Pia Mia is about to take over 2019 with her powerhouse vocals
Pia Mia's powerhouse vocals are paying off.
The 22-year-old pop singer just made her acting debut in the film "After" playing the role of Tristian --a movie adaption of the incredibly successful book series by NYT Bestselling author, Anna Todd.
You might know Pia from her 2015 smash single "Do It Again" (the song has racked up nearly 400 million video views on YouTube) or you might remember the viral video Kim Kardashian posted of the then 18-year-old singer sitting at dinner with Kanye West, Drake, Hailey Baldwin and the entire Kardashian family -- while belting her remake of Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home," at the dinner table.
Since then, Pia has been an under-the-radar force in pop music, creating island-eccentric melodies, and collaborating with everyone from Chance the Rapper to G-Eazy, Tyga and Chris Brown.
Her latest single, "Bitter Love," serves the theme song to her movie "After" and is her first project since parting ways with Interscope Records to become an independent artists. The music video was just released today.
We caught up with the Guamanian singer to discuss her acting debut and what it was like taking back control of her creativity as a musician. Check out our full conversation below!
Talk to me about the role of Tristian and and how you got into the head space to play her character.
When I auditioned for "After," I read the whole script and checked out the books. I kind of just got in the vibe of the whole movie. Tristian is edgy, she likes to party and go out. She's fun and at the same time she has a good head on her shoulders, she's smart and doesn't get involved in drama. I think she has a really strong genuine love for her friends, so she kind of plays the moral compass for them. If you've checked out the book series, you'll see how her character grows.
Of course we know you for your music, but how hard was it to make the transition from singing in a studio to acting on a big set?
It was very different. I've been in the music industry for so many years and worked every day of my life since I was 8 -- but it was so different than I what expected (in a good way). I learned so much on set and it just kind of took me out of my element a little bit, which I liked because it forced me to grow and learn quickly on the spot. Because when you're on a movie set, you're getting notes and changes and the script is being altered every day as you go and you're working with other people. It's not just your vision, you're having to bring someone else's story to life in the way that they want it be. I thought it was just so fun because in music it's always my direction and what I want. But at the same time, I was able to be involved in Tristian's fashion which was a collaborative effort. I liked that fact that I was bringing someone else's story to life.
Speaking of calling the shots in terms of your music, you recently went independent. What's that shift like from having a label to back you to now being independent? Do you feel creatively free?
I learned a lot when I was on a major label. That was a really good experience for me, but at the same time the music industry changed a lot while I was there. Streaming became a thing and I feel like artists want more control -- especially with social media. I want to be able to put music out when I make it and talk to my fans about what I am going through in life and I don't like doing the one song a year thing. In the transition period, I made my own label called Cherry Pie Records so I am independent. I don't have an investor giving me billions of dollars. I'm paying for everything myself which can be a little stressful at times because I'm gambling on myself but I believe in the project and my fans are really pushing me through. I'm so happy "Bitter Love" is the theme song for "After."
The stars are just aligning and I made the right decision. I make music all the time. I want to drop projects and get back on the road. You have to find the platforms for your projects or your songs because you don't have a major label pushing it to radio and doing these different things. I was just so happy when I found out that "Bitter Love" was going to be the theme song for the movie. When Anna Todd [the author of the book series] heard it, she texted me was like 'this is so perfect for the story.' I've seen my fans have the same reaction too, so it was a perfect stars aligning moment.
"Bitter Love" is such an addicting song. The sounds are so complex between the transitions of bridges and the chorus. There are a lot of different elements combined. It also reminds me of your first song "Red Love" in 2013. What was that writing process and studio session like?
I've been on everyone about this song for so long and especially since you've listened to me since "Red Love" -- I haven't really put out another "Red Love" type of song since then. That's such a big side of me as an artist. I love "Do it Again" and "We Should be Together" and those types of songs because I am from the island of Guam, so that islandy, edgy, clubby feel is so natural to me. But at the same time I grew up listening to Celine and Whitney. "Bitter Love" and "Red Love" are my heart and my love letters.
I just needed to get this song off my chest for myself, so I am so happy it's finally out. I've pushed for it for so long and I never knew why it wasn't coming out or why it was such a struggle but then when the "After" movie happened, it made total sense. It wasn't "Bitter Love's" time and now it is.
You also did a song with Chance the Rapper for the "Divergent" movie. What was it like collaborating with him?
For "Divergent," I remember they had just reached out and asked us to make a song for the movie, but for "After" they asked me to submit songs I already had to see if anything would be a fit. For "Divergent," I wrote that song with Marc Bassey and we left a verse open. We were thinking of who we want to feature and then decided on Chance. We sent it to him and he loved it, so that was really cool because I love Chance's music.
What can we expect from you in terms of upcoming music? Will it different from your EPs?
I have something really excited coming. I just shot a music video for "Bitter Love." [The music video dropped today, check it out here] I think people will be shook when they see it. So much hard work went into that and that's the first music video that I funded solely by myself...I wanted to have a moment where I can feed my fans because they are starving for music. They're like 'we want more videos, more projects, more tours and everything.' I need to be able to do that for them because they have been so patient with me.
I want to put out a fresh body of work before I go on another tour. I love being on tour and getting to see my fans and talk to them at the meet and greets because that's what I do music for. Being on the road is my favorite part of doing music. I can't wait for that.
And will we see more acting from you? What's your dream role?
I would love to play something action or something on Broadway. I started in musical theatre back home in Guam. That's how I got into music because I used to be so shy when I was younger and I never thought I would have done music but then I auditioned for a school play. It was Cinderella and I was 8 and I got the part. The second I went on stage it clicked for me and I immediately was like 'okay, this is what I'm supposed to do.' So I've been determined and working ever since then.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.