London-based singer-songwriter Abi Mia is nothing if not positive; spreading good vibes throughout the internet and social media with her immaculately produced feel-good, catchy music.
Abi Mia’s also one of the hardest-working musicians I’ve yet to meet. This isn’t surprising since in addition to being a musician, she’s also an athlete (in weight lifting) who runs her own fitness business. The skill set she’s acquired from her athletic and business experience has allowed her to become a highly productive songwriter, having released six original songs and one remix over the past year.
Abi Mia was gracious enough to grant me the following interview after taking a break from her very hectic schedule.
Where are you from and how did you get into music?
I am originally from Hertfordshire, just outside London. I have enjoyed both listening to music and singing since I was able to talk!
I was very introverted and shy as a kid and teenager which was one of the many reasons I didn’t pursue music sooner. I got into pursuing it as a career at the beginning of the pandemic when I suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands as I was unable to work, and realised I loved it too much not to try and pursue my dream of becoming a full time musician!
It has been an amazing whirlwind so far and I am so excited to see where this takes me!
In addition to being a vocalist, you’re also a keyboard player. What other instruments do you play?
I don’t currently play any other instruments and am still very much learning and improving on the keyboard! I play by ear mostly so I am really trying to improve my skills and theory knowledge to have a stronger base!
Who are your favourite musical artists, both past and present?
There are so many artists that I love and am very inspired by both past and present. And they have stayed pretty consistent over the years! Powerhouse vocalists like Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera have been my favourite artists since I was very young and still are today!
Over the years I have many other favourite artists including Demi Lovato, Alicia Keys, Sara Barelilles, BTS, Jennifer Hudson, Ed Sheeran and more I am sure! I do try to listen to a wider variety so I can have as many influences and learn as much as I can!
Are there any relatively unknown (i.e., indie) musical artists that you’re a fan of?
I am a huge fan of Marigold Ingot who is one of the best songwriters that I know and also an amazing performer/singer! We are at similar stages in our career and I think she is just fantastic – we connected through Instagram last year and I am so happy we did!
I also am a big fan of Stephanie Caprara (we also connected last year on Instagram) and I admire her individuality and variety when it comes to her music as well as being a fantastic vocalist. Both are also lovely people, very focused and motivated and it is great that we are able to support each other in this huge and complicated industry!
In addition to being a musician, you’re also a weightlifter. Being successful in such a physically demanding sport requires discipline, a strong work ethic and consistency. Do you feel that the aforementioned traits have helped you in developing your music career?
While I haven’t been training in that competitive way for a couple of years now, I do still lift weights and run my own fitness business so yes, these experiences have definitely helped me develop essential skills that I am applying to the development of my music career.
Any sport or business takes as you said a lot of dedication, organisation, hard work and whilst I am very naturally motivated and organised (which is why I feel I thrived at these things) it definitely fine tuned these skills for me and I know what is realistic in terms of goals and expectations and that it takes a lot of work to get anywhere, whatever your goal is and I am happy to put that work in when it is something that I love!
The main thing I have learned from these experiences is that there are no shortcuts, anything worth doing takes time, there are steps to follow and to trust the process.
How many years did it take you to develop your singing voice?
I am still very much developing my voice as I only started taking it seriously at the beginning of the pandemic but I have trained it on and off for a lot of my life.
I have done vocal coaching over the years and before I started back in March last year I hadn’t sung properly for about 8 years or so. I now make sure to do a certain amount of vocal exercises, training and practice each week so I can continue developing and become the best vocalist I can be!
I know again there is no short cut and I have to put in the work if I want full control of my voice.
Are there any vocal tips you can give to any aspiring singers who may be reading this interview? For example, do you have any warm-up exercises you like to use? Any techniques or exercises to expand your vocal range?
To preface my vocal tips, I am not a vocal coach, these are just things I have learnt over the years having different vocal coaches, learning online and experimenting what works for me and what doesn’t!
My favourite go-to exercises are lip trills. They really are a great way to stretch the vocal cords, lips and throat without any strain, you can really push the range and warm up the voice this way. I also love just doing arpeggios with different vowels and sounds (ma, mer, gug, ooh etc…) to help me get better at placing notes correctly so I am not straining my voice. This is helping me to strengthen my mix voice which I am really focusing on at the moment!
Overall the best thing I can recommend is to be consistent with your vocal training, exercises and appropriate rest to long term take care of your voice! Skills take time to build and that is no different with vocals!
Who are your influences as a vocalist?
I am heavily influenced by Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson. They are all such powerhouse vocalists, have great belting sounds, huge ranges and sing with such great emotion and control at the same time.
This is the vocal style that comes most naturally to me and I am working every day to become even partly as amazing as these vocalists whilst also realising all voices are unique.
I want to become the best ‘Abi Mia’ vocalist with different shades and colours to my voice so I can move people and take people with me through my music!
For each of your published songs (Fly Your Way, This Life, Checking In, Make Myself Tall, Here To Stay, Enough Is Enough) can you explain its origin, the meaning of the lyrics and any interesting tidbits you’d like to share about the writing and production process?
Wow, such great questions – I will answer in order of their release!
‘Fly Your Way‘ was my debut single which marked the start of my music career to me so it has a very special place in my heart. I wrote this one almost as a conversation with myself to ‘Fly your way, your wings are there for a reason, begin to do what you’re meant to… ‘
I wrote this at a time in my life where I was at a crossroads and was re-evaluating where I was heading in my life and realised it was up to me to follow my dreams and to take my happiness into my own hands. I did this with a vengeance and so glad I did!
This was the first time I had worked collaboratively with a producer online, the first time using my recording equipment so it was quite a slow process, and a little stressful at first but my producer was very patient and helped me pick up the skills I needed to record from home and send it over to him!
‘This Life‘ is about how unpredictable life is, we can plan and be organised but at the end of the day sometimes we just have to go with the flow.
I actually wrote this one a long time ago and revamped it to sound more current and it just so happened this message was very relevant to current times. We wanted to go for a more electronic sound with this track and my producer Noah did a great job introducing me to different sounds and styles with this one.
As an artist I think it is very important to explore different soundscapes, styles and even genres to grow and develop as a musician and to also keep the fans engaged! I am inspired with my writing by personal experiences, observing others experiences and current events.
There were a lot of events that took place last year that inspired me to write ‘Enough Is Enough‘ which is an anthem about getting out of our own way to stand up for what is right, not to be passive but to be active in changing the world for the better.
‘Let’s not pretend we are all the same, that’s what’s so great about the human race, it is about us and we should all care…‘ – this pretty much sums it up!
In terms of influence I had a little Evanescence vibe going here with the sound scape – they are also one of my influences!
‘Here To Stay‘ was a changeup in terms of emotion and style. It was more personal, a little deep and sad but I feel as an artist it is so important to write with a range of emotions to keep the music authentic and relatable.
‘They were lies, all lies, it never goes away…‘ it was about how we can’t completely bury our past even things that we prefer to forget are a part of who we are.
On the production side this was using a simple piano and guitar style and I was really happy with the piano part, I am working hard at that and I really enjoyed the different type of playing I did for this one!
‘Make Myself Tall‘ is one of my favourite releases in terms of the empowering, defiant and important message of this song. There are a lot of raw emotions in this song as I wrote it immediately after someone had made me feel small and I had decided not to allow it anymore!
I wrote this one to uplift myself and others and to spread the message that ‘there’s no one way to get things right…I’m gonna make myself Tall.’
It is up to us to stand up for ourselves and not let others put us down. We don’t have to be a victim. This track has the most complex harmonies so far as I really wanted to enlarge the energy of the track through the layering and in general I do just love a good harmony! These took me hours to record as there were so many different parts but it was worth the hard work!
Finally my latest new track (not including the dance remix of ‘This Life) ‘Checking In‘ – my most popular track to date – was another track that is very close to my heart. I wrote this at the beginning of the pandemic when I started having almost daily zoom chats with my grandpa as we couldn’t see each other.
It made me realise how important it is to check in with friends and family ‘yeah I know you are fine, but in case here’s a smile‘ and not wait until you think there is something wrong.
As humans we like to feel connected and supported even when we feel good! Just by simply checking in we can prevent people feeling alone and keep friendships and relationships strong!
One of my big production influences for this track was BTS – I am a huge fan of theirs and I am always inspired by their different sounds and variety that they create with their music. I feel that each release teaches me more and I am excited to share my new tracks throughout the rest of this year too!
All of your songs have a consistently bright, punchy and “happy” feel to their production. Would you care to share who produced your songs and what guidance you gave to your producer in the production process?
I am glad you get that vibe from my music as positivity is definitely something I want to spread through my music. Not all my current tracks are happy but for each one I think about the direction I want to go in and then look for some references to share with my producers. There are often different elements from a number of references and there is definitely trial and error within the process too!
I always send a rough demo with piano and vocals to build up form as well. It is hard to know if something sounds right until you hear it and then we make adjustments accordingly. I am slowly finding it easier to put across the sound I want for my music which I believe is another important skill to have as a musician!
I have worked with two producers so far – Noah Lloyd and Ashea. Both are fantastic and have their own styles and it is always a learning and collaborative experience creating my tracks!
Are there any singer songwriters who’ve musically or lyrically influenced you?
A lot of my inspirations I mentioned previously write a lot of their own music so definitely see above!
I also really like Alicia Keys’ writing and lyric style as well as Ed Sheeran. I like when singer-songwriters get across an important message in a simple and catchy way and this is something I am continuously working to improve on!
How do you go about composing your songs? Do you consciously sit down and treat writing a song like a full-time job or do your songs come from sudden inspiration (or maybe a mix of both)?
Definitely a mix of both. At the moment I can’t treat songwriting like a full time job as I also run my own fitness business but I do designate times to sit and be creative.
A lot of the time though I get inspired at random times and end up just writing a song unplanned! I feel these more spontaneous tracks are usually my better ones and I write them very quickly. I do still designate time though in case inspiration doesn’t ‘hit’ as I do intend on making music my main career and it is important to be able to turn on creativity when it fits into your schedule too or to be able to write to a brief.
Either way, composing and creating music feels like such a privilege and I will continue doing it as much as I can and become better!
Are there any specific tips that you can give to aspiring songwriters who may be reading this interview?
I would say firstly learn to have faith in your own abilities and also know that it is a positive thing and a necessity to sometimes be outside of your comfort zone. That is how we develop and improve our skills and evolve as musicians.
Not every song you write will be a hit, but the more you write and the more you dedicate time and effort to learning more and writing more the better you will become! Every song you write will teach you something and always make sure to record each idea so they don’t get lost even if you don’t think it is your best one.
You can always come back to ideas at a later date and you never know how useful they may be! I would also add that you have to realise not everyone is going to like your music or your style or writing but that doesn’t mean you aren’t good! Of course we always want to improve but don’t try to please everyone, just stick to what you believe is right for you and develop your songwriting accordingly.
I am still very much at the beginning of my songwriting journey and I can’t wait to develop more and to keep learning and creating!
You’re currently based in London. What’s the music scene like in London right now?
I don’t have a lot of knowledge from personal experience yet, as I only started last year during the pandemic and things are just starting to open up now (and to be honest before the pandemic I didn’t go to watch much live music).
I know that there are a lot of amazing venues in London – including The Fiddlers Elbow Camden where I am performing my first gig back – and there are a lot of opportunities. I also know there are so many fantastic musicians in London so I am sure there won’t be a shortage of fantastic live music events as things continue opening up! I can’t wait to become established in the London music scene and to be able to grow my fan base from there!
If Abi Mia of the year 2021 could sit down with Abi Mia of the year 2011 for cake and coffee, what advice would she give to her younger self based on what she’s learned and experienced (both good and bad) over the past 10 years?
I would say to myself don’t be afraid to go after what you want in life.
I would have told myself not to worry so much about pleasing others or about what they may think about certain choices and to definitely not let that hold you back.
I would have advised that consistency in anything is the most important thing, to be able to build successfully and to have fun, be in the moment and just appreciate every moment and experience and time really does fly by!
Overall I feel my motivation and energy has been similar over the last 10 years so I would just say keep doing what you love!
What are your short-term (within a year), medium-term (within 5 years) and long-term (within 10 years) professional goals?
Short term I want to keep releasing great singles and to build the momentum with my online fan base that way. I also want to feel more comfortable getting up on stage and performing on a regular basis to build toward a UK tour next year and to build a supportive entourage to help me build my career in the right way.
Medium-term I want to be an established artist, full time musician and songwriter (for sync, other bigger artists etc…) and I would love to have the opportunity to collaborate with one of my inspirations in some way. I want to feel like I am making a comfortable living from my music whilst still enjoying it and staying true to my values and sound.
In terms of performance I want to be able to fill stadiums by then so I can do a world tour! I feel it’s really important to gain momentum quite quickly and I want to aim high with my music!
Long term I want to have a stellar reputation as a musician and to be someone that people in the industry want to work with (well I want this shorter term too!). I want to have a niche loyal fan base who genuinely enjoy my music and to keep connecting with people through music.
Longer term though I don’t really know everything I want to be or what is possible. Still finding out what I do want as an artist and person so some of my goals may change as time goes on and one never knows what opportunities may show up! Overall I want to have kept my positive approach to life, feel like I can wholeheartedly be myself and to have a very successful, stable career as a musician.