One of this season’s more promising (and powerhouse) singers on The Voice is 16-year-old Mia Z. Part of Pharrell’s team, the Pittsburgh native is refreshingly grounded and composed thanks to being raised in a musically inclined household.
After besting Ashley Morgan (who was immediately stolen by Adam Levine) in the Battle Rounds, Mia Z is ready for the knockouts and during our interview, she talked about finding her “voice” as a singer and performer.
You’re a confident singer without being cocky. Does that self-assuredness come from growing up in a musically inclined family?
Thank you, first of all – I appreciate that. It’s just being around a family of musicians and being raised by a very humble, confident, working mother. My whole family – we’re all so connected and grounded and blessed. It’s definitely my family (that) gives me the boost and motivation. I thank God – so yeah, it’s definitely the musician/family theme.
Was it great to hear that ZZ Ward loved yours and Ashley Morgan’s Battle Rounds rendition of Put The Gun Down?
Oh my. It was before school and I was screaming bloody murder! I ran through my house – my mom was running and we turned on her music. And I am a fan – I’ve followed her since I was 13. My sister liked her and my uncle did (as well).
I always listened to her music – I could literally sing every word to every song – I’m in love with her. To have her complimenting Ashley and I on singing her song was absolutely amazing. I can’t event put it into words. I was screaming – it was awesome.
How are you balancing your academics with your other school, which is learning more about music and performing from The Voice?
It’s not very stressful. I would say I have it under control really well. My teachers are very supportive and they send me my school work and are very cooperative with me turning things in and helping me get through it.
It’s interesting to be in school and on The Voice. But it’s sort of what I do at home – I go to school and I perform on the weekends with my band. It’s sort of the same dynamic, but not to this extent. So it’s nationalized now, which is pretty cool. It’s pretty easy (and) I’m pretty cool with it. (laughs)
On working with Pharrell, is it great working with such a diverse performer and producer?
Absolutely. Just listening to Pharrell and studying what he says and taking in what he says and using it for motivation and inspiration. (With Pharrell) you’re stuck in the moment and you’re constantly in that positive high. It’s cool just to talk to him but then for him to give advice. . . it’s so surreal. (I) lay in bed at night and (say) “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is truly happening. Pharrell Williams – I’m on his team.”
This is very insane, but it’s such a blessing.
Along with your self-confidence, you also have a unique style. You’re not a singer who parrots other artists. How long have you been individualistic in your singing approach?
Right – I appreciate that (compliment). It didn’t take a lot of time. When I was younger, I didn’t have that sort of (style). I was just a pretty little singer. The cool thing is I can do my own style but I also learned to change it sometimes and sing very pretty or maybe try and sing opera.
I think it’s about finding a sound you like, but you don’t copy somebody else’s artwork. You just have to be mindful of others. People say I sound like Amy Winehouse and (my response is) – well she is a legend and I would love to be her – she’s got that raw sound. But I’m just trying to keep my own Mia Z (style) going. It’s been fairly easy. You just have to make sure you keep your own artwork and sound.
You seem like a singer and songwriter who’s more than willing to cover more than one genre.
Absolutely. All of the original music that my mom and I write – we have rock. We have pop. We have ballads. We have blues. We have jazz. We have funk. You name it – we tried to write a country song! Because my drummer (is) in a country band.
You can get bored with the same old blues sound maybe for a two hour set – so you have to keep the audience interested and get all the music lovers. Why not try and hit every genre of music if you can? That would be awesome. That is basically what my mom and I have been thinking when writing songs and when I sing I do different things with them. I love it all – I love classical. I love big band. I just love it.
Along with learning more about your craft, you’re also learning about the television medium and what goes on behind the scenes with The Voice.
Just seeing what’s going on behind stage – it’s mind-blowing. It’s insane (with all the hard work). The staff is running around, and then they’ll eat something and go back and (to running around).
It’s so cool to be a part of that. To get the opportunity to live that and experience it and then to have that in your memory. It’s been absolutely amazing and I thank God every day for this opportunity. To be where I am right now and to even be on the show and to meet all these people and to have their support has been very, very cool.
Dumb question – are you a pancakes or a waffles person? (Adam Levine made a pancakes and waffles comparison to Ashley Morgan and Mia Z during the Battle Rounds)
I’m a pancake person – all the way. I love pancakes, actually. (laughs)
Has your Twitter following increased thanks to The Voice?
My social media went up about 2,000. I have over 4,000 followers now and I only had 273 (before). It’s pretty insane, and everybody in school walking down the hall and saying, ‘Good job Mia, that was awesome.’ And tweeting about me and liking my Facebook page . . . everybody has been so supportive.
It’s great I have all that support behind me to keep going (and for) motivation and inspiration. It’s been very very cool.
Thank you and good luck moving forward.
Thank you so much!
The Voice airs Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC (8 pm et/pt).
To Hear My Entire Audio Interview with Mia Z, check out the Soundcloud audio below: