“I’m definitely a little bit messy,” LA-based singer and songwriter Miya Folick admits. “Not in my home,” she’s quick to clarify, “I’m just messy as a person, it’s a bit chaotic in here.” This is the sort of sentiment Miya has brought to her sophomore release, ROACH. The album follows up her critically acclaimed 2018 debut, Premonitions. In the five years between records, Miya has faced her own share of struggles. After quitting drugs and ending a long-term relationship, her father unexpectedly passed away. Channeling her grief and confusion into her music resulted in ROACH. The record feels a bit like those moments after a session with your therapist—maybe you’ve got some lingering sadness and puffy eyes from the crying, but overall you feel a little bit lighter. Miya shares her messiness on this album, but she does it in a way that lets you know that it’s okay to be like that from time to time. We’ve all been there. ROACH is resilient and so is Miya Folick.
Folick shares some of her highest highs and lowest lows on this album. The lyrics are direct and brutally honest. Effortlessly moving between genres, the tracks are earworms you won’t want to get rid of. “I hate the idea of a lane,” Miya tells me, “and I don’t want to stay in one.” Her “rule-breaking desires,” as she puts it, are what make ROACH what it is. It’s Miya Folick showing the world who she is, in the best way she knows how to. Gearing up for her upcoming headline tour, Miya Folick talks me through why she titled the album after an insect, her creative processes and drawing inspiration from the little things in life.
What’s the meaning behind the name ‘ROACH’?
This album is about a lot of different things, but I think one of the main things is this idea of grit or perseverance. It’s about the duality of my self-image–I see myself as this very strong, very capable person, but I also see myself as the worst person in the world, the scum of the earth. I think that that’s very relatable. It’s like I believe in myself and I love myself and I hate myself and I think I’m a loser. I think that’s reflected in this idea of the roach in that it’s this universally derided insect but it’s also one of the creatures on this earth that’s been along for the longest. It’s older than us all. It’s stuck around and it’s sort of beautiful and shiny. That’s what I was thinking emotionally and rationally. Also, I just thought ROACH would be a cool name.
On ‘Premonitions’ vs. ‘ROACH’:
I think it was quite different. I worked on [this album] with a lot of different people. I spent more time writing. [For] my first record Premonitions, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time writing, and just spent a lot of time producing. I worked with the same team on every song, so it was very intimate. This record, ROACH, I worked with a lot of different people. I worked with different people on every song. I also spent a lot more time writing. I wrote a lot of songs that didn’t make it on the record. I think every record I make will always be different. I can’t imagine making two records the same. I think I’m becoming more a creature of habit as I get older but I don’t think that I am by nature a creature of habit. Some people are. Some people are like this is how I make a record, I make it like this every time but I’m not like that. I can’t imagine being like that. It seems so unlike me.
On having a little bit of creative anarchy:
I’m a person who needs new stimulation pretty often, so the way that I approach writing always changes. Sometimes I love writing with other people and I want to be in the studio with other people. And then sometimes I don’t want anyone around, I want to be alone at home in my studio. Or sometimes I don’t even want to be inside; I want to be going for a walk and coming up with the song acapella. My habits are always changing, that’s just the way I am. Maybe I will fall into some sort of pattern in the future but I don’t know–it’s just not really the way my brain works. I just need to follow my instincts. I’m a person who resists rules of all types. If I had a rule for myself like this is how you need to start a song, I would never do it because I hate rules. There’s so many rules in so many other parts of my life; like how you’re supposed to act, or take care of your body to be healthy and get enough sleep. So I think that for some reason within my creative life, I like to just let it be a little bit, just like the Wild West. You know, a little bit of anarchy.
On the effects of collaboration:
I’m definitely influenced by the people who work on the record and the people who play on the record. And that’s the point of collaboration; people will play things in a way that I would never think of or can’t do. It’s so much fun to take a song and bring it to somebody and let them find themselves within that song. I think what’s interesting in collaboration is there’s this idea of the producer or the artist being the “mastermind” and everyone is just delivering to this. But I think that’s just not how it works. When somebody else touches the music, it changes the music. And I can’t say that what they did is because it’s what I wanted or because I told them to do it a certain way. That’s not the case at all. Everyone who touched the record influenced the record, through what they played, but also through the conversations I had with them, through the energy they bring to the room, through the way that I feel when I’m around them. Some people make me excited and some people make me nervous and some people make me comfortable, and that’s going to bring a different side of me out when I make songs. I love everyone who worked on the record and I don’t know what it would be without them if I had just made it by myself in my house.
Why knowing what a lyric means doesn’t always matter:
Sometimes I enjoy explaining a lyric, but sometimes I just feel like it doesn’t really matter what it means to me and that’s kind of the point. I think the reason that music is so moving and feels like poetry is because of all the information that’s omitted and is in between the lines. When you listen to a song and you hear two lyrics beside each other, you create the meaning and you link those lyrics in your mind. That gives you space as a listener to let your own memories live inside that song and to create connections yourself. I don’t think that necessarily knowing what the songwriter meant really helps that process. I think it’s definitely a fan’s curiosity, which is healthy and fun. Sometimes it can deepen your connection to a song but sometimes it’s not really necessary. I think [for] so many of my favorite songs, I don’t really have any idea who they were talking about or what they were talking about and I don’t care.
On where she draws inspiration from:
Who knows why anything ends up the way it is. I think that’s what’s kind of insane about talking about influence or talking about where inspiration comes from, because you might think that the inspiration comes from within or came from a very specific person, but we are not living in a vacuum. Inspiration could have come from the morning I recorded the song—maybe I went to the grocery store and they were playing Taylor Swift on the radio or I had a conversation with somebody or I saw something or it was hot or it was cold. I think all of these things change the way the music is. So it’s hard for me to talk about what influenced the record or why I think it ended up the way it did. There are so many things–the weather, the pandemic, the way I slept, maybe I was tired. There are so many variables. I think as I make music more, I’m giving into this feeling that so much of it is out of my control. Which I think gives me a little bit more freedom and less of an instinct to try to nitpick every little moment.
Miya Folick heads out on The Roach Tour next week. See her perform in a city near you:
Rio Theatre — Vancouver, BC.
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