This month, Gia teaches us about resilience, passion, and finding inspiration everywhere you look (but mostly, where you’re not looking for it). Listening to her ambient album Mia Gargaret leaves us with the same feeling as the end of this interview: we can & will (!) make it through winter. Enjoy <3
Hi Gia! We’re so happy to get to talk to you, finally :-). We’ve been trying to connect for some time now. You are such a talented musician– your music has an effervescent quality that makes you feel both like you’re in a dream and like the real, tactile world is less of a collection of objects and more like a collection of sensations. It’s beautiful, a little moody, and very poignant. Can you share with us a bit about how you began making music?
I am so glad to finally speak and thank you for the beautiful words about my music. I began creating at a pretty young age. I’m pretty sure I begged my parents for music lessons shortly after I learned to speak. I really wanted to play the harp initially, (I still do) but my parents bought us a piano. I played classical music growing up but I have pretty early memories of composing my own songs when I should have been practicing. I didn’t really start writing lyrics or singing until college. I discovered Garageband on my roommate’s MacBook and something in my brain chemistry changed from that point on. Throughout my 20s I developed my sound more by experimenting with recording, producing and being at play with new instruments. I gained some confidence by posting songs on the internet and I acquired a very encouraging audience there. That felt like a gentle way to share being that I have always had stage fright. But from there I began to collaborate with musicians and recorded music for others as well. I played in a lot of different projects locally and over the internet and that always helped me develop new skills. I tried to be consistent with my writing even though I almost always had two (or more) jobs. I am still learning and exploring new parts of myself as a musician so in a way I feel like I am perpetually a beginner. But that aside, it has been affirming to think that somehow I arrived where I am and have the career I have because of my life long devotion to music.
Music, like any type of art, is an expression of self, experience, and emotion. In 2020, a year filled with many woes, you released your stunningly beautiful and playful ambient album Mia Gargaret. Can you tell us about your history with ambient music, composition, and how the album turned out the way it did?
I actually made that record in 2019 before any of this madness. The record was born from such a painful time in my life that I couldn’t possibly have imagined that things could be worse! (Little did I know...) I made Mia Gargaret while recovering from a vocal injury and while stuck at home when I should have been on my first headlining tour. The entire situation was a shock to my entire identity and body. I honestly think I made the album because I was bored and my creativity was begging for more from me. I bought my first synthesizer a few months prior to being on vocal rest and because I had been touring so much, I never had the chance to get to know it better. And so, I started to sit with it more. I twisted knobs and created loops to play throughout my apartment to self soothe. I realized I had a natural knack for building little sonic worlds to (quite literally) live in. And then I realized I had all these other tools/instruments to make use of and I began to build the album. As the songs were collected I felt like a real musician again. Maybe the music sounds playful because I was clinging to any sense of joy I could find at that time. I truthfully hadn’t listened to a lot of ambient music before making this record. I always had an interest in making instrumental music and I suppose all the synthesizers helped me lean into the genre.
There is a certain release that accompanies music, just as much for the listener as for the musician themselves. Be it joy, tears, energy, or tranquility– it brings us to experience sentiments both hidden deep inside and brimming at the surface. Do you have any people, places, or memories you turn to for inspiration in creating such an experience?
Sometimes one song can hold so many things inside of it. When I write it is often after so much reflection and internalizing that so many emotions can come up at once. It can be months after writing something that I will really understand the meaning. A lot of my music (so far) has been inspired by either a difficult experience or a loving one. Sometimes those two things can intertwine as well. I guess I don’t know where to put the stronger feelings I have and music has always helped me make sense of things in a way that feels gentle and useful. A loving gesture or person can inspire me so much. When I am able to receive love I am the most in tune with myself. When I am able to slow down and be present and take in my surroundings I feel like I can tap into a higher level of creativity and focus. I think I am also so inspired when I am feeling small in nature. To be absolutely in awe of the sky or notice the aliveness of a green landscape or to stare out at a big body of water and take in its endless rhythm. I don’t mean to go off the deep end but being outside has been the most regulating tool for my nervous system. Ultimately when I am calm, I am creative. In the end though, it is so hard to pinpoint inspiration because it can really surprise me at any moment. Recently I wrote something that was fueled by something/someone that made me angry. It was the ultimate catharsis and something I haven’t been able to tap into with my music thus far.
We’re so close to spring we can taste it over here in Oregon. Flowers are blooming, the sun lingers a bit later in the evening, and we’re reminded of the turning seasons and the new opportunities they bring. What are you looking forward to this season? Do you have anything special you do to take care of yourself during transitional times like these?
I am envious. This winter has felt never-ending here in Chicago. (It’s supposed to snow tomorrow!) I bet it is so beautiful where you are. I am totally in love with the Pacific Northwest and hoping to come back in the warmer months. A dear friend of mine lives close to Seattle on Bainbridge Island. Being with a good friend will always feel like the ultimate self care. I told myself a trip will be my reward for finishing one of the two records I am working on. After that, I am looking forward to switching gears creatively. Music aside, I’ve been warming myself with hot yoga again for the first time since before the pandemic. I feel like it’s preparing me for more active times ahead and I’m coming out of hibernation with more strength as well. I also welcome the endorphins when the cold won't quit.
Gia on Instagram: @giamargaret
Photos by: Rachael Glasder (of @_rawson)