Miesa is a pop/R&B artist who was in Miami for Swim Week. She was invited to perform at the Planet Fashion TV SwimMiami Kickoff Party at the W Hotel on July 16. I had the opportunity to talk to her before she headed over to the Lotus House to speak/listen to homeless women and children the day after the performance on July 17. We met at the Epic Hotel’s Area31 pool area where we discussed her Swim Week performance, how she loves helping people and the story behind new single “Blame My Ex”.
Hali Neal: How are you today?
Miesa Miesa: I’m doing good, thank you.
HN: So you did your performance last night [July 16]?
MM: [smiles] Yes I did.
HN: It went well I’m guessing?
MM: It went well, it was really good. It was a lot of models, nice fashion. The atmosphere was really nice. It was really humid but it was pretty good.
HN: That’s Miami for ya.
MM: Yes. It was closed in. It was really nice though. I had a good time.
HN: So you performed while the models were walking or…?
MM: No, actually just a little bit after. I had this segment where I perform. After they got down, then I performed.
HN: How did the opportunity to become a part of Swim Week come about?
MM: To be honest, I don’t know. I guess word gets around and networking and my amazing publicist over there [gestures to her publicist, Dennis, looking on from the corner] and like, creative director [laughs]. Yeah, so I think that’s why.
[notices my toenails, which are painted a lime green with a reddish hue when reflected in the sun].
MM: I like your nail polish.
HN: Thank you, yeah, it’s this nail salon by where I live [The Nail Room], they’re the only people.
MM: Where do you live?
HN: I live up by North Miami.
MM: Oh okay. So you’re a Miamian then?
HN: Yeah. The place is by where I used to go to school, so they do a really good job on nails. And this [the nail polish] is OPI.
MM: Where’d you go to school?
MM: [excitedly] FIU?! Heyyy FIU! [cheers]
HN: Oh, did you go to FIU also?
MM: No, but my family graduated from there. My cousin graduated from FIU and my other cousin graduated from FIU and she’s a nurse now. Well, actually, my aunt is a nurse and then, my cousin went for business.
HN: I actually graduated with a degree in public relations.
MM: [surprised] Really? Oh!
HN: Yeah, I just kinda got into journalism from doing a project actually for my PR degree.
MM: Oh really?
HN: I just started doing that after I graduated and I liked it.
MM: You said from your what degree?
HN: For public relations degree. I studied Communication, but.
MM: Oh, so it’s better you studied something specific.
HN: Yeah. I’m actually studying the music business [at the time of this interview, anyway].
MM: [excited] All right!
HN: Gonna eventually study journalism.
MM: Yeah. So that’s good. You can be an all-around… manager.
HN: [excited] Yeah, I’ve thought about that actually.
HN: You’ve said your music is confessional, would you consider your music therapeutic? Or would you consider music in general therapeutic?
MM: Music in general. Most of the time, when I’m relaxing or playing at the piano. ‘Cause the thing is, my family lives here [in Miami] and I’m back and forth a lot, I live in New Jersey so I had to get me a piano, like a little Yamaha piano and have that kinda practice. I love it. I grew up in a musical household so every morning waking up and hearing my dad. We’re a musical family so we’re always singing. So it’s natural for me to think of the piano as something that’s very therapeutic so it’s therapeutic, but it’s also part of what I do, so it’s good to have.
HN: Name one thing you want people to take away from your music.
MM: Hmmm. I think the realness of it. Only because there’s a lot of music out there—not saying it’s not good–but for me, ‘cause I love music so much, I grew up in a musical household – I want them to feel like, the music– the real musicality in the music—and also what I’m singing about. I don’t want to just be saying things, I want it to be real to every situation I’ve been through personally. Even when I’m performing, I want them to feel that—I want them to feel what I was feeling when I was singing the song.
HN: Would you consider yourself more of a singer-songwriter or like a pop act?
MM: A singer-songwriter moreso, but because my music is a blend of R&B and pop it kinda fits those hand in hand.
HN: I feel like with singer-songwriters, you’re freer to be more expressive–
HN: And have you want with your music and break down what you’re feeling and be able to connect with people and stuff.
MM: Yeah, see that’s the good thing about my music is because of that blend I still have that organic singer-songwriter type of freedom, but it’s also modern in that it still can go pop. You still get that same organic feel from it.
HN: With people that really love music, you can see that.
HN: You said your songs come a lot from real life experience, would you say your new single fit into that as well?
MM: Yes. My new single, it’s called “Blame My Ex”, it’s about a girl who gets into a relationship that doesn’t work out and she’s so traumatized and hurt from that relationship that it’s hard for her to move on. Even though it is about a relationship, it can be a parallel to anything. Maybe an experience you’ve had with the industry or anything. Blame that. That’s the reason why I have my wall up because I don’t want to get hurt from that situation again. It is about real life relationships and stuff. I like to say different things because it fits everything, you know?
HN: Yeah. I can relate to that.
MM: Yes. You can relate to that too?
HN: Well, yes. But I’m saying it can relate to a lot of different things, like it’s not just one thing.
MM: Right. Blame that. But yeah. You know, you grow wiser from that. You just learn how to be better.
HN: You started doing this at such a young age, do you have any advice for musicians who are starting out who are also around that age?
MM: I would say, keep going. Don’t give up. Work hard. Have faith. Study your craft. You can face your fears every day. And if you’re nervous about something, whether it’s to perform, just keep practicing and do it. Tackle it. Don’t give up. And make sure you stay positive. Always stay positive. Be careful who you keep around you, because you never know.
HN: Especially in this business.
MM: If you have a dream, just work hard and you’ll get it.
HN: You have a song you have on your iPod or your phone that people would be surprised that you have?
MM: Oh man, uh, Enya, “Sail Away”. Yeah. Or how about, you know what the thing is? Because I love music and I’m not just—even though there’s certain music that I’ll listen to on a daily basis. Of course I love gospel music and think it’s inspirational and I think the vocals are amazing, there’s different music that I like to listen to only because of the musicality inside of it. Those different sounds, those exotic sounds and what made that person think to use that instrument, and then, you know, your mind just goes somewhere else. So, I mean, some of the music I have on my playlist on there is kinda weird. You know this song comes out of nowhere and they’re like “what is this?”. Like, “oh sorry, that’s just from my personal playlist”.
HN: Oh, I don’t even apologize. I have lots of weird music on my playlist.
MM: [excitedly] Yeah! You need it, especially as a musician. It’s like “ooh, I like that!” I need to pick from different things and it makes me excited so that when I do go into session to help produce something or we’re writing something, I cab go “ooh I want this chord” or “I want to sing this note in this key” so that’s why I have like weird stuff in there. Well to me it’s not weird, but–
HN: To most other people. Yeah I know. I know it’s a different genre, but with metal music. Like in my experience, the kind with screaming with people [who listen to it for the first time], they get this face, they get horrified. It’s just funny to me.
MM: Yeah. It’s your own personal thing. Like, I have The Eagles in there. I have Chicago. Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Paramore. Just a lot. Different music.
HN: What would you say is your favorite “weird” song that you have?
MM: Hmmm. Favorite weird song that I have? Actually there is one that I just downloaded on one of the apps that I have. I forgot what it is, it was shot by a commercial, but it’s just harmonies. And it’s actually all over the country for I guess iPhone and it’s just like [sings] “oooh”. It’s like just harmonies, harmonies. I’ll give you the name of it so you can listen to it. You have to listen to it. It’s weird. To think like, wow. I think it’s the girl who actually uses her voice to make the music?
HN: Like a cappella?
MM: Yeah, it’s just a cappella, but she layers her voice using different tones and keys to make the beat.
HN: Oh yeah, those are the people who have serious talent.
HN: It’s really hard to sing without instruments. I had to do that in one of my classes and I was like “how do people do this?”
MM: Yeah, you really have to—
HN: You have to hear it very well.
MM: You have to hear it. That’s why I thank God that I was blessed with that ear.
MM: ‘Cause I feel it.
HN: I mean I’m a drummer. I just started playing drums–.
MM: [excitedly] My brother’s a drummer! I need to hook you guys up. Have you ever heard of Strike?
MM: He travels a lot. They tour.
HN: [sheepish] I mean I just started playing drums, I don’t know if I’m at the level yet [laughs].
MM: [excited] Oh wow. That’s so cool. He just performed with me yesterday. He’s an amazing musician. He can play acoustic guitar, so yeah.
HN: So I heard that you have a nonprofit organization too?
MM: Yes, I’m working on that. You know, I’m still working on the politics and the official, you know saying that, this is the official nonprofit. In the meantime, while that’s being worked on. It’s for the kids of Haiti. ‘Cause my mom’s from Haiti and my dad’s from Haiti, I like to go and help these little kids because they have nothing. It’s really—
HN: Lots of corruption and stuff that was supposed to go on and then didn’t.
MM: Right. Exactly. So we send toys over there, food. I had somebody record it, they had food, they had toys, they had a little DJ. They were playing music. Oh my gosh. I love it and I love doing stuff like that. It feels amazing. ‘Cause you know, it’s not saying to take them home with you and sponsor them and I’m like “no, I don’t want to do that, because I want to help all of them”.
HN: Plus you don’t know where that money is going.
MM: Exactly, that’s my point. So if I can help everyone, I can send them food. And the thing is my aunt is involved ‘cause she actually lives in this place where they get schooled and they get a little food if they can. So I send everything there with her and she makes sure—she videotapes—pictures to show what exactly they do. And actually probably this year, I’m going to Haiti to stay there and help with the kids and help them and show them “we’re here to help, you know whatever we can do”. Get an education. Get that and maybe you can help somebody else. I love, love, love, love helping kids. I want to introduce them to music and you just never know—you never know who’s listening, where you could be, where you could use that talent. You could take two seconds your life changes. After God blesses them, they can go back and help somebody else.
HN: You said you do producing, what other instruments do you play besides…?
MM: Oh, the piano, and I used to be able to play the clarinet. And I’m actually taking lessons right now for piano, ‘cause you know when you’re younger it’s just—
HN: Very simple.
MM: We would literally keep the piano teacher waiting for like 30 minutes, like “okay, who’s next?” and [imitates kids rolling eyes] but now it’s like “man!”
HN: I wish I’d paid attention more?
MM: Yeah! That’s why, right now, I’m taking it really serious.
HN: ‘Cause now you have a reason to.
MM: Exactly. Like, “man if I would have just…” Now I can get that lesson.
HN: What’s one non-musical thing you’d want people to know about you? Or more than one thing?
MM: I love to paint, even though I’m not the best at it, but it’s just like cooking. Like you know, I’m not the best at cooking but I know what I want to make.
HN: You have a favorite dish or have you painted anything that [you’d want to share]?
MM: Yes, actually.
HN: Is it posted somewhere?
MM: No, I haven’t posted it yet because I’m not finished. I’m still working on it. I feel like when I’m painting, I have to have the time and the freedom, you know? Because I feel like when I’m forcing it, it doesn’t come out right.
HN: Same thing with writing.
HN: Like, if I’m too stressed out, the words don’t come.
MM: Yeah, it feels forced. I want it to come naturally. I want to feel free and just relaxed. I have that, and also I don’t know, most of my hobbies surround music. It’s weird. That’s who I am. That’s how I was raised. In our free time, we were at the piano singing. Either in church or my father’s at the piano and it’s “c’mon let’s sing a song” and we’re like “oooh oooh oooh!” It’s so fun. We loved music like that. We were born into it. That’s our bonding time around the piano. Like “ooh, do this!” That’s fun to us, that’s fun to me. So weird.
HN: Musical family makes actually more sense than non-musical family like me.
MM: Well that’s good that you’re doing that. You never know. You tap into areas of your mind and your creative brain.
HN: Especially in regards to drums. Drums and singing seem completely different.
MM: My friend actually does that. When we had a band, I was singing. I’m like [to her friend] “you have to sing that part” so then he’s playing the drums and he’s doing the harmonies. The thing is, my uncle does the same thing. Like he harmonizes and then he used to harmonize my father performing. And he’s rapping. I feel like you can do anything with music. Music is just a liquid form. You can make it into any shape that you want as long as you allow yourself to do that.
HN: Is there anything else you want to add?
MM: [seeming unsure] No… Maybe just follow me on Instagram and look me up on Twitter and social media, which is meisamusic for everything. And then, what else? For you? You can come hang with us! [laughs]
DG: [from a distance] The Blame My Ex video!
MM: Oh, I’m sorry! The “Blame My Ex” video is coming out soon and it’s finishing up the last touches, so that’s exciting. Anything else you want to ask me?!
HN: I think that’s all the questions I had, let me see if I missed any.
MM: You have really nice feet, by the way!
HN: Thank you! I don’t like wearing shoes [I was wearing strappy flats at the time of the interview] so I always try [to have my nails done, etc]. [all this talk of shoes/feet has me noticing that Meisa’s wearing some nice ones] Are you guys going somewhere?
MM: Yeah, we’re headed to a women’s shelter actually. Lotus House.
HN: Ohhh. I’ve heard of that actually.
DG: We’re going to go speak with the ladies and take them some supplies.
HN: Yeah, a couple of organizations around here have done service projects with them [in conjunction with the college].
MM: Yeah, that’s such a good feeling. That’s my thing. I love helping others. Like, I don’t care about shopping, I don’t care about all this. And [on the topic of Lotus House] I want to bring them things. I just want them to see that there’s more to what they’re experiencing. It’s just a temporary storm. If you could just stay positive and stay faithful and know that’s it gonna be okay. You’re gonna get out of it. You’re gonna be okay. Yeah. I’m just excited. It’s beautiful out here. I’m happy to be here. That’s it. Anything else? We could sit here all day and talk [laughs].
HN: [laughs] And your publicist is like “no, we have to go to this event and this event”.
MM: Thank you so much, it was nice meeting you. Good luck with your drums. If you ever need any help, my little brother lives in Miami.