Mitski on Life Before and After Critical SuccessEXPAND
Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Mitski on Life Before and After Critical Success

This Saturday, one of the hottest singer-songwriters in the nation, Mitski, will return to Miami for a show at Gramps, this time with a headlining slot she’s worked very diligently to achieve over the past few years.

The 26-year-old New York-based indie-rock artist released her first LP, Lush, in 2012, but it wasn’t until the release of Puberty 2 this past June that her career took a sharp trajectory directly into the hearts and minds of the general public.

The professionally trained SUNY Purchase grad, whose full name is Mitski Miyawaki, spoke to New Times ahead of her upcoming show. Unequivocally calm and thoughtful, she brushed off the hubbub surrounding her rising stardom and gushed over her last trip to South Florida.

New Times: Have you ever been to Miami or South Florida before?
Mitski: I did once when I opened for Hundred Waters. I honestly really, really loved it. It was everything Pitbull said it was. I went when it was colder than the rest of the U.S. and I loved immediately that it was warm. I grew up in a lot of tropical climates, so it felt like home — hot and kind of wet. And I love that. Everyone seemed much looser than they are in New York. After the show, I went out and had a nice time and people were nice. I think no one can really stay mad when it’s that hot.

Your background is much like Miami — very international. You moved around a lot when you were younger. Is there a former home you hold dear that you’d like to revisit one day?
Yeah, I mean, speaking of tropical climates, I really loved Malaysia, where I lived for three years as a kid, which was long for me because I usually only lived anywhere for a year, tops. It’s summer all year-round except for the rainy season. The food is amazing, and it’s so multicultural. But I haven’t been back in years, and maybe things are different now. I feel like the world might have caught how amazing it is there and it might be a lot more crowded.

Does your background of being a sort of nomad make you more comfortable when touring and visiting a new city for the first time?
I’m much better than the average person at arriving at a place and taking everything in and doing what I can with what’s around me instead of trying to enforce ideas about what should happen, what should be available. I go places and I’m like, OK, this is how things are here. I think that makes me better at it than maybe other people are who lived in one place.

How much of that — consciously or unconsciously — slips into your music?
I think it’s part of who I am at this point. On the other hand, I don’t think I can write an album where it’s just about living in New York — only one little part of my life. It’s not a conscious decision; my music is just who I am.

You’ve recorded four records in five years, correct?
I think? [Laughs]

Are you continually writing? Do you ever worry about burning out?
I think after every album, or rather during the making of every album, I’m always thinking, This is the last album I’ll ever make. I can’t do this anymore; I can’t write any more songs. And then, a year goes by and I look in my notebook and I realize I have enough songs for another album. I don’t feel like I’m ever sitting down and consciously writing to make an album; it’s just that time passes and I realize I have all these songs.

Why do you feel that every time you write one, it’s the final one?
I think it’s just an exhausting process for me, and I always think, whenever I write an album, this is everything I’m thinking. I can’t imagine ever thinking anything more. This is everything I could ever say about my life and myself. The thing is, people grow and have new experiences, and you can never really stop writing.

Speaking of new experiences, Puberty 2 has been a massive hit with critics. What is it like to have all of this attention heaped on you by new fans and the media?
It doesn’t really change my life; it’s just made me busier. It hasn’t changed my day-to-day life. I tour a lot more, and there are a lot more people at my shows, which I’m grateful for. All the critics' reviews and things people say online, stay online. If I don’t go on Twitter, I’m just a regular person.

Aside from an endless string of interviews, like this one, what’s been the biggest change in your life since Puberty 2 really took off?
Being more highly regarded by critics hasn’t changed my life. I still have to work, and I still have to brush my teeth and go to sleep and wake up and work again. What has changed is that I’m a lot busier. Being so busy, I don’t have time or energy to think about what people are saying or how I’m being received because I have to wake up at 4 a.m. to make it to the next city on tour.

Mitski. 9:30 p.m. Saturday, November 12, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com; Tickets cost $12 to $15 via ticketfly.com.

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