Mya K on her R&B Roots, Genre Blending & The Future [@MYA_KINLOCK]

Mya K on her R&B Roots, Genre Blending & The Future [@MYA_KINLOCK]

South London’s newest R&B star, Mya K’s sweet-yet-enticing vocals are normally found soaring over dark R&B production. For her latest track, ‘Call Me’, she’s gone in a new direction and taken inspiration from sensational genre, Amapiano. She chats to GUAP about the summer sizzler and more.

Kat: Talk us through your latest single ‘Call Me’, what’s it about, what inspired it and where did the Amapiano influence come from?

Mya K: That song was probably as much a surprise for me as it was for anyone that listens to my music because I’ve never really made an Amapiano-inspired track before, but this summer, I’ve just really been locked in with Amapiano tunes. I’ve just loved the genre and how much it’s grown. Also being half Nigerian, it’s expanded so much across Nigeria and Nigerians have taken it and put their spin on it too, so I was like, “Why not just have fun with it [and] try my own version?” It’s not traditional Amapiano, but it has the influence there and I [wanted to] have fun, experiment and try it out, so I did it. I never intended to release the song, but after I started playing it for a few friends, they were like, “Whoa, this is actually crazy,”. I’ve never made a song where people want to dance – my music in the past was more dark R&B – so seeing people dance I [thought] this is cool, I like this feeling, so [I] went ahead and released the track.

Kat: The music video is really cool – where did the vision for the visuals come from?

Mya K: For all my visuals, I always oversee everything – the moment I make the song I picture how I want the cover art, the video to look, any assets to look. I had so much fun making this song, I was in the studio vibing, had my camcorder out – just having the best day ever thinking “No limitations – this is literally what music is all about”. Seeing how it made everyone else feel, I was like “This has to be a fun video,”. My best friend [and] talented, amazing video director, Aisyah Octavia – she’s done a lot of work with some other great artists as well but I’m lucky to have her as a friend so shouted her and [We] came up with the whole concept. A friend lended us his apartment, put it in my friends’ group chat “Who can make it on this day?” and we literally had three days to make the video. The feel of the song was fun. I feel like you can see that when you watch the music video that, we’re all genuinely having fun on set and I hope it makes people want to dance.

Kat: Do you plan on fusing any other genres in the future?

Mya K: It’s so important to never stop having fun with it. The moment music becomes not fun or I’m not passionate about it anymore, it’s not interesting – that’s when I have to close that book. Hopefully that day never comes, I don’t think it will. Definitely in the future, you’ll be seeing more infusing of other genres because that’s what I’m all about. My vibe is keeping R&B at the centre of everything, but being influenced by things outside of that. Of course, being half Nigerian, Afrobeats is going to be a big part of my sound, whether I like it or not because it’s in my blood. It’s gonna find its way in there and definitely a lot of the music that you’re going to hear coming next has those Afrobeat drums, inspired by those R&B melodies, so yeah a lot more genre blending coming up. 

Kat: So you started music professionally at 10 years old in Nigeria, what was that like?

Mya K: I was born and raised in London, but for a couple years [I] moved to Nigeria where my mum lives. Went to Nigeria at 10 years old to see my mum, and I was singing on the balcony of the house because I think I wanted attention or something along those lines, just wanted someone to be like “You have a really good voice,” so I was just singing my heart out. Then, our neighbour walked past on the road and came and knocked on the door and was like, “You actually have quite a powerful voice. I would love to work with you and produce a few songs for you.” From there, I ended up producing songs with this guy that lives in my area and those were the first songs I ever recorded. He gave me so much experience of studio etiquette and what it’s like to be a recording artist rather than just singing in the shower [or] my room.

My mum believes in me so much and has always imagined me being a star – she supported me 100% and was like “Yep, I’m ready to manage you,” and was basically taking me around Nigeria. We also expanded the whole vision to London as well and was getting me as many music opportunities as possible. I did a lot of cool performances in my area. Then [I] took a break because I needed to focus on school and education was also important. My mum was like, “You can be a star but you need to be an educated star.” I’m glad she made that choice. I focused on school for a bit and then a few years ago I went to [the] BRIT [School], obviously it’s a creative college so I was coming back into my creative field and was exploring music again and now I’m here doing it full time basically.

Kat: What’s your artist producer relationship like with VELLI?

Mya K: He’s my favourite person in the world. . My good friends run a music management/events company called BPM Collective. They set up these writing camps regularly for artists and invited me down to one. I’d been there for like six hours; as I was about to leave, I walk into one of the rooms where the producers and artists are doing their thing. I hear this beat and I’m like, “I haven’t even seen this guy – where did this producer come from? What’s this beat that suddenly playing? I cannot go home right now,”. I went into the room, connected with the producer who happened to be VELLI and from then we’ve been locked in. [We’ve been] making some of the best music of my life, so our relationship is really strong. My dream for the past 22 years has been to find that producer that understands my sound and everything I imagine, he can conceptualise and bring it to life.

Kat: Who were you listening to that shaped your sound? Who are you listening to that you’d love to collaborate with?

Mya K: Growing up, a big influence on my music is that my parents loved music so much as well. When I was younger, I would be in the car with my dad listening to rock music, sometimes classical music – which is quite a juxtaposition. We’d be listening to Pink Floyd, the Beatles – he gave me that side of what’s cool and trendy in his world. Then, when I’d be in the car with my mum we would be listening to R&B or Gospel, because my mum – she loves her gospel and R&B. I’ve always had music around me and I feel like my parents’ music taste would be my biggest influences.

In terms of artists, it would always have to be Beyoncé. I remember seeing her on TV and I feel like it’s such a generic answer, but you have to give her props because of how well she’s done. One question my dad would always ask me whenever I had any questions, he would be like, “What would Beyonce do?” I’d be like, “Damn, what would she do? She probably wouldn’t give up now,” that would always be my driving force. I feel like I definitely have to give her flowers all the time.

Coming into the present, I’d love to work with A2 – I feel like if you’re in the music scene you need to know about him. I can’t think of anyone that he sounds like and that’s how I want people to describe me. I would love for people to be like “I actually can’t think of a Mya K song that sounds similar to XYZ,” I don’t know who A2 sounds like, he just sounds like A2. There’s a few other people I want to work with – some of the female rappers in the scene would be dope to collaborate with someone like ENNY or BXKS – she’s very cool as well.

Kat : What’s your next move?

Mya K: ‘Call Me’ has that Amapiano influence – people loved it so much, I was like “Am I about to become an Amapiano artist, is that what I have to do for the rest of my life?” Then I was like, “No, the whole reason I did that song was to have fun and to not limit myself,” and so I feel like as much as people have taken that in with open arms, I feel like they can welcome me with other sounds as well. What I want to do next is hone in to the R&B, which is the centre of everything I do; my roots and essential to Mya K. I feel like by [the] end of the year, start the new year, we’re gonna have a my first actual body of work. Next step is honing in that sound, crafting my sound, and then getting it out into the world.

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