This coming Sunday, October 8th, Los Angeles indie rock singer/songwriter Miya Folick will be returning to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (where I recently found out she has some history) to headline The Foundry at The Fillmore. She’s currently touring ROACH, her second LP, which dropped this May on Nettwerk, and has her exploring a sound that she describes for me during a recent Zoom chat as, “a bit more of a raw, rough-around-the-edges, homemade feel,” than 2018 debut full-length Premonitions. The album has received praise from New York Times, Pitchfork, and NPR, and recently had her opening dates for Father John Misty and The Head and The Heart. Read what else she had to tell me about her latest music, what she’s been up to in the past five years, and one pretty surprising artist that she’s apparently quite the fan of.
Izzy Cihak: Since this is a Philadelphia publication, I have to ask your thoughts on the city, as you’ve played here a handful of times over the years. I didn’t realize you actually played Made In America, and I saw you twice in 2018, with Kate Nash and then Pale Waves.
Miya Folick: I love Philly. My sister and her husband lived in Philly for a while, and then moved to Cherry Hill, New Jersey for a long time. I’ve played in Philly a handful of times, and I’ve also just spent time out there visiting my sister… I love it. Obviously, I don’t know it that well, because I’ve never lived there. And I really do think you have to live somewhere to really know it. But it really strikes me as a city where people enjoy having fun, and I don’t think every city is like that. Like, there’s that place along the water where you can play games and be in the little hammocks… And maybe it’s my siblings and their friends, but I feel like every time I visited them we did so many activities, like playing board games or going rock climbing… There’s so many good places to get breakfast, which is a big thing for me; I like coffee and breakfast. And I like the way it looks. I like the architecture of it. So, yeah, I’m a fan!
Izzy: Earlier this year you dropped your sophomore LP, ROACH, which I’m just realizing was five years after your debut, which is kind of a while… How do you feel like ROACH compares to Premonitions, both in terms of sound and just the process of writing and recording it?
Miya: I mean, they’re so different in so many ways… I mean, obviously I made both of them, so I am the through line. It’s interesting, I like both of them equally. I think Premonitions was a very meticulous process of creating this very high-fidelity pop crossover album, that I think just sounds amazing. Like, the recordings are pristine. When you listen to it, it’s just so, so meticulously edited and crafted, which I think is cool, and was an interesting process to be a part of.
But I think after I made that, I was really craving a bit more of a raw, rough-around-the-edges, homemade feel. And so I feel like ROACH was kind of a response to that. Like, I wanted it to feel almost unfinished in certain ways. And, of course, it’s so funny how it took so long to make this thing that almost feels unfinished [laughs]. I didn’t want it to feel so meticulous.
But, honestly, the reason it took so long for it to come out had more to do with like boring industry stuff, and less to do with the creative process. It was just like COVID happened, and I got dropped from Interscope and had to find a new label. It just takes a long time to do anything, because it just takes a long time to navigate the business side of the music industry.
But I think creatively, ROACH was more like… I made it with a lot of different people. I made it with a lot of my friends, I made it with a lot of people who are new friends, who have become my friends. I think it also was the beginning of a new process as an artist, for me. I have just started trusting myself more to be the executive producer of everything/producer, just working with my friends, and not everything needs to be this like big production that somebody else organizes and executes, which doesn’t even feel that good for me. I love Premonitions, and the people who worked on it are incredible. I just think that, for my brain and the way that I like to work, and because I have so many very talented friends who are musicians, I’d rather do this scrappier thing. Asking your friends to work on things, putting it together myself feels better.
And, of course, I worked with producers on ROACH. But, I think, in general, figuring out who is gonna play on everything, where are we gonna do it, organizing all of that fell to me, and I enjoy doing that. I prefer being the person responsible. But I think sonically ROACH is a bit rawer and rougher around the edges in a way that I was craving after Premonitions. But there’s definitely a pop sensibility to my songwriting, so I think there’s still that pop element to some of the songs, but it definitely has more of an indie rock feel.
Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to the songs on the new album, whether it be things critics have said, things fans have told you, or even just live audience reactions?
Miya: There’s been so many touching moments with fans, even just people DMing me stories about their lives. They all feel so personal, like too personal to share [laughs]. Ya know what I mean? I feel like I am a music artist and, therefore, have decided that there’s a certain amount of this public, vulnerable element to my personal life. But then when people will tell me stories, I feel like those are private. They didn’t sign up for that [laughs]. But there’s been so many things that people have shared with me. Like, sometimes people will write cards and bring them to shows. It’s all very sweet. Or DMs about their personal struggles that they have related to in the music. When I get a DM like that, it definitely makes my day! It feels like, “Ohh, this is why I do this!” [laughs].
Izzy: You recently released a live cover of Papa Roach’s “Last Resort.” I’m assuming it had something to do with the “roach” connection, but how did that idea come about?
Miya: We were playing an album release show in Los Angeles, and I thought it would be fun. It just seemed obvious [laughs]. That song is so intense. It was interestingly difficult to figure out how to cover, because the lyrics of the song are so serious. It’s about suicide, or suicidal ideation, which I don’t think is a topic that should be taken lightly. But I think because of the kind of over the top passion of that song, and also the way that it’s sung, I felt like, “I need to make sure this cover doesn’t feel like a joke.” Like, it has to be serious, because I don’t want it to come across like I’m making fun of this song, because that was not the intention at all, ‘cause I actually think it’s a very great song!
Izzy: That was gonna be my next question!
Miya: Yeah, yeah! I really like the song. But I think what it is is I found that if I tried to sing the lyrics like him, it starts sounding like an accent, so I had to figure out how to sing it in my own voice, so it didn’t feel like I was singing in an accent [laughs]. You know what I mean? So, it was kind of strangely difficult to figure out how to cover, but we just thought it would be fun to play. It’s an iconic song!
Izzy: You recently wrapped almost a month of dates with Father John Misty and The Head and The Heart. How did those dates go?
Miya: They were so fun. I had the best time. They’re so nice, everybody in their crews and the bands. Everybody was really nice, really fun to hang out with. And we were like going through a lot of these towns that I’d never played in before. Like, I’d never played in Bend, I’d never played in Vail… And a lot of the towns were like cool, outdoorsy towns. So, we spent a lot of time in the river, in the creek, going to swimming holes [laughs]. It was really fun. I got very tan.
Izzy: You’re just about to kick off a headlining run, which I’ve actually never seen. Are there any dates you’re especially excited about on this run, whether it be towns where you always do good shows, or haven’t been, or just venues that you really like?
Miya: I think on this tour I’ve been everywhere that we’re playing, but I’m excited to play Philly. It truly is like one of my favorite cities to play. I love playing Philly, I love playing Washington DC, I love playing in Atlanta. I don’t want to leave anybody off [laughs]. Wait, one sec, let me look at the schedule, like get it in front of my face…
Izzy: We’re toward the end, I think…
Miya: Yeah, you’re towards the end. You usually are, because we usually start on the West Coast. It’s funny, because I live on the West Coast, but I love playing in the Midwest and on the East Coast and in the South, for some reason [laughs]. I feel like those shows are so fun to me, and also I really like the way that the East Coast looks, and I really like Atlanta. I like the way that Atlanta feels. Yeah, every place we’re playing I’ve been. I love playing Toronto, great food! I love playing Minneapolis and Chicago. Now I’m just like reading through all of these [laughs]. I love playing New York. New York’s always fun. I think these are good cities. We’re going through cities I’ve played a bunch, and I think that also makes a difference. When I’ve played places many times, the crowd is often familiar, people I’ve seen before. And it’s fun!
Izzy: What can be expected of the show on this tour, in terms of setlist, production, or even just the general vibe of the night?
Miya: It’ll mostly be ROACH, but I’ll also be playing a few Premonitions songs, I’ll also be playing some brand-new songs, that aren’t on ROACH. And I might play a song off of Strange Darling if I feel like it [laughs]. And it’s a full band, it’s like a rock show. It’s a very traditional keyboard, guitar, bass, drums show.
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you, after these dates wrap? How are you hoping and planning to spend the very end of 2023, and maybe the start of 2024?
Miya: Working on new music and staying home, going for walks [laughs]. Working on music, that’s what I want to do.
*Get your tickets here.