theaussieword.com catches up with Canadian artist Mieke.
Tell us how it all started. What had you first interested in music?
I grew up playing classical music (piano, violin, trombone, etc) and singing traditional European songs that they sang at my church.I loved music but really didn’t like all the rules, that I always had to play “andante” when the composition said so, or when I was asked to sing more quietly or reverently or whatever. I would sing all the time around the house, making up songs about my stuffed animals and what I did at school and recording them on tapes. And that’s what I fell in love with- the fact that I could make my own rules and create songs about my life. I have new appreciation for classical training lately and started doing scales again (the very stuff I used to hate), but for me music was most meaningful because I was able to grow up with a way of expressing myself- music consistently came through for me when life felt like too much.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
To be honest my primary motivation is selfish; writing songs and making music helps me figure out who I am and is really fun for me. I consistently find songs I’m writing tell me things I’ve been trying to ignore- they talk back to me and challenge me. Now that other people are part of this very private process, that influences me too. I would love for other people to connect to or find solace in my songs. I have a great community of artists here in Toronto and making music with them is so fun and challenges me constantly.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
Practically, I would like to have a sustainable career- to make music always, and for it to become continually more engaging and powerful and true to what I feel led to do. I have specific goals per year/month/etc, like people I dream of writing with or stages I would love to perform on but I think I want to keep those secret for now until they happen!
Success, what is the secret to it?
For me, it’s listening to your intuition, finding peace in your soul about who you are and trusting what you feel sure of. Overall I’d say I am successful if I don’t let fear dictate my actions. I want to be led by passion and love instead. Practically, hard work and relentless passion are essential.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Honestly my biggest highlight moments are the little things. A woman in New York stopped me on the sidewalk right after my EP came out and told me she’d heard it on Soundcloud, and we talked for a long time about what hearing this one song meant for her life. I’d felt so alone when I wrote it. Of course I’d like to be successful in a commercial sense, but I’d trade that moment for money in a second. I have a collection of interactions like that and I think of them when I forget how valuable music is.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I think Lykke Li is really thoughtful about how she releases music, in every aspect. Grimes is someone else I have a lot of respect for. In terms of production, I like Dev Hynes for the way his production is inventive and exciting but honours the song and the message of it. Also Laura Marling, Cass McCombs, Frank Ocean, Fiona Apple. Lots more.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
This year, I’ll release another EP and rethink my live set and look towards touring and a full length album! I am going to focus on the music, and try to make that better and better. Eventually I’ll look up and then I’ll see myself wherever I have ended up! Haha.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I love that people all around the world can hear my music even though it’s self-released. That brings me a lot of joy. I constantly check myself to make sure my focus is on my music, and not on social media or numbers because that can be tempting.
Overall looking at the big machine, I’m interested to see what happens with streaming/radio/royalties of that nature. I think the shift is good overall in exposure and what it means for touring, but often streaming money is still going to the labels without the artist having a good sense of what revenue their project is creating. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I hope there are ways for artists to make money from what they create, because culturally continually shows us how valuable art is and artists consistently struggle to balance financially.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
I think Canadians especially love Australian artists. Is that a thing? Or just me? Anyway some of my favourite Aussie bands I found because they toured with Canadian bands I love. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is hands down my favourite show I went to last year at Williamsburg Music Hall. My mind was blown. Tame Impala, Sia, Chet Faker, I bet there’s many more I love and just don’t realize they’re Australian! Please tell me all the cool new up and coming Australian artists- I’d love to hear!
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
My first EP helped me sort out what sounds I love and what I want to do. So making another recording is happening now and I’m excited for that. After the new release comes out this year, yes! Lots of touring, all the time.
Tell us a bit about your latest record, how would you best describe your music?
I had a giant collection of songs, all these pieces from years of playing shows and writing. This first project was me picking 4 songs from different times in my life and exploring them. Sleeping Alone is the newest and was about me loving myself again, Moving On is a love song for one of my oldest friends, Magnolia is me grappling with losing my religion and finding God in the process, and Vulture was about demanding respect. They’re songs I write and I sing them and play the piano.
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today?
Come visit Toronto! The music scene here is amazing right now, so many new artists who are mind blowingly good. It’s a cool time for Canadian music I think. Also I hope you find joy in the little things in your day.