Mia Brubakken (a.k.a. MIIA) is 18 years old. She’s been a working musician for four years. She has a skyrocketing new single called ‘Dynasty’. She’s making frequent trips to Hollywood to build on an already monumental career in Norway. And she’s 18 years old. It just goes to show you that — all other things being equal — when you have it, you have it. Give MIIA’s music even the most cursory listen, and there is no question she’s bringing something new and exciting to the table. She’s already a celebrity in her own country, and her fame won’t stay confined there much longer. Even Billboard is calling her a “Pop star in the making.” And it doesn’t hurt that her latest single has gotten nearly 2 Million Spotify streams in less than three months.
Every once in awhile talent and relevance align early on, and when that happens you end up with someone like MIIA: A young artist who finds her voice and her audience at the same time. It’s the kind of alchemy that pop stars are made of.
Below is our conversation with the kind and talented Mia Brubakken about her life, her work, and her dreams for the future.
MB: You’re in Norway right now?
Mia: Yeah. It’s about 6 p.m. here. I’ve just been at school doing homework in the library, but I’m home now.
Where do you go to school?
Well, it’s like high school, although we have a different system here.
What’s it been like having ‘Dynasty’ blow up?
It happened so recently — two months ago or something. But I actually recorded ‘Dynasty’ a year and a half ago. It was a long process to get it out, but the song means so much to me — to all of us. When I first heard the song, I knew it was the kind of music I want to be doing. Something in the middle of Sia, Lana Del Rey, and Adele where there is still a bit of empty room, you know? I want to fill it. Do my own thing. We started getting a lot of attention for the song, and my uncle was bombarded with emails and stuff. It’s been fun.
Have you ever been recognized?
Yeah, in Norway.
Is that weird for you?
I get a little embarrassed. But of course I’m happy people like me and listen to my music, whether they’re 5 years old or 60 years old. I think it would be very cool to be recognized in L.A. one day.
LISTEN TO MIIA’S MUSIC
I read that you got your first record deal at 14. Had you been doing music for a long time before that?
I started singing when I was five. I was singing in the church choir, and then I took lessons and joined a pop gospel choir. I’ve always liked singing. I’ve been doing it my whole life. I grew up listening to a lot of jazz: Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, Frank Sinatra, a lot of different stuff. And of course I listened to a lot of pop.
When I was 14, I went to visit my uncle in L.A., and he wanted to try out some songs and see how it went. We recorded a few basic pop songs, and it went very well. I went back in the fall of that same year and recorded an EP, In the Light of Love. We got a few placements with an episode of the Kardashians’ show and MTV programs, and then it played on the radio in Norway.
Your uncle is a musician?
He’s a producer, so he knows how to record. And Hillary Bernstein, my songwriter, wrote a lot of songs with my uncle when they were a couple. Even though they’ve broken up now, they still work together. So the three of us, we’re the… I don’t know how you say it… we’re the “team.”
What have your trips to L.A. been like?
When I’m in L.A., it’s totally different, like a dream. I’m at the studio all the time, working on music and meeting a lot of people. In Norway I work on music too, but it’s at school and at home.
I’m making the music I want to make now. And I believe it’s something different, something that fills that empty space.
A lot of 18-year-olds daydream about being famous pop stars. But you’re already there. So what do you daydream about?
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m on top of the world with my music, but I’m trying to get there. So I still daydream about being a successful singer. I daydream about being an actor, being in movies or on Broadway. That would be amazing. That’s like my second dream. I’d love to perform all over the world. I guess I daydream all the time. I’m a dreamer.
What’s your favorite part of all this?
These new songs are what I want to be doing. They’re what I want to show people. I love performing. I’ve loved it since I was in church choir. But performing my own songs — my lyrics and Hillary’s lyrics — is going to be the best part.
Have you been surprised by how things have gone since you got signed so young?
In the beginning I thought it would all go a little faster. I thought more would happen in Norway, but it didn’t. People knew who I was, but it wasn’t until ‘Dynasty’ that everything came together. I think it’s because the song is unique. My old songs are good, but they’re normal pop songs — stuff you hear all the time. I had a feeling ‘Dynasty’ was going to change things, but it took so long to get it out that I started to lose faith a little bit.
Would you have changed anything starting out?
I could have started writing songs earlier, but I wasn’t ready to write out my feelings. And I didn’t have the same belief back then that this could become something big. So even if I could have given myself some advice, I don’t think it would have made any difference. I’ve grown so much since I was 14.
I have confidence, but you never know what you’re going to get. You never know what will happen. I’m making the music I want to make now. And I believe it’s something different, something that fills that empty space. At least I hope it will. But you can never be sure.
It was truly refreshing to spend some time to chat with Mia, particularly at this point in her career, making a transition to stardom with a skyrocketing single. She’s already a massive success in Norway, dealing with the reality of her own fame, and now she’s bringing her talent to the U.S.
Her positive outlook and passion are nothing short of contagious, and bleed into her amazing music. If anyone hasn’t heard of MIIA before, they’re sure about to — but those numbers are getting fewer and fewer.