Fresh off the road from supporting forces of nature Sleigh Bells, and still in a bit of a spin, Miya Folick is temporarily perplexed. Asked what on earth possessed her to pour two entire packets of gluten-free crisps over her own head, while rapt in the emotional aftermath of witnessing a Rihanna concert for the first time on a night off (it’s on her Instagram, fyi) Miya struggles to recall. “No that’s not something I usually do,” she deadpans, before hooting with laughter. “Rihanna was so amazing. I’d never seen her perform before, and she is just such a force. I was crying, because it was so beautiful. It made me really proud to be a woman.”
“I was surprised that was my reaction,” she adds, in something of an understatement. Then again, from wildly throwing around snacks in a weeping blur, to swerving each and every way with zero regard for convention nor genre, Miya Folick is hardly one to do things by the book. Becoming a musician by accident, Miya Folick originally set off for the bright lights of New York to study acting at NYU. Somewhere along the way, she lost interest and wound up cutting class in favour of long walks around the grid-like city instead; people-watching everywhere she went, turning her everyday ramblings and brief glimpses of other people’s stories into songs. Such freeze-frames pepper her ‘Strange Darling’ EP. One moment she’s grappling with the stresses of bumping into a “semi-stranger” at the grocery store, and the politics of whether or not they can ever become friends. The next, Miya’s off on a different tangent altogether, dropping any illusions of mystery, and letting her often humorous motives for songwriting peek around the stage curtain. “Maybe I will show you how well I can write a song,” she sings on ‘Strange Darling’, “That’s how the guys all get the ladies”. And throughout all of this, there’s no underpinning sound. Miya Folick is the kind of musician that can frog-hop from the raucous punkery of ‘Pet Body’ to the forlorn ‘Oceans’ without a second’s thought.
“I have very little reverence for genre, so I don’t really care if I make sense to people,” Miya laughs, less combative, and more stating the obvious. “If I like something, I try to incorporate it.”
“I don’t really care if I make sense to people.”
— Miya Folick
Miya sees her lyrical frankness – at times, almost as upfront as an deliberate aside wink to a side-of-stage camera – as inevitable. “I don’t want to ignore the fact that I’m writing a song,” she says. “I want everyone to know I wrote this song and it is a song,” she cackles, trying to articulate.“ I am acknowledging that with this piece of music, I sat down, I wrote and I have feelings about it. You might feel something too, but we both know that this is just a song,” she concludes.
Technically, Miya Folick released her debut EP, ‘Blue Whale’ three years ago; though today she’s typically open about wanting to distance herself from those first tentative experiments. Instead, she sees ‘Strange Darling’ as the real beginning of her vision, and the point at which she learned to put her foot down. “I wasn’t really happy with [‘Blue Whale’], and afterwards I was totally resolved to beef up, and to say no. It’s my project,” she figures. “There’s no point making something if I’m not making it the way I want it. I don’t wanna make music in a way that everyone has figured out already,” Miya finalises. “I’d rather figure it out myself.”
Beef up she did. Her recent single ‘Pet Body’ – by far Miya Folick’s brashest and best statement to date - started life while mucking about with some mates in the park. “We had a habit of meeting up and writing punk songs on acoustic guitars,” Miya remarks. Though it was far louder and more aggressive than anything else she’d done to date, she ended up adopting the song for her project. She seemed to break through into a whole new universe of possibilities, and now Miya Folick’s whole debut album is falling into place, too; scraps of paper and bursts of melody beginning to click into concrete shape. It’ll be out “hopefully early next year,” reckons Miya with a laugh, “but I’ve learned that everything happens more slowly than I want it to.”
Miya Folick, where do you frolic?
Around my neighbourhood. I live in downtown LA so you usually see me frolicking there. I'm not really frolicking though, just walking. If you want to see me frolic... there are some really nice hiking trails up in Malibu Canyon, and I think last time I was there I frolicked. I think frolicking requires a certain amount of joyful stepping, with energy. I did that. That was about two weeks ago. I try to get out into nature pretty often. It's been two weeks since I last frolicked, and I'm due for another.
Taken from the November 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.