Mya Harrison, known professionally under the mononym Mya, has achieved many incredible things since bursting onto the music scene in the late 1990s. The Grammy Award winner has spent 22 years as an internationally known singer, songwriter, producer, dancer/choreographer, actor, activist, and philanthropist. After more than two decades in the limelight, she has no plans of slowing down and continues to raise the bar.
In an exclusive interview with The Inquisitr, the “Case of the Ex” hitmaker opened up about how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed her lifestyle, what it’s like being an independent artist, what fans can expect from her upcoming studio album, her latest track “Without You” and a potential “Lady Marmalade” reunion.
Fabio Magnocavallo: In March, you were performing across the U.K. and Ireland right before the country went into lockdown. How was that whole experience for you?
Mya: We landed in Dublin first and that’s actually when the country got hit with coronavirus, the same day we landed. We were very, very cautious on the tour when we were traveling around. However, when we finished our last show, we were informed that two other crew members and another act had tested positive, so that was very, very scary because we were in contact with all the other artists, etc. Then the travel ban went into full effect and we stayed an extra day, so we weren’t sure if we were gonna make it home as flights, etc., were being delayed. But the tour was beautiful and it was a lot of fun. We had so many great times and memories to take with us when the world was a different world.
FM: How has the pandemic changed your creative process?
M: There have been a lot of cancelations, and I’ve basically been conforming to the new wave of virtual performances as well as PSAs, meet and greets, along with cooking sessions, and Instagram lives from my home studio, which has been very, very productive and a great way to connect with people. Musically, I’ve released “Space and Time,” which is healing music and appropriate for the times. It was something I recorded in 2018 that I thought would be more appropriate being that we are kind of forced to either be indoors or isolated from what we know to be familiar and what used to be the world. So, this is about taking advantage of this time and allowing ourselves to self-love, self-care, and self-heal.
FM: 2020 seems like the perfect year finally to release the song as it’s probably more relatable than ever.
M: Absolutely! You know, I was going and going and going on the road non-stop for the past few years. For the very first time in my career, I’ve been stationary. I’ve never actually had this time because yes, I’m addicted to work but it’s been a grind and it doesn’t stop and when the opportunities are there you chase them, take advantage of them. So “Space and Time” spoke to my spirit, which is why I wanted to put it out for those reasons being that I hadn’t been this close to family and spent this much time with loved ones and gotten in contact with close friends for such a long time. Being that things are so uncertain regarding health and not knowing what tomorrow brings, I had a reality check myself and all those things are addressed in the song, so it’s appropriate for the times.
FM: How was the shooting the music video in your garden during quarantine too?
M: I would have probably been out of town to shoot the video with the crew I’m used to using in Los Angeles. However, I found a film crew that was in my hometown, which was great. I was just walking my dog one day and I saw nature’s confetti. There were cherry blossoms out in April and the petals started falling off the trees and I thought to myself, this is so beautiful, I’ve never ever, ever seen this in my very own yard before, what are the chances?!
So, I started with a photo shoot, and then the photo shoot led me to want to shoot a video just because of what I witnessed during lockdown in my very own back yard that I never knew was there in the first place because I was always on tour. So, I don’t think I would have actually been stationary in my hometown because I like to work and like touring. However, this one was more personal.
FM: And what about your lifestyle? You’re very open about being a vegan and there have been noticeable shortages and production issues.
M: Well, there has been gardening happening on my property — avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers. There haven’t been shortages here at the grocery stores because they have remained open, which is amazing. However, during the lockdown, they had a curfew at 8 p.m. so you had to go early. All of it is back to normal somewhat. Other than that, I have been eating healthy and working out as well as connecting with online 3-Day Reset challenges to help myself and my followers lead a healthier lifestyle to boost our immune system during these times, in the vegan space of course.
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FM: You’re always in the studio creating new music, how many other songs do you have hidden in the archives that could be released soon?
M: [Laughs] There are so many songs I have in the archives and many of them can be released right now, but the business needs to be taken care of. They also need to be mixed and mastered, but I am going to be shutting down and dedicating this particular month of the year to complete the next studio album. So, I’m very excited about that.
FM: On September 11, you have a new song dropping. What can you tell us about that track?
M: On 9/11 I will be dropping an international dance single with Alyx Ander. It’s called “Without You,” and it’s on a dance label. I will be switching up the vibe a little bit and bringing the energy up before we go into the autumn and winter months.
FM: As you said, you are currently working on a new studio album. What is the main inspiration behind this one?
M: I’m not going to give away too many secrets. A long-lived life of 40 years that includes personal experiences, inspiration, healing, and honesty. It’s a very honest and a very different album for me. It’s timeless music, I’ll say that. And music that lives forever.
FM: Throughout your career, you have collaborated with some of the biggest names in music. Are there any features we can expect?
M: There may be. But I’m not exactly sure yet.
FM: “Lady Marmalade” is one of your most famous collaborations and became one of the most legendary female anthems of all time. When you were asked to be a part of the song, did you ever imagine how iconic it would become?
M: I don’t think that when you’re working on something as an artist and it’s moving so fast that you can have a clue. But when you start to see all of the components come together from the actual film production to how it sounds mixed and mastered, and then when you’re stepping into the rehearsals space and then fittings, and then the music video is being shot, and now we’re performing and receiving awards. It just happens, but we just do our best and put our best foot forward and hope for the best. We had no clue until Patti LaBelle walked into our rehearsal. *laughs* That’s when we knew we had something. It was obviously a hit before it was a hit for us.
FM: When recording the song, did you all record it together, or was everything done separately?
M: We recorded all the backgrounds in the studio together, but we recorded our leads at different times in different states in different studios.
FM: How was it working with Christina Aguilera, Pink, and Lil’ Kim because you were all individually very different as artists?
M: Oh yeah, they are all very different. It was amazing. We were already established individual artists, and we were young. We were still fairly new to the music industry and everything was new and exciting, but we were still established. For our labels to make something like that happen was a miracle because that’s an extensive production. Soundtracks back in that day were so major and taken so seriously with music videos to lead singles that they chose to lead the promotion of the film for the film. I don’t see too much of that happening anymore, but it was a major thing back then so to get the support from the film company, distribution company, and all our record labels simultaneously was a true operation behind the scenes and then the budget to add on top of it. It was awesome because those are rare moments that don’t happen frequently for those reasons.
FM: Next year, your version will celebrate its 20th anniversary. You recently said you were open to the idea of a mini reunion with the other ladies. How likely do you think that will happen?
M: Well, it depends on the state of the world. We could always do something virtually, which would be awesome. Something needs to happen! It would be great to see all the girls in one space and have a little fun and celebrate and sing. And please the fans because they’ve been asking for it.
FM: You’ve performed the song together quite a few times. The MTV Movie Awards was one of the most memorable performances you all did. It also won an MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. How amazing would it be if you reunited for their 2021 ceremony?
M: That would be so awesome! There have been so many great moments. Never forget.
FM: With the music industry being so much about streaming numbers and making playlists now, has this changed the way you write and approach a song?
M: No. That hasn’t ever changed how I write and approach a song because business has never really dictated that, when I’m an independent artist especially. I kind of just do it for me as therapy and then I don’t actually focus on radio play. I just focus on what the fans have been requesting from me and then my experiences on stage from what fans seem to resonate with. Of course, they want the hit records, they grew up with them, but I find that a lot of personal music where it’s stripped down and acoustic and they can actually hear the vocals, there is no dancing or costume changes, they get intimate with me or cry with me and connect. Those are some of the more important songs, and “Space and Time” is an example of that. I tend to take an approach in songwriting as a way of making people feel something.
Nowadays, as a mature artist and a mature woman who has lived life a little bit with ups and downs, that’s my approach first. Now, I might sneak a little radio swag approach on another record, but it’ll never end up on an album if it’s just a one-off single to shoot a cute video where I’m dancing up a storm because I love my fans so much and they just wanna see me dance. It’s nothing I want to invest my full time and energy into. The albums I take seriously, and it’s from the heart.
FM: You’re obviously your own boss now. Is there anything challenging about being an independent artist?
M: Heck yeah! Being an independent artist is 100 percent solely on you to fund everything but also negotiate everything. You have to provide all contracts, publishing, and uploading the metadata. That’s after you have actually recorded something, done the graphic design, and some of the visuals. You must coordinate everything. And then you have to build relationships and figure out who wants to work with you on the independent budget. So you have to align yourself with people who are interested, available, then interested in very little budget or an independent budget just to make the music happen.
The bigger producers I may have worked with in the past, they are consumed with major paying products and other opportunities so that can be challenging when trying to get hitmakers on your project, so you have to make sure your music is up to par. But there are also talented people as well that can do the exact same thing without the accolades and names. It’s more so about building your team, which can take years. And it’s definitely a challenge because not everyone wants to work with you when you’re not in the major label system because of the lack of budget and that’s fully understandable.
FM: With the new music, you are also releasing an audiobook. What can you tell fans about that project?
M: Well the audiobook is for my free vegan starter guide, which you can read right now. It’s a great tool for those wanting to know what veganism is and how they can do it and why they should do it. It is available via my website. However, reading isn’t for everyone and not quite a preference. I realized that audiobooks are what I use to multitask when I just wanna listen and get something else done like workouts at the same time. So, I am currently in the studio recording the audiobook for the free vegan starter guide right now.
FM: You have the perfect voice for it. I’m sure you’ve been told that multiple times.
M: *laughs* I’ve been told radio shows, podcasts, ASMR, narration all the time, which is beautiful. I love it.
FM: You’ve achieved a lot in your 20-plus year-long career. Is there anything you have yet to achieve or a field of work you would like to venture into?
M: I love production. I love songwriting, writing songs for themes and television. I love voice-overs. I just did a whole voice-over for an animal rights campaign last night. Narration. Within music, I love doing that. Live performances, you know that’s the ultimate experience. A live band from this point out is the expectation that I would like to see.
Outside of music, there are so many things. Especially in the health food space. I am cooking a lot right now so one of the new ventures that I have explored is doing virtual cooking sessions with my fans. I teach them how to cook and send them ingredients and supply lists in advance so they can cook with me, so I can teach them how to make small course vegan meals that are amazingly delicious, nutritious, and healthy. That’s been a fun place to play in, but there are so many other things I could be talking to you all day about.