Miraa May Talks Consent, Faith, And Gets Real About Female Empowerment
Miraa May is undoubtedly one of the most beautifully unapologetic women in the UK music scene right now and 2019 couldn’t have started better for the Algerian-born, Tottenham-raised singer. With the release of her new EP, Care Package, Miraa sets the empowering agenda for females this year touching upon consent, self-love, and mental health. Filled with personal and highly relatable emotion, Care Package clearly expresses Miraa’s deep-rooted and authentic nature which can be hard to find nowadays.
I was lucky enough to check in with Miraa which resulted in a conversation which can only be described as refreshingly raw as she proved that there’s serious strength to be found in vulnerability. Blessing us with all kinds of wisdom, Miraa got real about what it means to be a woman in both a music industry and society which continues to tell us we’re not enough.
So, the first song I heard from you was “Travel Thoughts” off your previous EP, N15, which had some major reggae vibes to it but what genre would you give your music?
I don’t think my music has a genre because I like to think that I shouldn’t be confined to just one certain genre. Growing up I’ve been through my emo phase, to then listening to only R&B, to then jazz and folk. I’ve been through so many phases so I think it’s unfair for me to say I’m just a R&B singer or I’m just a reggae singer because honestly, I do what I want. Like I’ve got songs out where I’m straight rapping. I think every genre brings something to the table, and with me, I just want to make sure my tables stocked up with all the food.
N15 was produced by the renowned Salaam Remi who is known well for his work with Nas and of course, the beautiful Amy Winehouse. Tell me about that opportunity.
I would say that was the beginning of me taking my career seriously because like I was still working in a restaurant even after I came back from working on N15. Music was just like a pastime but when I met Salaam and being in the presence of his greatness it made me take things more seriously and I realised that not everyone gets this opportunity.
Did you feel like you’d made it once you were working with the likes of Salaam in LA?
No fucking way. I cried my eyes out and was like what the fuck am I doing here. I didn’t feel like I was cut out for it.
Almost like imposter syndrome, where you don’t feel like you deserve to be where you are?
Yeah that’s exactly what it was. I was thinking it was too good to be true and then worrying about the need to deliver. But really, they didn’t want me to deliver anything. They just wanted me to be myself and make real music and that’s what we ended up doing.
Was Salaam involved in Care Package?
No, Care Package was all created with London producers. But me and Salaam have still worked on some new stuff too but it’s all unreleased. I’m literally the unreleased queen!
That’s exciting though! It means there more to come!
Oh, there’s so much more it’s ridiculous like its fucking jokes! It actually gives me anxiety thinking about how much music I’m yet to release.
What were your main inspirations behind your new EP, Care Package?
Care Package is me coming to terms with a lot of trauma. I was going through a breakup and I was also starting to think about what I’ve been through as a woman. I wanted that to be something I portrayed in my music not just something I went through for no reason. I get a lot of messages from women saying that my music really helps them and so I feel like I’ve done myself justice in not letting these experiences go. You know, it’s not easy being a woman. It’s not easy being a human, let alone a woman.
In the track “Sad” you touch upon unshakable feelings of sadness which can often be hard to explain. What does this song mean to you?
I just wanted people to know that it’s cool to get like that sometimes. “Sad” was one of the most important tracks on the EP for me. It’s about balance because it’s a contrast to the track “Nobody” where I’m telling you that all I want is love and positivity. But no one can keep up that positivity 24/7. You’re gonna come across stuff that pisses you off and if it’s not in your immediate life then it’s gonna be on the fucking news!
You can’t escape sadness in this day and age it’s such a present emotion. Some of that emotion turns into anger and some of it turns into the funny shit we see online. I just felt like for me, who was going through so much with my mental health, it was important to try and shed some light on it through my music otherwise I would feel like I’m not really being true to who I am.
Through other tracks like “Make Room” and “Regardless”, you present yourself as a woman who will take nothing less than she deserves and who is very content and sure within herself. Would you agree?
Yeah, I feel like with “Regardless” it’s me saying I don’t care if I’m not Meagan Good or flippin’ Megan Fox, like it’s cool…I’m sexy regardless! I don’t have to fit into a conventional idea of sexy to feel it.
Have you always had this mentality?
No way, I’m still working on that I can’t lie to you. I’ve not mastered such skills yet however, I am on the way and I want everyone to be on this same journey as me which is the journey of self-love. The journey of learning to accept who you are and what you can be.
What message would you give to women also trying to reach a higher level of self-love?
You’re enough. Trust me. If you’re not number two you’re number one. Never let anyone tell you shit. The only opinion that should matter is a positive one. No one’s going to rate you if you don’t rate yourself first.
I didn’t rate myself for so long and what did that do for me? Nothing. All it did was ruin my relationships and made me paranoid. How do you become the best version of yourself if you think you’re shit? There are already enough people in the world who think I’m ugly, fat, untalented…so why would I add to that?
How do you plan to keep this same energy within the music industry where people are bound to try and change you?
They can’t. I refuse to compromise with absolutely anything or anyone. Unless it’s from someone who honestly has my best interests at heart like my mum. I don’t listen to anyone, I make my own rules and I’m absolutely unapologetic about not compromising. I know that this industry is set to destroy me.
Does that not scare you?
Yeah but I’m also scared of the dark but I’m still gonna have to turn my lights off at night to save money on my fucking bills, you know what I mean! It’s never gonna be a thing where people in the industry tell me what to wear like that’s impossible. There’s nothing anybody can tell me to do unless I think I should do it.
I love that! And what about “Make Room”?
With “Make Room” that was more so about consent and rape. I wanted to talk about rape but not necessarily say the word rape and I don’t wanna necessarily wanna get too involved in the whole conversation about rape either. I’m still coming to terms with having that conversation. For me, it was a coded way to express myself.
You speak very highly of your family and faith on “Nobody”. How have they shaped you as a woman?
I follow Islam, I was born a Muslim and a lot of my energy comes from the pride I get in being Muslim. But I don’t see a lot of positive representation of Islam. The world just focuses on the negativity of my religion rather than the beauty of it. I was raised to love and treat everyone equally and that’s exactly what they teach in Islam. It’s really just a calm and beautiful faith and you’d be surprised how much respect it has for women. It’s a common myth that women are oppressed under Islam but believe me I would convert if I thought this was true. I would never accept it.
I also feel like faith isn’t considered cool anymore so I wanted “Nobody” to challenge that. Like you can talk about sex and drugs but you should also take the time to shed a little light on love and faith. It’s all about balance.
Have you set any other goals for yourself for 2019? What’s the next step for you?
I’ve got new singles and a few collaborations coming with some really talented artists. I’ve also got another EP coming this year which in comparison to Care Package is quite dark. Just a lot of positive stuff man, I’m really looking forward to this year. I’ve already accomplished so much but really it’s just the start.
Here at NBGA, we’re all about women uplifting women. What other female artists do you think we should look out for this year?
Oh my god, there’s so many. Tiana Major9, ELIZA, Amaria B, Shaé Universe, Ms Banks, RAYE…they’re all sick and it’s just a beautiful time for women. With a lot of people in the industry, especially men, their favorite hobby is to pit females against each other. Like as much as there’s a lot of us, there’s also way less of us than there are males. But any of the women I’ve just listed I couldn’t even hope to try and mimic because they’re all so unique. For me, one of my main goals this year is to just link up with all these amazing women. Anyone female, coming from the UK and who’s got a good vibe…I’m rooting for you!