The many faces, facets, and philosophy of Miya Folick, her music, her mind, and her magic.
Miya Folick is by far one of the most enigmatic musicians I have seen in years. She is something out of a spy film, able to change her entire persona, look, and appearance to where you really would not know it was the same person. Her music is no different, a chameleon in itself that will give you something wonderful to listen to, and when you think you just might have it, you just might, BUT, probably not on the next song. She can present an idea to you, in one physical idea, because it’s easier for the listener to grasp it that way, but the depth to it all really is not anything you can absorb in one, or even ten times through. Just enjoy it and let her music take you where it wants to, because she will change it all out from one song to the next, and her videos will clearly show that.
I knew Miya was dating K.Flay (Kristine) when I went to interview K.Flay at LOVELOUD, but I honestly did not recognize Miya in person. She introduced herself to me a short time after I interviewed her partner, and I was embarrassed that I didn’t know it was her. Yeah, laughs about that, she said she wasn’t offended.
Getting ready for her tour with Bishop Briggs, there is no end to the excitement I have for this tour. If it sounds like I am like a kid in the candy store over this tour, go listen to both artists, and you will understand why.
After Miya’s totally rocking performance at LOVELOUD, I just had to interview her, I hope you enjoy getting to know her.
Jeremy Hinks: So, after meeting you in K.Flay’s trailer at LOVELOUD, I don’t know if you got to see the review of the concert Instinct published, but I called you one of the biggest surprises of the whole festival, and told everyone to give your music a spin.
Miya Folick: Oh that’s very sweet, I didn’t see that. I mean, I get so many emails with links, I don’t read everything because there is so much out there, I’ll have to go back and take a look. I sometimes don’t want to KNOW what people have written about to me. (laughing)
Well, I said that everyone needs to give you a spin, because of your performance. I mean, just you and the guitar and it blew my mind. It was one of the highlights of the entire day for me. I knew several songs, but with just the two, that warranted you doing an entire set, with a full band. That has set my excitement and expectations to see your tour later this fall. I know you had shifted some dates around to be on the road with Bishop Briggs now, so, that’s even going to be more exciting to see. (I can’t tell you how exited I am for this show everyone. As a live music junkie, this is going to probably go down as a historical gig, like The Who, and Led Zeppelin on the same ticket kind of historical).
Now that I got all of that out of the way, and that I’ll mention that you are K.Flay’s girlfriend, who is wonderful and one hell of a performer. I would like to talk about more interesting things about you.
(Laughing) Well, it is the most interesting thing about me, or at least the most important thing to me.
Ok, and she was great, her performance at LOVELOUD was phenomenal, she rocked it, as I was expecting to, but, for the 2nd stage, you stole the show. But you are also both two very different styles of musicians, it clashes, and I love you both musically.
Oh yeah Kristine always delivers.
Yes, she does, and you did too (Again, I can’t tell you how great Miya is on stage, you just need to go see her perform). Anyway, getting right into it, “Premonitions” album from late last year, and you just released the single “Malibu Barbie”. (watch the video, that’s all I can say) Here is my take on it, I LOVED the music, the layered vocals were fantastic, very lush, and there was the really fun bass line, that was easy to follow. Then your voice took over, and I’m a bassist, not really an excellent one, but I was following the bass line, then suddenly I’m moved by your voice, and made me forget where I was supposed to be in the song, and that was pretty impressive. So, the video was really fun to watch, I’m colorblind, so I saw there was a lot of the color red, but it seemed almost “TOO” red, like, hair dye, or blood, or beets? And then there you are with the latex gloves, and then I’m wondering “who is the dead body on the floor”?
That is actually for the viewer to decide, but Ariel (the director) and I, we definitely like to keep things ambiguous. She also directed the video for my song “Dead Body”, so you go back and watch that video, I think you might be able to glean something from that, I think. We did mean for it to mean, not necessarily a “Sequel” to, but more a partner video. It’s whatever I need to kill in my life, or whatever YOU need to kill in your life, it’s not necessarily a person, it’s an idea.
I remember the “Dead Body” video, and you were sitting there peeling apples. Your videos are very ambiguous, but your videos kind of take you in a lot of different directions. (I had to go back and watch “Dead Body” again, now I get it). I could see that “Malibu Barbie” wasn’t trying to be gruesome. I saw it as possibly a hungover houseguest who passed out on the floor, and you are cleaning the house, thus the latex gloves, and you are playing with the turtle. (Again, you just need to see this video). That one sounded really different from your live set. What I am getting at is that you jump from style to style, or vibe to vibe, it’s always interesting with each song, ‘cause, I can’t play one song and say “Hey that’s Miya Folick” ‘cause, they are all that different. For example, that one was a different, darker vibe than “Stop Talking”, tell us about that one, I mean you shift really well between vibe, and even instrumental sound, which I think is fascinating, it promises that your albums will never get boring.
For me, Premonitions was my first “Album” I had put out two E.P.s, I started playing music in my 20s, which is unusual, most people start playing music when they are twelve, and by the time they are fifteen, they have been in eight bands. So I do think what I was doing on my first album was… having a high school experience, thinking “I want to be in a punk band” or “I wanna make dance music”, “ I wanna be in a Fleetwood Mac style band”, “I want to sound like the Talking Heads”.
YES, you are mentioning the greats there, I hear a lot of that in there, but then I also hear a lot of Florence + The Machine in your work as well.
See, I get people saying that a lot, and I NEVER listened much to her music. But it seems I have the taste in music of someone like… thirty years older than me. But, I am definitely moving toward a more “cohesive” sound, and I think there was a part of me on Premonitions that was just … rebelling against this idea in the music industry, that I think is less prevalent now, but that you have to have a very specific sound, and you have to be someone very specific, and I don’t want to do that. Why do I have to do that? So, you can sell me better? So, I just went against that idea.
Sure, which was great for me and my ADHD, I could type in your name on Spotify or YouTube and say “What’s on the menu today” and it was going to be a surprise, always good, just take it as it comes.
There are people in the industry that say, “ I just don’t get her, I just don’t get it.” And I think those people are too narrow, and have been too indoctrinated, to think that in this industry, things need to be packaged and sold. And I have seen a lot of my fellow musicians have used this genre bending approach to making music, and I worked with those ideas. That said, my new album you will probably find to be a lot less “dynamic” in that way. No less dynamic emotionally, just that it will be more cohesive in terms of style. …. I think I got it out of my system. Yeah, I think I graduated from high school.
(laughing) Well, I was listening to Fleetwood Mac, AND the Talking Heads in high school, so.. I guess tells you how old I am. But I hope you don’t totally steer from that, but keep the variety of sound. I mean, if you look at Depeche Mode, their last several albums have all sounded the exact same. Its good, but you know it’s along the “formula” and is a good record, but it’s nothing really “NEW” sounding.
Well, I will never make an album with every song that sounds the same, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for me. If I tried, I couldn’t do it. The album will have sad songs, happy songs, aggressive angry songs. I feel like there are so many instruments on Premonitions, that this new album is going to be simple, just bass, drums, guitar.
For the review of you on LOVELOUD, I put up the video of “Cost Your Love”. Like you said a minute ago, the new album is going to have an emotional dynamic to it. I was going to make this point, you are really good at putting the emotion into the song with your voice, not just with the lyrics. I loved how the anxiety and feeling in your voice really just took over what I was focusing on, and just FELT what you wanted to deliver. So, I’m saying I guess, what was the driving force behind that song.
Well, thank you…
Well, I really want to know, I hope you like that song as much as I do, cause it’s a total winner, and that’s one posted in the review of LOVELOUD I liked it that much.
Well, I do like that song, that was the first song I wrote with Justin (her musical collaborator) and he produced it. The song just came together really easily I think initially, it was just that guitar line that comes in the verse, was actually the whole song. Now there is different chords, and the pre chorus, it was just that one line. That one was interesting, because when I was writing it, it wasn’t really about anybody, or a romantic love, it was more about me wanting to be a better person, and stop doing stupid shit.
Ok, but there as this real clear feeling of anxiety in that, and it was well done.
Well, most people’s reaction to that song was that it was about a bad relationship, and that wasn’t even the point. And I do think it’s often kind of cool to “personify” that anxiety. Because in music, it’s easier to sing about “people” than it is about “feelings” . On Premonitions, the songs the lyrics are very specific, and in a way kind of obscure, and in a way that was intentional for people to interpret them how THEY needed to for THEIR lives. So, for me that song is about something completely different than it is for people listening to it. And I think that’s cool that people can use the song however they want to.
Right, going back to “Malibu Barbie”, you used so many images in that to put so many things out there, aside from playing with a really cute little turtle. I actually had a little guy just like him when I was eleven years old. So, maybe that was my favorite part of the video, but, the gloves could have been just cleaning the house, or just died your hair that color red, or, you are cleaning up the mess of that dead body in your living room. (Having gone back now, and watched the videos again, I still am sure that the body was just a hungover houseguest that she really does not want to clean up after… but, go watch for yourself).
Yeah, my best friend growing up, had two little turtles, like that.
So, in a bio piece I read about you, it said you wrote your music in an “old wooden closet”, which I think is funny because you are clearly NOT in the closet, was that for the acoustics?
Yeah, there is some confusion about that, when I started writing music it was in an old wooden closet, but no, I wrote “Malibu Barbie” in a studio. But when I started out writing music, I was living in this big Victorian house in west Los Angeles, and they are all rented out by students, and in this house were seven people, and I was one of them. The room I was renting had this big walk in wooden closet and I would go in and play in there, because it sounded really nice, and there was where I literally was spending all this time making music.
So, were you out by then? When did you realize? When did you come out? I can see that with a lot of ambiguity about sexuality in your music, you are not really putting it in one direction or another.
In college I was dating a man, I had questions about my sexuality since I was a kid. And this guy was nice, and I was doing my thing. I wasn’t tortured, I wasn’t thinking “How do I get out of this?” So, I broke up with him, thinking “Yeah, I probably should start dating women”. So when I graduated, I moved to Echo Park, which is the sort of “Cultural Center” of Los Angeles, and there are so many musicians, so many film makers, so many artists live in Echo Park, and Silver Lake in the surrounding areas. So, I moved to this area, and I was suddenly interacting with more people who were, more fluid in their sexuality than there were at USC, the college I went to, where I was not involved in the queer community at all. So, when I moved to that part of L.A. it became so much easier to be what you needed to be, and who you needed to be, and to explore in any that you needed or wanted to. So, I feel like I never really had to “come out” here in LA, within this artists community. I just decided that I think I wanted to try dating women, and that’s what I did. I did kind of had to come out to my parents, because I was dating Kristine (K.Flay) and I knew that was going to be addressed.
Yeah, you would think that’s going public really quick.
Yeah, this is the person that I’m not going to be able to hide, and not that I would want her to hide, and I want her to know my family, so, I have to tell them. (laughing)
So, you got out there, to be who you are without any threat, or disappointment to anyone’s expectations of you. So, you were at LOVEOUD, bringing this message of loving yourself, acceptance of others, and to bring an end to the LGBTQ suicides in Utah, and just everywhere, so, for that you have my undying respect.
I ask everyone this question. What would you tell that young kid, that is in the closet, that is afraid, looking for hope, or ideas, that is in that vulnerable state?
This is something Kristine and I have talked a lot about. My personal message, I would want everyone to know that they are not alone, and there are communities of people out there in the world that will welcome you, and love you. I don’t know what it’s like to be part of a family that is dangerous, or to be afraid to come out. My family were completely accepting immediately when I came out. It was an adjustment, and they were a little uncomfortable at first, but I was an adult, I had my own life separate from them, so there was no fear of me being kicked out, I wasn’t going to be abused. But, for those kids, I will say that there are whole communities, whole cities where it is safe, and totally normal to be gay, and if you live in a community where it is not like that, it is possible for you to leave and find a good place. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THAT.
Well, I’m a local in Salt Lake, and so my hat is off to you, and everyone who was willing to take the stage like you did. Your message, your performance, again, did I mention how excited I am to see you play live in November with Bishop Briggs? (If I haven’t, I think I should let you all know, this tour is going to be UNREAL AWESOME)
Well, thank you, it was an honor to take part in it, and yes, it’s going to be an awesome show.
I am looking forward to that, and thanks for your time.
About the Author: Jeremy Hinks
An indie GONZO music journalist in Salt Lake City, and an Anarchist behind the Zion Curtain. Jeremy Hinks is an obnoxious Type-A Male, who is embarrassingly straight and a staunch LGBTQ Ally with little tact, and a big heart. He has supported his LGBTQ friends since he was a teenager.
He has photographed on multiple tours U2, The English Beat, Peter Hook & The Light, and is somehow making a name for himself photographing Pink Floyd Tribute bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Britfloyd, Dead Floyd. He is one of the photographers for the LOVELOUD Foundation in Utah, an organization to bring awareness and support for the young LGBT community in Utah, and to bring an end to the epidemic of suicides there.
He also drives a Vespa, and wears kilts, is rarely seen wearing pants, should be considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach without extreme caution.