Photo: Chris Noltekuhlmann & Florian Brandl

Introducing: UNA MIA

Toronto-born, Belleville-raised alt-R&B/pop singer UNA MIA may have only made her music debut less than a year ago, but she’s already making waves.

Fresh out the gate, MIA premiered her first single “Lose You” on a prestigious level with a COLORSxSTUDIO performance that showcased her profound vocals. Since then, she has been building a following with more releases and a string of live shows. Her debut EP, AIRBORNE, scheduled to be released on June 28th, is a 7-track body of work detailing her coming-of-age journey that looks back on the past while anticipating an exciting future ahead.

In our Introducing feature, EUPHORIA. gets to know the rising hopeful a little better as she prepares to release her first EP.

Let’s take it back to the beginning, when did you discover you had musical talents?

I believe I discovered my musical talent while taking classical voice lessons when I was around eight years old. I remember my voice teacher at the time signing me up for a local recital. I was so shy but decided to do it anyway. I sang this really pretty ballad from a musical and I just remember seeing my parents looking so shocked because I truthfully don’t think they’ve ever heard me perform before that point. I started doing a lot more recitals after that.

Who were your early influences growing up?

My early influences growing up include Etta James, Beyonce, and Justin Timberlake. I feel like they each sound so soulful and captivating in their own unique ways.

You debuted last year with ”Lose You,” which had its own COLORSxSTUDIOS performance. If you had to describe what color your music so far represents, what would it be and why?

If I had to pick a color that represents my music best, I’d choose sky blue. I think it’s a rich color full of depth and calm at the same time. Although I feel I have a core sound, my pallet is nevertheless flexible and can change hues with its variety.

You recently performed your own show at The Lower Third in London and at The Great Escape in Brighton. How was the experience?

The experience of performing in London and Brighton felt great because both gave me the opportunity to strengthen my skills as a performer. The shows were intimate and it was really fun singing unreleased music for a new crowd of people. Every time I perform, I honestly feel like I’m nurturing my inner child because I get to play and feel free. Connecting with my audience always makes me feel more connected to myself for some reason.

You state at the beginning of the music video of your new single “Move On” that the song is about letting go. Have you found that it’s easier to write songs about heartbreak and relationships?

When it comes to writing songs about heartbreak and relationships, sometimes it’s easy and other times it can be hard. It really depends on what I’m writing about. If it’s more difficult to confront the emotion or find the right words for it, the process will probably take longer. But at the same time – if I feel like I have a great understanding of the situation in my head, the song can write itself with ease.

Your debut EP, AIRBORNE, is expected to follow shortly after. How long have you been working on this project? 

I’ve been working on my debut EP, AIRBORNE, over the past four years. I truly believe that artistic development goes hand in hand with personal development. Throughout that time, I went through a lot of growth. I had to let go of negative beliefs and attachments to completely reinvent myself in the most empowering way.

What else can listeners expect from the project? You’re not afraid to get in your feelings!

What listeners can expect from the project is the general theme of being your own hero and finding your own sense of self. As a young woman navigating her early twenties, it feels like you’re always in the bumpy search of fulfilling your purpose and trying to make the best decisions. I had to let go of people-pleasing and the fear of being judged for following my dreams. I definitely embrace subjects like having faith, reflection, embracing self-love, and letting go. This project represents me taking flight in my life and allowing myself to be seen.

How do you go about your writing process? Do you have a particular formula that works for you?

A formula for writing that has been working well for me is free-styling melodies over a beat made from scratch, and then adding the lyrics based on the vibe of it or anything that might stand out from the melodies. Typically, I work with my producer, Ty Léon, and co-writer/engineer, Jhyve, when creating a lot of my music.

As you continue to build a live following, who would you love to support on tour if any opportunity was possible? 

I would love to support either SZA or Brent Faiyaz on tour if the opportunity presents itself. They both heavily influence me as an alt-R&B Pop artist. I’d be honored to be an opener for their show and I’m sure it would be an amazing experience!

What are you manifesting for 2024?

In 2024, I’m manifesting one of my songs as a sensational hit, an amazing co-sign from an artist I love, becoming an excellent performer, and an abundance of joy!