In a classic case of a small-town girl gone big, Mia Martina’s story begins in an improbable setting and carries on through to finding her first single, “Stereo Love,” at the tenth spot in the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Mia about what it means to be a dance artist in Canada, the role music videos have played in helping get her message out to fans and how she could just drive right on by a Tim Hortons.
Let’s start with a little background. You’re from Canada, of course, and better still you’re from Saint-Ignace, New Brunswick. Small towns aren’t exactly considered hotbeds of electronic/pop/club music, are they?
No, they are not. [Laughs] We listen to a lot of folk music and country. But my dad always had the latest records, so because of him I was introduced to artists like Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey from a very young age.
The story goes that you came out of Saint-Ignace and took voice lessons in Moncton, following up with an internship at CP Records. Did you have any indication at that time as to what was coming?
I always knew that I wanted to be a singer, but I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. When I got the internship, my faith got stronger and I believed in myself even more, and kept working harder.
With a roster that includes Belly, Massari, Ivana Santilli, and Danny Fernandes, there’s no shortage of diversity on CP Records. What does it mean to you to be part of the label?
It’s the best label I could ever ask for. CP is like a family environment. We all look out for one another and support each other in life and in our musical careers. Being able to have such diverse artists on the roster gives each of us room to grow, but also learn from one another and see the variety of fans and supporters across the world.
“Stereo Love” is the song that has everyone talking, with its accordion and sensual vocals. The track hit Number 10 in the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. How did the song come to be?
The song was brought to me by Ultra Records. They were looking for a North American artist to do the official remix and they had heard about me. They sent me the song, which I demoed and sent back to them. They loved it and in a matter of days it was released everywhere.
One of my favourite songs from Devotion is “Miles Away,” a track that lets you show off your stronger vocals with a lush but subtle arrangement. Your performance isn’t filled with the vocal acrobatics generally used by so many of today’s pop singers, which is a refreshing change. Was this by design?
No, not really. “Miles Away” is a very meaningful song to me, so I just sang from my heart.
Clearly the Canadian music scene is a diverse one, often much more varied than it’s credited for, and dance pop is emerging as a popular genre. With a wave of artists challenging the traditional notion of Canada as the land of the Tragically Hip and Rush, what does it mean to you to achieve such success in a relatively “new” genre?
It’s a blessing and an amazing opportunity to be able to bridge the gaps between the different types of music and artists that Canada has to offer. We have talented individuals in all genres of music, not just country and rock, and being able to showcase that through my music means a lot to me.
To jump off on showcasing your music, what role do you think music videos have played in your exposure?
Besides my shows, my music videos are my way of connecting with my fans. Without the videos, my fans wouldn’t know what I look like, or how I express myself, or my fashion sense. So they have introduced me to my audience.
What’s it like working with (music video director) Marc André Debruyne?
The first video Marc and I worked on actually was in Vegas in the Red Rock desert. It was over 100 degrees and it was my first time working with him. He’s a wonderful director and was very easy in making me feel comfortable in front of the camera and getting the shots he wanted. When we worked on “Stereo Love” we had already built a great working relationship, so now we know exactly what works and how to go about obtaining the right visuals for each video.
The video for “Latin Moon” was shot in Cuba. Talk a little bit about that experience and how it felt for a small-town Canadian girl to be a part of it.
It was so beautiful. That was my first time in Cuba and it was such an amazing experience for me. Going to an exotic country for vacation and going there for work are two completely different experiences. Meeting the people and working with them was incredible. Everyone was so nice and accommodating. It really made shooting the video there a pleasure.
A dream musical collaboration?
I would love to do a song with Sade. She’s timeless.
Okay. It’s three in the morning. You’re cruising around, music pumping after a night out and a Tim Hortons looms on the horizon. What do you order? Or do you drive right on by?
I drive on by. I only drink Second Cup. [Laughs]
And finally, the obligatory “what’s next” question: What’s next for Mia Martina?
There are so many things that I want to do in the future, but obviously everything comes with time, patience and hard work. I’m currently working on a tour across Canada with UMM Magazine, which I’m on the cover of for this issue. I also have dates in the US and internationally set up, so definitely planning on taking my music overseas. I love doing interviews and talking about my music, so hopefully more covers and most definitely some remixes and collaborations.