Posted On 30 Mar 2017
Houston-based electropop artist, MIEARS is a self-produced singer-songwriter and she recently released her acclaimed debut EP, Who Will Save You?, via Loose Narrative.
MIEARS is the solo project of Michelle Miears, front-woman of Houston-based electronica trio, BLSHS. With a voice comparable to those of Lauren Mayberry and Georgia Nott, Miears enjoyed multiple festival appearances with the band, countless words of praise in the media and a grueling schedule of tour dates and sets at festivals like CMJ Music Marathon and SXSW. However, after work stalled on the follow up to BLSHS’ debut album, Michelle began a journey that would start with a question and end with a whole new solo project.
That project, known simply as MIEARS, found the singer writing, producing, performing and recording the solo effort, while only allowing famed engineer John Griffin (Matt The Electrician, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Southern Backtones) to mix the project. The result, Who Will Save You?, is an emotionally driven musical narrative, that explores the compulsive and cyclical nature of relationships. A self-described melodic-pop soundscape, Who Will Save You? is a DIY take on melancholy pop music, complete with ethereal melodies and synthesizers. With the EP now unleashed to the world, MIEARS is entering the next chapter of her life, in which she’ll perform as a solo artist for the very first time.
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Learn more about Miears in the following All Access interview with her:
Congratulations on the release of your solo debut EP, “Who Will Save You?”! I understand this is your first project as a solo artist, what a major accomplishment!
Thank you so much! Yes, this is my first project as a solo artist, and it has been an incredible journey so far!
How would you describe “Who Will Save You?”, Does the EP have an underlying theme or message?
Who Will Save You? definitely has an underlying theme, which is my own self exploration and discovery of my relationship patterns, past and present, and my tendency to be codependent in relationships. I tend to assume the role of caretaker in my relationships, so far. I have been in relationships where my partner has had depression, has suffered a serious illness, has been through extremely traumatic life experiences, etc, and each time, I feel this weight of responsibility on my shoulders to keep them afloat. I also notice that I, all too often, measure my worth through feeling needed and by evaluating my own partner’s level of contentment, instead of my own. This can definitely become an unhealthy dynamic at times. My journey to understand my own patterns and behaviors in these codependent relationships helped form this EP, as it is all based on my nostalgia, my questions, and my realizations from my personal experiences in relationships.
How did it feel to write, produce, perform and record all on your own for this EP? Do you feel like you have improved as an artist?
It felt extremely liberating to discover that I could carry a body of work from start to finish, from my own home studio. I enjoyed every single moment of the writing, production, and recording process. Each little moment was a learning experience and an opportunity to develop a process, a work flow, and my own, unique sound. I especially enjoyed all of the time spent in Logic with arrangement, automation, editing, sound design, plugin effects, and all of the other granular details that keep you company in the long, late night hours spent working on a project. I could honestly sit and work in Logic for hours and not realize how much time has passed, so it’s nice to be able to sit down and work at any time, day or night, for as long as I want. I definitely do feel that I have improved as an artist during this experience. I learned to rely on my own ear for every element of the song writing and production process. It forced me to trust my own instincts, and to get creative with the tools that I have available to me. I actually learned that I enjoy having less tools and instruments available, because it does force you to sit down and really learn the hardware and software instruments and plugins that you do have at your disposal. I developed a work flow that I enjoy, and I learned how to critically listen and understand when there is too much going on in a song, and to know when to strip it back and let it breathe.
Can you talk to us about the perks of being both a solo artist (MIEARS) as well as a collaborative artist (BLSHS)?
It is amazing to have my own creative outlet, through my solo project MIEARS, that I can dive into no matter what is going on in the world around me. Through the ebbs and flows, I can stand on my own two feet and create music under any circumstance. I love having the ability to craft and develop my own sound and style, and to build my own skill set as I go along. The possibilities feel endless as a solo artist. However; it can be lonely at times. There is something irreplaceable about the comradery of a collaborative/band environment. The ability to work as a team towards a greater goal is something very special that I have always craved, since my experiences in band and marching band during school. I loved going to the big competitions as a group, and nailing a performance together. It’s so gratifying to see your teammates’ joy during those experiences. I get a similar feeling with BLSHS; I love my team and I love contributing to the greater good. I also love being able to skill share and bounce ideas around with other creative minds. My band-mate, Chris, has taught me an infinite amount and still continues to do so. I consider him a mentor in many ways. Both Rick and Chris always brought their own unique sound, style, and technique to the table, and it has always been beneficial and gratifying, being able to observe and learn from two extremely talented artists.
What was your most memorable performance to date? What made it so impactful?
My most memorable performance to date just happened this past Friday. It was my EP release show here in Houston at White Oak Music Hall with two other incredible, self-produced women in music: Pearl Crush and Tee Vee, who opened for me. They are amazing. I had been planning my EP release show for a handful of months, and it just felt like this amazing achievement to finally get up on a stage and debut my solo work live. I had played a private/secret house show back in January to a select, small group of people, which was an amazing experience in itself, but having this public performance under my solo name was a big accomplishment. I felt so embraced by Houston’s music community and by all of my friends and family, which is something I will never forget. My parents were both there and I could truly feel their pride in me, which is a big reason why I would mark this performance at the top of my list. It was a magical evening of music that I never want to forget, and it felt like the beginning of a big adventure.
Who are some of your most inspiring musical influences? What is it about them that most enthuses you?
I absolutely love self-produced women in music like Imogen Heap, Grimes, Lights, Bjork, Bat For Lashes, and Psychic Twin. I love that they all create music on their own terms, with their own two hands, and they have all achieved success through their hard work and genuine artistry. Listening to their music makes me feel like anything is possible. It makes me want to work harder and dream bigger, because they have set the bar high for what can be accomplished.
What musical instrument or sound do you most often like to include in your music?
As of current, my favorite instrument to use in my music is my MicroKORG. You can make, what feels like, an infinite amount of sounds with the MicroKORG. The presets are amazing, but the ability to shape and design sounds is what I love the most. From pads, to bass, to leads, this synth is definitely my go-to instrument. The MicroKORG is present in every song on my EP.
Your music carries an intense emotional, moody, and deep sound. How would you describe the relationship between your emotions and your songwriting experience? Where do they lyrics come from?
My emotions are very closely tied to my songwriting experience. Sometimes, I write immediately after I’ve had a very fresh experience or realization, or if questions or uncertainty are probing me, and I have nowhere else to turn. My internal dialogue and emotions are what cause me to sit down at my keyboard and begin writing. If the instrumental comes first, like a basic chord progression sketched out on my keyboard and recorded as a voice memo, I will sit with that basic little recording and let my emotions play out from there lyrically and melodically. The lyrics are mostly derived from questions or thoughts in my mind. Perhaps a key phrase comes to mind when thinking about how I feel…I shape those thoughts and words to fit into my chord progression and vocal melody, and then continue writing from there. All of my songs are a reflection of my own personal feelings and experiences.
At the end of the day, what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I hope that people can listen to my music and feel inspired to explore themselves in a deeper way, and to hopefully gain an understanding of who they are and how they fit into their relationships with the people around them. I think this level of self-discovery can be healing. This EP was filled with questions and discoveries, for me. Through creating this EP, I observed my own patterns and behaviors, and it was somewhat of a coping mechanism for me to process heartbreak and help me understand the past and my nostalgia a little better. I tend to get caught in my head quite often, reminiscing about what I could have done differently or better, and writing this music helped me to sort through those emotions. This music helped me to live through the emotions, instead of getting stuck in them. I hope that my music can help someone else do the same.