If one word could describe last year, I’d say transformative; locked down with nowhere to go, all I could do was listen. And that’s what I did. In a bubble of introspection, I let Miiesha’s debut collection Nyaaringu meaning ‘what happened’ in Pitjantjatjara language, help me face the past I’d been running from.
Raised in the 90s, whether you agree with me or not, it’s when music still had heart before its steady decline. Miiesha’s soothing melodics and redemptive lyrics revive an era of RnB and Neo-Soul us die-hard fans can appreciate.
Upon hearing the track Drowning, it cracked me open, instantly engulfing me in a tide of emotions. Miiesha’s gospel tones and self-reclamation reassured me I wasn’t alone and allowed me to sit with my hard truths.
As a First Nations woman, Miiesha’s journey reflects similar feats I’ve overcome regarding identity, race and self-care. This is why Miiesha’s music is medicine to me.
So, it’s no surprise Miiesha’s artistry has garnered her accolades which include ARIA 2020 Best Soul/R&B Release, a hattrick win at the 2021 Queensland Music Awards and Triple J’s 2020 Unearthed Level Up Grant recipient.
After winning NIMA’s 2020 New Talent of the Year, Miiesha is back, this time, she’s in the running for NIMA’s 2021 Artist and Song of the Year (Damaged).
Hailing from Woorabinda, Queensland, I speak with Miiesha, the Pitjantjatjara/Torres Strait Islander singer-songwriter before she performs at the NIMA 2021 at Darwin Amphitheatre on August 7.
A: You launched onto the Australian music scene during a pandemic and at the height of social, cultural, and political uprises. In reflection, has these events affected you or your music – if so, in what way?
M: It hasn’t really affected my music, but I think it’s probably changed how people listen to it though. COVID left me with a lot of self-doubt around my talent but once I was able to get back into the studio, it started to feel right again.
A: You are performing at this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA) – Australia’s biggest First Nations gala music gathering. What does this mean to you?
M: It’ll be deadly to be there and connect with all the mob! I performed from my living room last year so to actually be there this year will be really special to be around that feeling of community.
A: Music is often a form of therapy – a cathartic release, a way to heal. So, what gave you the courage to share your journey via music?
M: My Nan would always encourage me growing up to do music. I think I realised as a teenager that I’ve been given my voice for a reason, so I need to use it.
A: One Sunday afternoon, I took a break from deadlines, listened to your music repeatedly, and completely broke down crying – a mini purge. Have you had feedback similar to what I’ve described on how your music has impacted listeners?
M: Yeah, I think to myself all the time: “I wonder what or who they think about when they listen to the song”. I’ve had DMs from people saying it’s got them through their week, through a breakup, but I’ll never forget the feeling when this woman DM’d me telling me how the song saved her life. I didn’t even know what to say. I just felt like crying, because music saved me too.
A: I was raised by strong Blak matriarchs who made it possible for me to experience the freedom they didn’t. But, there’s a new conversation around ditching the ‘strong Blak woman’ badge for more agency – be that softer, vulnerable, or however we choose to show up in the world. Is this dialogue something you can relate to or add to?
M: I think I can definitely relate to this. I’m just my own badge haha. I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being vulnerable and soft. I think if you’ve got good intentions and a good heart who cares, be your own definition of a strong black woman. Every black woman in my life will always be a strong black woman!
A: From the outside, looking in your future is spectacularly bright. Is there a dream project on the cards or collaborations you’d love to manifest?
M: I have so many dreams, but my biggest goal right now is to do my own tour! It will be an awesome experience, getting to hang out with the band/family for a few weeks!
A: What have you learned about yourself so far? Any gems you’d like to drop?
M: So far in my journey, I’d say I’ve learned to forgive, most importantly to forgive myself. I used to wake up and there were all these parts of me that I hated. I’ve had to forgive myself for a lot and learn to love myself unconditionally. It really is the best feeling when you wake up loving yourself!
Miiesha’s wisdom is embodied throughout her music, ‘For those who learned how to swim, your survival is not your sin’. Perhaps, Damaged gives you permission to extend yourself grace and Hold Strong as it’s done for me.
You can catch Miiesha at the National Indigenous Music Awards 2021. To purchase tickets, visit the website.
Keep up to date with all Miiesha’s success and music online.