A couple years ago I started to hear about Miya Folick so when she was opening for one of my faves, Kate Nash, last year, I made it a point to arrive early for her set. Having impressed me with the energy of her live performance, I was ready for Miya’s eclectic full-length debut Premonitions some months later. A bit after its release, Miya and her bandmate Josh Menashe (guitar / keyboard) joined us to chat and perform acoustic versions of songs from the record for another SubModern Session, which you can listen to below.
FMQB: Before Premonitions, you had some EPs out and you’ve stated that some of your fans might be surprised by what they hear on the album.
Miya Folick: Honestly, I expected people to be more surprised than I think they are. [laughs] I think a lot of music journalists, when talking to me, a common question is "Oh, it’s a lot different than your EPs." I kind of expected listeners to do the same, but they didn’t. But also I think a lot more people have listened to this album than any of the EPs, so a lot of them are new listeners and they don’t know to be surprised. People have been surprisingly unconcerned by this genre-bouncing, but I think if you’ve listened to me, it’s anticipated, knowing my old work.
FMQB: Genre-bouncing is a good thing! I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard the EPs, but I saw you live earlier this year, so going into the album, that was my basis for comparison. It was a pretty rockin’ live show so maybe I was a little surprised that there’s a lot of pop sounds on the album.
Miya: On that tour, we’d already started playing some of the album, but the songs weren’t entirely finished, so we were playing kind of different arrangements of them. And even now, when you see it live, it’s a different experience. It’s not like listening to the album, which some people do, which is fine, but I think it’s a little bit more exciting when the live show is a tiny bit different. Mostly it’s more guitars and more live drums.
FMQB: Is your full band on the recording or is it fewer people?
Miya: Yeah, the album was me and [producers] Justin Raisen, Yves Rothman, Luke Niccoli. That was like the core team. And then we did sessions with studio musicians and we ended up playing a lot of it ourselves. We didn’t do any real, like live band recording, as I did on the first two EPs, which are with this band that I tour with. The album is more produced.
FMQB: And is this band that you tour with now, the same band that you recruited on Tinder?
Miya: Yes! Yeah!
FMQB: That really worked out! That could’ve been very dicey!
Miya: I feel like it’s the modern, like posting a flier on the wall at your local rehearsal space. Everybody’s on Tinder, or at least they were. I feel now it’s kind of died down. But when I met them three years ago, I was having trouble finding a band in real life, so I was just like, all musicians are on Tinder so I should just make a Tinder profile that says I’m looking for a band. And it worked out!
FMQB: That’s good!
Miya: We’re actually going on tour in February with the band Barrie from New York, and I think they actually found their bass player on Tinder as well, which I think is funny.
FMQB: I want to talk about your voice a little bit. You have a great voice, you have a great range. When you write songs, are you writing to your own vocal strengths, or do you just write the words and then figure out how you’re gonna sing them later?
Miya: I write to my vocal strength, only in that I write by singing. I don’t write things down, and I don’t really write lyrics before melody ever. For instance, "Thingamajig," that started by Justin playing those chords on a Rhodes and we looped it, and I got up on the mic, and just… Basically I write like a rapper. If you think of how rap sessions go, you make a track and then the rapper gets up there and just spits things out for five minutes to an hour, depending on how long it takes to get to the song. That’s how I do it too. I just sing until there’s a song. And sometimes if I have a lot of different melodic and lyrical ideas, but I can’t figure out what the song is about , then I’ll pause, and we would all listen back to the recording and pick out what we liked to make a collage of song and figure out what it’s about. Then I’d go back and really solidify the lyrics.
FMQB: You’ve used the phrase domestic pop about some of these songs, in taking everyday moments, like a lyric that stuck out to me was about painting your toes and eating Cheerios. So taking those everyday moments and making them into bigger songs.
Miya: Yeah, I think that the things that I find most beautiful are rarely the most spectacular. So one of the intentions going into the album was to make something that felt spectacular, but that was about mundane, everyday things. Because that’s what makes up our lives. If you can’t find the beauty in that, then you’re just waiting around for the better life to come, but this is it. This is the one. [laughs]
Find out more about Miya Folick at MiyaFolick.com or TerribleRecords.com and catch her on a headlining U.S. tour in February and March. Listen to her acoustic SubModern Session performances of "Freak Out," "Thingamajig," and "What We’ve Made" here.
By Josh T. Landow