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Mia Taylor Is Breaking Out With Her Soca Sound

“Island girl in New York” Mia Taylor wants to bring her culture’s music to the masses. She breaks her sound down for Audiomack World.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

Mia Taylor was afraid to start singing. The 23-year-old Soca artist blends R&B with her Caribbean roots to make ear candy, but her first foray into singing was a complete accident. Starting her creative career as a dancer, Mia Taylor only started singing seriously at 14 when she met her mentor Coco Sarai, known for her work with Anderson .Paak.

“She asked me, ‘Do you want to be a singer, or do you want to be an artist?’” Mia recalls. “At the time, I had no idea what the difference was. She was like, ‘A singer sings, but an artist creates a vision.’ That changed my whole perspective on my career. I wanted to be an artist, write my own music, and create my stories. That’s when it started, and I wanted to be Mia Taylor.”

The process of being Mia Taylor involved a brief moment of virality at 17, admission to Berklee College of Music, and most recently, breakout single “Mango,” which honors Mia’s Caribbean heritage and takes a stab at toxic situationships. The single has gotten national love—NPR is a fan—and has that gummy texture that makes you want to dance. As “an island girl in the city,” the New York artist has her sights set on bringing Soca music to the mainstream and helping audiences understand Soca is not reggae, it is not Afrobeats, it is a genre all its own with a rich history.

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What’s the Mia Taylor origin story?

My goal was to be a singer, but I was so afraid to sing. I studied dance for 15 years—I started when I was three and ended my senior year of high school. I was part of a musical, and one of my instructors told me to sing. I was 10, and once I sang, everyone was like, “Your voice is beautiful!” I finally mentioned to my grandma I wanted to sing, and she took me seriously.

How long did it take you to realize you could sing-sing?

When I was 17, I dropped a cover of a Fetty Wap [song], and it went a little viral. I didn’t expect that much love. And, when I got into Berklee College of Music! I didn’t have as much training as I thought [I needed], because I practiced dance my entire high school career. When I auditioned and got in, I was like, “Okay, I feel a lot better and more confident. My voice is pretty good.”

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If you had to explain Mia Taylor to someone who’s never heard your music, how would you bring them into your world?

I always tell people that I’m an R&B and Caribbean artist. I’m an island girl in the city—I still have a New York vibe. My island side is my culture, it’s my family. I’m meshing both, so people get a good understanding of what Caribbean and Soca music is.

Soca music is so different from reggae, Afrobeats, and it’s not super mainstream. I always introduce myself as a Soca artist, because I want people to understand it’s its own genre. As a Soca and R&B artist, I can really help make it mainstream and give people a clear understanding of Soca.

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“Mango” feels like a breakout single. How do you feel watching that happen in real-time?

It’s surreal. I work, work, work, and don’t stop and say, “Wow! Look at how much people are listening.”

I’ve been working on “Mango” for the past year and a half. To see this outcome feels really good. I feel relief, and like my hard work paid off. This single means so much to me, and I put a lot of time into it.

When you were making “Mango,” did you feel like this was going to be the single?

I was confident in the song. Sometimes, you just know when you make something genuine, that feels great. I took my time writing it because I was very protective of it—I didn’t expect it to get as much attention as it has, but I had a huge vision for it.

What kind of intentions do you want to set for your success?

To keep making music and being authentic to myself. Honing into myself and my Caribbean culture, and bringing vibrant music to people. I want my music to be positively impactful. I want to encourage people to be happy—life is gonna be life, and you can’t control it, but music heals.

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