LA native Mia drives the EP with her ethereal voice, as well as her impossibly catchy, heartfelt and confessional songwriting style, along with Karo’s seamless production skills.
Throughout an epic and cinematic feel is created by the addition of live strings recorded in Poland and a choir recorded in London.
We spoke to Mia and Karo about their latest EP Now I Rise, sharing insights into their creative process, how they collaborated with our production team in London and discussed their favourite soundtracks. Check out the interview below and stream the album now.
Tell us about yourself and how you started your journey to making music?
Growing up, I was a competitive dancer, involved in all the school talent shows, choir, musicals, etc. There was nothing that brought me more joy than being on stage performing, and at a very young age, I knew that my life from that point on would consist of doing just that.
Dancing competitively took the front seat of my creative endeavours from the ages of eight to eighteen, but once I started experiencing the not-so-fun parts of growing up (bad relationships, self-realisations, etc.), I felt I needed a stronger outlet to release what I was experiencing. So, I wrote my first song, “Conflicted,” at the age of sixteen and never looked back. Fast forward seven years later, and here I am, being interviewed for the creation of my first album!
As a kid, my parents took me to piano and guitar lessons here and there, and I hated it. I wasn’t interested in it until I received a copy of the program Fruity Loops (now called FL Studio) as a young teen. There, I was introduced to the concept of creating music which I really enjoyed, I mostly just did it for fun. I put some of my beats up online as Ak Beats, and one of my beats, a violin hip-hop instrumental, went viral.
From there, I dug deeper and got more involved in making beats and creating songs. I started to play the piano again, bought a guitar and haven’t looked back since.
Where did the concept for ‘Now I Rise’ come from? Were you inspired by anything in particular?
The concept for Now I Rise actually started from a song Mia and I did called ;Joan of Arc’, which she released. A&R at West One Music, Adam Stokes, heard the single and asked if we would be interested in doing an album of similar type songs for their Little Assembly label. We agreed and from there started to create the vision for the album. We wanted it to be very grand and have songs with hard-hitting percussive elements that would work great in cinematic scenes and trailers. But we also wanted songs that were more heartfelt and conveyed sentimental emotions. In the end, I feel like we achieved a nice mix of both.
As Karo mentioned, my single ‘Joan of Arc’ (also produced by Karo) is what really jump-started this process. “Joan of Arc” is a cinematic track discussing the journey of overcoming obstacles and fighting for what you believe in…a relatable but often difficult topic to express through song. We were thrilled that Adam took such a liking to it enough to invite us to create our first album together. This experience is a prime example that everything happens for a reason and I’m so grateful we’ve been led to the creation and completion of Now I Rise because of it.
Can you describe your writing process and how you worked together to create this EP?
Oddly enough, the theme of this EP is how I would describe the process we went through to create it. There were obstacles that put our patience, problem-solving and artistic visions to the test, but with perseverance and trust we triumphantly made it out to the other side. In my everyday life speaking up for myself is quite a challenge (but thanks to therapy, and lots of it, I’m getting stronger in that area).
So, when it comes to writing music all fears and hesitation to stand up for myself are dropped. It’s my way of saying exactly how I feel when I feel it, without any worry about what people might think. Creating an entire EP that highlights the power of authenticity was incredibly healing and fulfilling. It also helps to have a partner as incredible as Karo. Without him, Now I Rise truly wouldn’t be what it is and there’s no one else I’d rather construct this masterpiece with than him.
Usually, the way we work is I will come up with some parts on the piano or have a cool synth loop going, then Mia will start writing some melody ideas or some lyrics/concepts. Sometimes we’ll record scratch vocals and choose which parts we like together and then Mia will write to it. Other times, Mia will have written an entire song with a hook, 2 verses, a bridge and an outro, and it’ll be my job to give feedback and help build the parts around it.
What I love is that it really is a collaborative effort. I’m usually working on the production, but she contributes to the music from time to time and writes a part here and there. Also, I might come up with a lyric or we’ll come up with a concept together. We have a good mutual understanding, and we work on songs until we are both completely satisfied with all the parts.
How have you found the experience of working with us to make this concept a reality?
We had a great experience working with West One Music on this! We could not have had a better A&R and rep in Adam Stokes to give us feedback and help with the entire process along the way. Also, Nathan Hilton was great in not only transcribing the string and choir parts for the album but also leading the recording sessions with the musicians. They even let us listen in through Zoom, which was cool. We’re thankful to the whole team at West One Music for helping out on this.
We. Love. West. One. Music. This company is the epitome of professionalism, and we are honoured to have been supported so heavily by people of this nature. Let’s face it, some of the time, the process of collaboration can lead to ruffled feathers and conflict of interest/vision…but not with West One Music.
Not to mention we are based in Los Angeles, and the division we were working with is primarily based in the UK! Every email exchanged, zoom meeting joined and phone call discussed was the most pleasant experience imaginable. The idea of producing an entire album can be a bit scary, especially if you’ve never done it, but West One Music was truly with us every step of the way.
What is your favourite movie or tv show soundtrack?
I loved movie soundtracks as a kid. I would even tell my parents to let me watch the end credits of movies so I could hear the music! Not sure if I can pick one, but some of my favourites are the Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings soundtracks. I also really enjoyed the Stranger Things soundtrack more recently.
That is a tough question. There are so many soundtracks that have inspired me within my own work and life in general that it’s hard to only choose one! But the first one that comes to mind is the soundtrack for HBO’s series, Euphoria. Prior to Euphoria, Labrinth has always blown me away with his ability to step outside of the box when it comes to music production and lyricism. But after hearing/watching Euphoria (season one in particular), my admiration and respect for him tripled. He is one-of-a-kind, and I’d love to collaborate with him someday!
You can listen to Mia’s new EP ‘Now I Rise’ across all major streaming platforms here. All tracks are available to license worldwide now, just search for the EP on our catalogue or get in touch with our Sales/Creative team who can help you out with your music search.