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Mia Gladstone is a vibe. Or at least, that’s what she’s telling people when asked the inevitable ‘what kind of music do you make?’ question. She doesn’t want to be boxed into any one genre and she definitely isn’t making music or art for anyone other than herself. 

She’s the tenacious 20 year old who, after deciding college wasn’t for her, set up her own studio in her parents’ house and began honing her impressive craft – production, vocals, songwriting, a comprehensive skillset that lets her operate without the interference of industry bros or the typically male gatekeepers of pop’s higher echelons. 

Grow, Mia’s debut EP came out last month. Across seven tracks, the record serves as a kind of Mia Gladstone Manifesto – a radical shout out for self-love, acceptance and positivity in a pop scene dominated by cynicism and superficiality. To celebrate the achievement Mia collaborated with acclaimed photographer Maisie Cousins for a photo shoot published exclusively by Ladygunn below. 

With their dramatic, high contrast black and white tone, these photos make for an interesting departure from Mia’s typically technicolor aesthetic but we shouldn’t be surprised. As she puts it – “I don’t want to be this artist that you always associate with one thing. I kind of want to be associated with doing whatever the fuck I want.”

We talked to her about her creative process, being naked and the best way to deal with unsolicited dick pics. Read on for some seriously good advice.

I love the photos you and Maisie created –  What do they represent about you as an artist? 

To me they just represent freedom – me in my true essence, owning my body. I had never done a nude shoot before. I didn’t go into it expecting to be nude, I had brought so many outfits but Maisie suggested it and was so respectful. I just felt really powerful to be naked in this non-sexualised way.

We painted the background very freely, with no plan in mind, which is very aligned with how I make music – always experimenting.

Does being naked feel like a political or artistic statement or both? 

I would say it’s all of the above because it’s rooted in me just wanting to feel comfortable with myself. It’s totally a political statement in that people are always condemning women for showing their naked bodies and reducing us and making us feel like we should be ashamed of our forms.

So in posing like that I did feel I was making a political statement because it’s like ‘I’m here, I’m naked and it’s not in the manner that you would expect’. Usually when you see a nude woman it would be like a man sexualizing her but a man wasn’t involved in making this happen. This is totally my choice and it’s not like I’m posing in this way where I’m trying to be sexual.

Your artistic world seems very technicolor, what made you want to do these in black and white? 

Yeah! This has a totally different vibe to what I put out there. I’m always trying to experiment because I don’t want to box myself in. I don’t want to be this artist that you always associate with one thing. I want to be associated with doing whatever the fuck I want. they still feel very me because it’s rooted in who I am. The colors, and I guess every other aesthetic aspect is just extra. I really liked the fact that they were black and white – it feels like another side of me.

You recently had an issue with your Instagram account – can you talk about that? 

I was shadow banned, which means people who didn’t follow me when they searched my name had a very hard time finding my Instagram. Basically it made it look like I’d deleted my account. It happened at a time when I had just released my debut EP and I hadn’t posted anything that violated the guidelines in months. It was really shitty timing and I was gaining a lot of traction when this happened. I was so annoyed and it felt very targeted. There are literally porn stars on Instagram, which I have no problem with. I don’t believe in censorship as a concept, I don’t think anybody should be censored.

If Instagram is gonna censor anybody, they should censor everybody. They shouldn’t be targeting certain demographics, they target women who own their bodies and who aren’t sexualizing themselves. It’s weird. When Instagram realizes that you’re not doing it for the male gaze, that’s when they’re like, ‘Oh shit, hide her account’. It’s almost like it’s too radical and they don’t want to give people any ideas. 

What did you do when all this went down? 

I took it as a moment to step back and reevaluate what I’m doing and I was like, ‘okay, I’m not an Instagram artist. I’m not here to fucking succeed on Instagram. I’m here to like make music.’

So I  just refocused my attention on actually making music and not just constantly making content for social media because that shit is damaging in itself; just constantly creating something that’s very temporary. It’s a very weird thing because it’s not real life. 

Do you think there’s a danger young artists will become too reliant on it?

We put this emphasis on Instagram when in reality it’s not really translating to anything. You can have hella followers on Instagram and that doesn’t mean that you’re going to sell any tickets or anybody’s going to listen to your music. 

I had this thought that we’re going to look back on our lives and wonder what the fuck were we doing. We were literally just sitting on our phones. We’re living in a virtual world when real life is happening and the earth is dying.

It’s sad that we put such an emphasis on Instagram when there’s so much shit happening in the world that we need to get our heads out of our phones and just go outside and be part of humanity and not reduce ourselves to social media figures. 

Do you have any issues with trolls?

I deal with trolls a lot. I deal with a lot of disrespectful men and a lot of them are young. I receive a lot of unsolicited dick pics, which is the worst thing. I recently found a new way of coping with it though. Now, if a dude sends me an unsolicited dick pic, I just go to his Instagram, find his mom and I just DM her. I say, ‘Hey, your child sent me an unsolicited dick pic, It made me really uncomfortable. I just wanted to let you know.’

After that they’ll never fucking do that to another person.

Listening to the lyrics for Grow and Baby Don’t Worry they seem to convey the message that people shouldn’t be afraid to try and change and fuck up sometimes. I’m interested in that concept with the climate we’re in now – cancel culture and people being condemned so quickly on the internet. I wondered what your thoughts are on that. 

I’m definitely against cancel culture. I don’t think that ostracizing anybody helps anyone. 

It’s understandable to be upset when somebody does some fucked up shit but I think before you alienate somebody and make it so that they’re  written off as this person who can never change, you should see what you can do to try and bring awareness to them. When you write somebody off they’ll never grow. 

Like with cat-calling, I used to just be like ‘fuck you’ and now I’m like, ‘Yo, you’re making me so uncomfortable’, and sometimes it’ll start a conversation. I’ll be like, ‘I’m a human and you’re just viewing me as an object and this is why this is not cool. This makes women feel extremely uncomfortable and unsafe in our surroundings.’ I’ve actually gotten through to some people.

What is the overall message you want to convey with this EP?

I see Grow as just one big positive affirmation.The message is definitely love, which sounds like a cliche but that’s what it is – it’s an EP about self-acceptance and trying to have empathy for people. We need to come together in times like these.

You’ve said before that colors are a big part of your creative process – can you talk more about that?

Colours are a huge factor in my creative process. They just stimulate me on a different level. When I’m in a room that is super vibrant it affects the vibe of my music. I made “Grow” the song itself in my bright pink studio, pink ceiling, pink walls. Everything in there is pink. I feel that when I hear the song.

Do you think it’s important for women or younger artists to learn how to produce and be able to do every aspect of music production? 

Yes. I’m so passionate about this topic. When I first got into the music industry I was put in all these sessions where all these men were producing and it’s all these male songwriters trying to write fucking songs about female empowerment, which was so backwards.

I was working with all these producers online. All of them were men. And then I realized I didn’t want to have to wait for people to send me beats. And what they sent me was never the style that I envisioned for myself. But having the capability to produce and to actually execute what I wanna do, my ideas has been so helpful to me in owning the overall picture of what I’m doing and really having that creative control.


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