In Conversation With: Haviah Mighty

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Haviah Mighty is an artist who over the years, has continued to impress fans alike while constantly reinventing herself to newer audiences. Raised in a musical household in Brampton, Ontario, Haviah Mighty started singing at the age of 4, rapping at 11, and producing at 15. She was briefly one-third of the women-led group The Sorority, but her career as a solo artist has been equally successful.

In 2017, Haviah Mighty gained viral triumph upon the release of her project Flower City, which page homage to her hometown. Amongst various other accomplishments, her song “Vámonos” appeared on HBO’s hit series, Insecure, in 2018. That same year, Mighty was declared the winner of the prestigious Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class, which further propelled her into the spotlight. Now, as she continues to put her talent on display, Haviah is stepping into a new rhythm with the release of her project Stock Exchange.

Stock Exchange will follow Haviah’s 2019 Polaris Music Prize-winning album, 13th Floor. Her mixtape is an international endeavour that will include collaborations with Yizzy, Jalen Santoy, and TOBi amongst others from across the globe. “On the project, I reflect heavily on coming into my version of ‘success’ and the recent growth that I’ve been fortunate to have,” Haviah Mighty shares. “So of course these things are of utmost value to me – but finding that balance of recognizing that the business does not reflect the person.”

For our latest interview, we chat with Haviah Mighty about her forthcoming album, pre-release single “Flamenco,” doing features, and much more! Check it out below.

You’ve already reached incredible success at a young age, but do you ever feel pressured to establish yourself in the industry, or are you taking more of a fluid approach?

I’m definitely taking a fluid approach! As much as I do feel the pressure to establish myself in this industry, I think the only way to truly occupy the space you’re meant to, is to do it organically and fluidly.

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments to date?

Probably my 6th project, 13th Floor! It solidified my name as a talented musician in Canada and has been recognized by many entities as a strong body of work. I’m very proud of it!

It’s been a bit over two years since the release of 13th Floor—what was the most memorable experience you had while working on that project or putting it out?

The most memorable experience regarding 13th Floor was post-release; winning the Polaris Music Prize. I couldn’t fathom that I could actually walk home the winner that night, and I’m still humbled by that experience. To create an album that speaks to often dismissed narratives, and then to have that album being recognized on such a widely recognized platform, not to mention being the first black woman and first hip-hop artist to win… it’s all kinds of firsts for me.

Let’s talk about your new single, “Flamenco.” How would you describe putting this track together with Mala Rodríguez, and what is an ideal setting you’d like your fans to listen to the song in?

We put this track together remotely…well, Mala’s part! To take it back, I was working in a music retail store with the producer, Taabu. Initially, he showed me the production one day while at work, and I thought it was incredible! At the time, it was intended for another artist that he was working with, and I remember saying to him “If they don’t take this beat, it’s mine!” Well, their plan never fleshed out and Taabu followed up and gave me a chance at the record. He had actually called the production ‘Flamenco’ and we had a discussion about the influences, guitar sounds, and overall mood inspiration.

When I wrote my part, I continued to build on that mood and energy, including lyrics that speak to the necessary connection we’re all missing. As the song was coming together, I felt that an artist with Spanish roots could speak to the energy of the song more directly and authentically than I ever could. My publishing A&R, Melanie, had suggested Mala and made the connection.

From there, we just had to wait for the right time…. and a few months later, Mala was able to get into the studio to cut her verse. She did it, sent the files, and then the producer and I hopped on Zoom and finalized the song with her vocals. We added claps to the whole track and re-produced her section to really amplify the dancy feel. We played with Reggaeton/Afrobeats energy as well, intended for this song to light up the dancefloor. So that would definitely be the ideal setting I’d want the fans to listen to the song in…. on the dancefloor!

With your new project Stock Exchange on the way, what do you want fans to take away from it upon first listen?

I want the fans to first recognize that I am an eclectic artist who is willing to experiment with different sounds and genres all for audible gratification. It’s really about the music first for me. I want the fans to feel that.

Can you explain how you came up with the title and what it means to you?

‘Stock Exchange’ was initially a bundle of singles, anti-theme/anti-concept, and I really just wanted to put a bunch of records out that sounded good, and resonated with different groups of people. My previous record, 13th Floor, was very concept-heavy, so I wanted to approach writing in a different way this time around. I started rolling out individual singles in November 2020, month to month, but by February of 2021, I started seeing a theme in how we had to process the ‘success’ of each single post-release. With each song came a different digital response; but all the responses were digital. How many likes did this song get? How many streams? How many comments? What about shares?

I didn’t realize how integral live performance was in being able to feel the impact that I was making as an artist. It validated me, and when the pandemic set in, I had to figure out how to validate myself. Without the beauty that comes with authentic human-to-human connection, we’re left in these digital spaces that often reflect these weird curated and false realities. I felt shaken by the lack of shows and interviews and a bit fearful that the ruthless internet was the only ‘validator’ of my worth as an artist.

We’ve grown to accept this random data (followers, subscribers, etc) as truth. These statistics that we use to compare ourselves to others and to define our successes have become proof of our worth. It’s all perception. These ideas around perceived value got me thinking about the Stock Exchange. Seeing parallels between the way it flows – the constant rising and falling – all dictated by the general public’s perception of an entity’s value, and ultimately how that influences the moves that we make as individuals.

These perceived values get crossed when the asset is a human, and I started to have to remind myself that the perceived value of something I did, doesn’t speak to my value as a human or as an artist in the real world. Thus, Stock Exchange felt like the perfect title because each song feels like a stock – the industry feels like a market – this new age of communication feels like our validation – and sadly it is, in many ways, from a business perspective.

You’ll notice on the project, I reflect heavily on coming into my version of ‘success’ and the recent growth that I’ve been fortunate to have, so of course, these things are of utmost value to me – but finding that balance of recognizing that the business does not reflect the person. It is an industry, and I am a business within that industry, and it’s no deeper than that.

Throughout your career, you’ve kept your features pretty close to home andt tight-knit. Are there any names that you dream of working with in the future and why?

Yeah, I haven’t done too many features in the past, but wanted to try new things with ’Stock Exchange’. There are lot more collaborations on this project! I’d love to work with so many people, but I dream of working with Young Thug, YBN Cordae, Anderson .Paak, Missy Elliot, Ty Dolla Sign, Skrillex, Beyoncé, Drake, Kanye West. It’s quite an extensive list and the more I think about it, the more names that come to mind. Any artist that I feel is insane within their own artistic pocket… I’m inspired by them, and want to share art with them. Period.

Getting to this point in your career obviously hasn’t happened overnight—what advice would you give someone in regards to having faith that things will work out or chasing success?

If you don’t believe, no one else will and it’s literally that simple. Nothing in this life is guaranteed, but if you don’t believe it can happen, it most certainly can’t. So start by developing the faith that you deserve the dreams you’ve conjured up in your mind. Once you know it’s yours for the taking, your actions will follow. And so, too, will the success.

Elsewhere in music news, check out our interview with BJRNCK!