From cassettes to MP3′s, Mya has made her mark on the music industry for over a decade and now the D.C. native has returned to her hometown to prepare for the release of her new album.
By Grace Romanowsky
She sings, she acts, and those who saw her on Dancing with the Stars know that she most definitely dances. Apparently being a triple-threat was no place for Mya to rest her laurels however. The singer/songwriter also happens to be a model, designer, producer, choreographer, activist and philanthropist. …Come again? No, to our knowledge she does not possess any supernatural abilities which help her to slow down time, double the hours in a day, or look just as stunning now as she did when she began her career over a decade ago. She’s just inhumanly ambitious and talented, that’s really all there is to it. Consider her part of the rare breed of musicians who came to stardom in the 90’s and isn’t hosting her third “final performance” concert with your parents drinking O’Douls in the audience. Thirteen years after the launch of her career, Mya’s back in her hometown D.C., just released a hot new dance single last month, is priming for her album release in April, and it doesn’t look like she has any plans of slowing down.
Washington Life’s Grace Romanowsky : You recently collaborated with house music mastermind Cedric Gervais on your new single “Love is the answer.” It’s definitively a different sound for you–is this something you’re moving more towards, or was it just a fun change of pace?
Mya Since 1998, I’ve always had electronic dance & house music remixes for my “R & B/Pop” singles, so this is not a stretch for me. The difference now is that the sound is actually within a single instead of a remix. But I must admit, the dance scene is quite entertaining for myself!
WL: I’m sure this track will be quickly become a favorite in the D.C. club scene. Can we expect more club bangers on the album you’ll release in April?
M: Oh there are some heaters on my upcoming album! You may not hear them on the radio as that actually requires support, but the album will be available digitally in April.
WL: Babyface, Missy Elliot, Pink, Wyclef, Diane Warren… .In the past you’ve collaborated with some of the greatest artists in the music industry. Who would you like to work with next?
M: Quincy Jones, Robin Thicke, Maroon 5 or just incredible musicians.
WL: Any plans to join the “Bieber Fever?”
M: No, but I’ve always envisioned finding, developing & protecting young talent of my own after I make my mark.
WL: You broke into the music industry at eighteen and over a decade later you’re still making an impact- How haven you seen the industry change since you started off?
M: I’ve watched technology change & progress before my eyes. I went from releasing an album on a cassette tape, to releasing albums in the form of cd’s, now mp3’s. Technology, the internet & social media is absolutely incredible and provides a direct link to your fans and a great way to connect & provide all forms of content. I love it!
WL: Do you find yourself having to make any adaptations, or have you evolved alongside with it (the industry?)
M: I’m an independent artist so I go with the flow of change. With the evolution of the music industry, I find the positive and look at the transitions as an asset. Major labels who have staffs of people are still going through a major transition as album sales are at an all time low for many reasons, not just technology. And it is a very slow, risky process of adaptation for them as it’s in their best interest to be conscious of every penny & return.
WL: In the past few years you’ve had your focus elsewhere besides music- from appearing in films such as Chicago, to competing on Dancing with The Stars, to supporting various philanthropic causes. Have you come full circle back to singing, or do you plan to continue to pursue all of your passions and creative interests?
M: Actually that’s inaccurate. I’ve released albums in 08 (Japan), 09 (Japan), 10 (US), with another album being released this year 11 independently, so I’m very passionate about my music and have never abandoned it. People do not hear me on the radio in the US due to a system in place necessary to be heard that I am not currently affiliated with. Regarding philanthropy, that will always be a factor present in my life. I am not just a singer, but an entertainer & more importantly a woman with an interest in causes that make life a beautiful one to live, so yes, you will always find me doing other projects outside of just a song & a cute music video.
WL: You recently relocated your studio and home base from L.A. to D.C. What prompted this move, and what effects, if any, has it had on your career?
M: After living alone in LA for 3 years, I felt part of myself was missing so in 2005, I made the decision to to create a nonprofit organization based in the metropolitan area as teaching is one of my passions. The “DMV” area is where my family resides & I prefer to be close to them as much as I can because I spend most of my life on the road. I now travel with a portable studio but felt it was necessary to have my own studio to creatively be free & cost effective as studio can get very costly. My brother built it. Thanks Chaz! I also took some time to study sound engineering so I could engineer my own projects & not have to wait on anyone else or a budget to be approved in order to do what I love & serve my fans. My band, dancers & even a few producers I work closely with are from this area and it feels absolutely incredible & rewarding being able to find talent at home and share the experience of travelling the world.
WL: The music video for “Love is the answer” was filmed on location in D.C. Any particular reason for this, and how was the experience of filming in your hometown?
M: 8112 Studios who directed the video are located in the Metropolitan area.
WL: I trust some of your killer moves we saw on Dancing with the Stars will be showcased in the video?
M: I’m still recovering from ankle surgery from Dancing with the Stars, so none of that in this video. It’s not quite appropriate for the song anyway.
WL: You’re a big advocate for the rapidly developing arts and music scene here in D.C., and have said it’s a city often underestimated for the creativity and talent it harbors. Any exciting plans in the area for the near future to showcase its promise?
M: I’d truly love to have a facility of my own in the inner city that focuses on personal & financial counseling for families, an emphasis on education, health & fitness with the balance of an arts program that allows youth to become independent, creative thinkers with an outlet of escape & expression. I’d love to one day be in the position to provide multiple scholarships & promise for youth who are so often overlooked.