. It was a really fun day. The room naturally kind of split and the boys were working away on the instrumentation while the girls worked on the lyrics. It felt natural that way because it’s really a celebration of feminine sexuality. 

What would you like listeners to take away from Infatuated?

Relationships can be confusing to navigate, especially if you feel conflicting emotions all at once. I just think it’s important to know what makes you feel empowered and communicate that. Nothing wrong with feeling a little bit sexy and powerful.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I guess it’s important to strike a balance between what you like best and what you think everyone else will like best. Sometimes you get lucky and both are true. That’s what it was like with Infatuated – everyone I showed it to wanted to listen again, and kept asking me when they can finally listen on Spotify.

Who else is in your team?

Luna Management (Mckenzie Comer) is managing my releases at the moment, she’s really on to it. Devin Abrams is the producer of the track and he’s also produced some upcoming stuff. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

Yes! I’ve written a follow-up EP with Devin, very much in the same vein as Infatuated. He’s been helping me to develop my sound and my identity as an artist, so we were really trying to figure that out with this EP. Honestly I have no idea when it will be released, my experience in this industry so far is that good things take time. As much as it pains me!

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others? 

I’ve had such a struggle with NZOA funding! I applied every round for a couple of years and was unsuccessful every time. Over time, I went to seminars and asked industry people how to make my applications better. The most important thing is that you have to have a solid plan alongside a well-produced song. Try to find a local producer who can take your song to the next level, and if it’s successful you’ll be able to pay them generously!

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I love Pigeons and Planes, HYPE Medium and NZ Musician!