Miya Selena is a second year, transfer student from BC. She is undeclared in the Faculty of Arts as of right now, but is headed towards Anthropology. She is from a small town called Salmon Arm, and writes mostly jazzy, acoustic songs that project her classical musical training and her music tastes today. Miya and I met up in The Nest to talk about small town living, songwriting, and getting out of your shell.
Where are you from?
So I am from a small town called Salmon Arm, spelled like salmon-space-a-r-m. Isn’t that like that weirdest name? It is so weird. It just paints such a weird image in your head. It is just outside the Okanagan area. I was actually born in Prince George, but I moved to Salmon Arm when I was pretty young, so I pretty much grew up there. It is a tiny town, and it’s really cute and pretty with lots of nature.
Did you like living in a small town like that? What were some of your reasons for wanting to come to UBC?
Yeah I did, I mean it was a good place to grow up as a child, and do nature stuff like go on hikes and it’s a very safe community. It did lack diversity which is one of the reasons I wanted to explore UBC, and in terms of activities there was a small art and music scene, but I like it here it’s exciting.
How did you get into songwriting and singing?
So my family is pretty music oriented. My dad actually wanted to be a professional jazz trumpet player when he was younger, so he always did music and I grew up listening to alot of jazz. My brother started a band in high school. I grew up playing classical piano, and then I tried to teach myself guitar. Right now, I usually write my songs on my guitar, which is funny because that is not what I am trained in playing. So, that was in middle school where I started taking an interest in singing and stuff, but I was still pretty shy when it came to that. High school is got easier and I played trumpet in jazz band, so I did a few different kinds of things related to music, but in grade 11 there was this music composition class where you learned theory, and they had studio thing where you had access to recording your own stuff. We learned how to use that equipment and write songs, so I started writing and recording my music then.
So you've mentioned a few instruments. How many instruments do you play?
I play guitar, have training in classical piano, and a bit of trumpet.
What is your writing process like?
Usually it’s pretty sporadic, when I feel randomly inspired. Yeah there’s a feel different ways I’ve written songs in the past, lots of songs that end up being pretty catchy. I usually figure out a chord progression on the guitar, which is funny, because I don’t even really know what I’m playing half the time. I will think of melody, and then write lyrics simultaneously with that, and I have found that’s that easiest way for me to write songs. I have tried to write lyrics first, but I find it’s hard to fit it in. I feel like when you write the lyrics with the melody you are more likely to choose words that just sound pleasing. I also go through phases where I write like all the time, and then where I don’t write anything and I go through a total block, it’s inconsistent for sure. Like a few weeks ago I got randomly inspired and started writing a lot. I definitely write the most when I am feeling inspired.
How do you feel your music has changed overtime?
I think it’s been pretty subconscious. It depends on what I’m listening to a lot of the time, and it influences me. I feel like my sound is always changing. I’ve been approaching music in a singular, individual way, like you know singer- songwriter, and acoustic, with like just me involved, but I actually want to start a band. I want to do more, and incorporate other instruments. I have recorded with different instrument, but I would like to have other people playing with me, because I really like playing with others, and it helps create a different sound. When you have other musicians with you it changes the dynamic, and I want to start moving in a new direction and trying new things.
Describe your music in three words.
Soft, jazzy, simplistic.
Do you have a favorite artist you’re listening to right now?
Oh yeah, the other day at work this song came on and I just had to stop everything I was doing and I was like ‘what is this song?’ The artist was Molly Burch, and it was this song called ‘Downhearted’ and it was sort of a retro sound, and really beautiful. It was a combo of She and Him and Angel Olson. I am actually going to this concert, Alex Cameron, but she is actually going to be the opener! I didn’t realize it until later, but I thought it was so cool I am really excited. But yeah, I have just been listening to that album that the song is on, on repeat.
You can listen to Miya on her YouTube channel, and if you like it subscribe to her channel and click like! She also sometimes performs at BVP open mics which take place every other week on Wednesday nights, 7pm-10pm.