Image credit: Trevor Ott
Mia Mormino is more than just a pop star in the making. Look a little closer, past the Los Angeles native’s massive pop anthems, 450k+ Spotify streams, and 5M+ Youtube views, and you’ll find what every artist hopes for but few ever achieve: authenticity. What cuts through most in Mia Mormino’s impossibly catchy and heartfelt music is a singular message of self-empowerment. It’s an easy theme for lesser artists to pantomime unconvincingly, but for this singer/songwriter/dancer, her difficult journey to get to that place of self-love is exactly what makes her message so genuine, and her music so compelling.
Mia’s first love was dance. From the age of three, she immersed herself in all styles, from pointe/ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz, contemporary, and lyrical. The physical and emotional thrill of dancing captivated Mia, so much so that she devoted the first 15 years of her life to performing in dance competitions across the country, winning first place in the overall soloist category at the Starbound Dance Competition in Long Beach, California her senior year of high school. However, the pressures of competitive dancing soon took their toll.
“The expectation to look a certain way a competitive dancer was a recipe for disaster when it came to my self-esteem,” Mia says. A natural-born singer, she had found another lifelong passion in music from an early age. To cope with her negative feelings that accompanied life as a competitive dancer– namely, depression fueled by an eating disorder and body dysmorphia– along with all the other stresses of being a teenager, Mia turned her focus more heavily to music. She found comfort in the deeper emotional outlet that writing and singing her own songs provided, and it wasn’t long before she decided to spend the rest of her life doing just that.
Mia took it upon herself to become the kind of artist she wished she had to look up to when she was younger: one who is an open book. Rather than shy away from the difficult themes that initially drew her to write songs, she embraces them wholeheartedly, inspired by the unapologetically soul-baring lyrics of untraditional pop stars like Billie Eilish. Her 2019 single “Ribs” fearlessly tackles this difficult chapter of her past head-on. “When I finally felt ready to put my struggles with my body on full display in my lyrics, it was terrifying,” she says. Soon, however, her honesty paid off. The response Mia received was overwhelmingly positive. “A lot of men and women opened up to me about their own struggles with body image,” she recalls. “Knowing my song helped give others a voice is the most special feeling I’ve ever felt.”
Mia’s vulnerability and unwillingness to shy away from controversial topics is undeniably one of the qualities that makes her such an important and relatable artist to her fans. Beyond the bravery that underpins her confessional songwriting style, it is also Mia’s unabashed exploration of an ever-widening array of genres and musical influences that further positions her as an artist whose name you ought to know.
The wide range of influences that have shaped Mia’s music can be discerned in her songs and explosive performance style. She still dances, and channels icons like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga in her highly stylized and expertly choreographed music videos, like the one for “WTF Is Going On,” which was featured on Billboard and has racked up 75k+ views on YouTube. Other songs like her latest single “Chatter,” which hits with the cinematic grandeur one might expect of a James Bond theme song, showcase the influence of Teyana Taylor and Ariana Grande on Mia’s R&B sensibilities and vocal prowess. The production she enlists across her releases are further evidence of Mia’s multi-dimensional sound, flitting from organic, acoustic arrangements to soaring pop tracks and club-ready EDM bangers with ease.
Mia’s versatility is given ample opportunity to flourish thanks to her prolificity as a songwriter. In 2020, a year that brought the world to a screeching halt, Mia’s songwriting was an unstoppable force. She released six singles last year and is already gearing up to release seven more in 2021. The collection, entitled The Seven Deadly Singles, marks an ambitious project for Mia, as she captures the essence of each deadly sin across seven genre-spanning songs. The first single, the lustful “Mile High Romance,” which has dropped on February 12th. This song weaves a fictional narrative about a romantic tryst on an airplane and finds Mia exploring concept-driven music for the first time, a freeing experience that reveals an artist further pushing the limits of her songwriting and sound. With six more sins to go and a whole lot more to come, be sure to keep your ear out for Mia Mormino.
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