US TO UG: Mya Marie Harrison, an American singer and songwriter, will headline this year’s Johnnie Walker All Music Safari. Known for songs such as Case of the Ex, Fallen, My Love is Like Wo and a catalogue of collaborations with rappers and dancehall artistes, Mya says she does not mind being referred to as only R&B artiste because that’s how she was introduced to the world. She talked to Andrew Kaggwa about performing in Uganda.
1. You have done music that crosses from rap, pop, soul and RnB, How would you define your sound? And do you find it boxing when media across the world refers to you as only RnB?
My sound is versatile. I create from the heart and do what feels good, ranging from RnB, soul, gospel, acoustic, funk, country, rock, jazz, disco, house, reggae, dancehall, soca, lover’s rock, afro beats, EDM, etc. Music is a universal language and it is limitless. But being that Rn’B is how I was initially introduced to the world, I never mind being referred to as an Rn’B artist. Only you as a person can limit yourself, not a title that others place upon you.
2. You created Planet 9, an independent label – tell us about your transition from being signed by a major label to basically managing yourself.
I created both a management company, Hue Entertainment in 2004, after parting ways with some not so good people who were managing me and then started my own record label Planet 9 when I left the major label system in 2007 after an ‘accidental’ album release.
3. Your 2018 album T.K.O. celebrates 20 years of your music career and on songs like The Fall, it’s not hard to imagine you were celebrating your own classics like Fallen. What new things did you learn about you and your music while making this album?
The T.K.O. was more of a dedication and gift to my Rn’B fans to commemorate our 20 years together with a solid body of work in the contemporary Rn’B space. Prior to that project, I released Smoove Jones which was a traditional Rn’B album.
4. Which artistes inspired you while writing this album?
A hint of DC Go-Go music elements with Open featuring Goldlink, 90’s Rn’B artistes like Mint Condition on Damage, Mary J. Blige on Simple Things, Aaliyah on Ready For Whatever, R. Kelly on Ready Part III, 80s’ big ballad productions on If Tomorrow Never Comes, 70s’ artistes like Teddy Pendergrass on T.K.O. Interlude, and Prince on Knock You Out.
5. In the 20 years of your career, you have written and released a lot of music. But you have also written, recorded and not released some songs. What happens to your unreleased records?
I like to perform unreleased records in certain settings to test out the reaction and demand. Many also stay in the vault until they are ready to be put out to the universe. I also license them out to film and television networks for specific projects that could need such music.