Youth springs eternal in the music industry. Precocious singers and dancers bounce between New York and L.A. hoping to hit the big time. Few succeed.
With a little luck and a torrent of hard work, though, talented folks can get their moment in the sun.
Enter Pia Mia, a 19 year-old pop/r&b singer from the island Guam, known far and wide as an incubator of future pop stars. But seriously, Pia is the real deal.
She’s got a voice that’s as lithe as the legends—Mariah, Whitney—but can also open up a sousaphone sized sound at the top of her range. Her first single, “Do it Again,” featuring perennial hit-man Chris Brown and Tyga, the pied piper of 2015, is a smash.
Catchy and cool, and produced like a sonic dream, it’s almost certain to shoot Pia to stardom. And to think she got her big break singing a Kim Kardashian-cellphone-recorded cover of Drake’s “Hold on We’re Going Home,” aka the best pop song of the millennium.
Curmudgeons be damned. The internet is hoisting up new stars every day. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and Pia’s good.
The Knockturnal spoke with her exclusively during a round of press for her performance at American Express Unstaged, a showcase for talent on the cusp of stardom.
I read somewhere that you have hundreds of songs in the can. How do you work that fast? What’s your process?
I think the process is different for everyone, but when you find the chemistry with people you can just bang out records so quick.
I’ve been working with Nic Nac and Mark Griffin for maybe two years now. Sometimes we can do like three songs a night fully from scratch just because we’re so inspired and we just have that chemistry.
I usually write from my journal or from my real life experience. I just like to keep everything very real and true.
Growing up on Guam did you have a lot of friends who were also into r&b?
No. Growing up on Guam I really didn’t have too many friends. I knew was what I was born to do since I was 8, so I kind of just stayed focused and worked really hard. I think a lot of kids didn’t really understand that, so they kind of didn’t know how to handle it.
I just stayed really close to my family and I just worked in school musicals and I would sing for Japanese weddings cause the industry on Guam is tourism. I’d do governments events and things like that.
I used to study Michael Jackson and Celine Dion and Beyonce on YouTube.
When you were 8 you were in Cinderella, right?
Yep, that’s how it all began.
Yeah I was so shy when I was younger. I’d probably never have been able to have this conversation right now. I didn’t want to be left in school, and all the little girls were going to try out for the school musical, Cinderella.
And so I went and I tried out and I just know I was going to get Cinderella, and I did. The second I got on stage it was just [pauses] undeniable. I just knew that this was meant for me.
Do you think you’ll do more acting?
Maybe. Music’s my priority right now, but I’ve always been interested in maybe doing a movie or something action-based. I’m really into boxing and krav maga, so I think doing something like that would be really fun for me.
I know you’re a classical music person. Do you think you’ll incorporate it more into your style?
I would love to. I don’t really like to keep my music in a box so I’d kind of like to go everywhere with it and just see how it all comes together in the end.
But I’m obsessed with Ludovico Einaudi, he’s a classical pianist. I got to see him live in concert at the Hollywood Bowl. And he almost never comes and performs in America.
It was just on a fluke. One of my friends just happened to drive by and see it and surprised me with the concert.
I think it would be crazy to do something with him. I don’t think he’s ever done something with an artist before. I think it’s just mainly his own stuff, but that would be crazy.
Find out more about the American Express Unstaged: Artists In Residence program here.