We had the good fortune of connecting with ariadne mila and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi ariadne, what do you want your legacy to be?
As artists, we want to be known for our work; we want to leave behind something we’re proud of. I hope to be remembered as someone who wrote music that inspired and that moved others, as someone who was able to put into words what many others have felt. I hope to be remembered as an artist who wasn’t afraid to speak up about things that mattered. Because that’s why we create; we write because we have something to say. I hope to be remembered as an artist who was authentic, honest, and outspoken. And I hope to be remembered as a person who always tried her best to do good and to use her voice in a positive way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Sure! I’m a songwriter and musical artist. My music is sort of a chill pop, “vibe-y” kind of sound, with introspective lyrics. I love writing about all aspects of life–the good, the bad, and the messy. It’s important to me to write authentically and honestly. And I love writing about things that I think we all experience–the euphoria and hope when meeting someone new, the hard-won journey of resilience, the kind of hindsight only gained after distance. And of course, writing about my own personal experiences is cathartic for me. Earlier this year, I released a song called “yours / mine” and it’s one of the songs I’m really proud of, because it was my debut single and I’m proud of the work I did on it. I’m really excited about the upcoming music I have for 2022. It’s definitely more personal and speaks more to my experiences. I can’t wait to share it.
I also have a project with another artist, called This is Fine!. I collaborate with Daylen Brinkley, from the band Citizen Badger. We met through NSAI and we started writing songs together, and we both realized that we shared a lot of the same views on social and political issues. So our music for This is Fine! is really centered on political and social commentary–and we love that we’re creating art that makes an impact and speaks on important things. Earlier this year, we released a song called “Firecracker” about gender inequality and the patriarchy. And in 2022, we’ve got even more songs that touch on a range of issues, including racism, wealth inequality, and more. So I can’t wait for those either.
Songwriting began as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions–I started writing songs as a teenager, and then I realized how much I loved it. So I kept writing–my first few songs were a little cringe, as is the case when you’re an angsty teenager. But eventually, after writing, and writing, and writing some more–I found my voice and I found that I could express myself through songwriting. In college I actually studied English literature, thinking I was going to go into a different field, and for a while I did pursue a different career path. But music was always at the back of my mind, and I still wrote and I still played. And I always kind of wondered if music was a path I should take. I think it was a case of like, trying to ignore that little voice in my head saying that I should give this a shot, because there were so many what-ifs. But my passion for music outweighed all that, and I knew I’d always wonder if I didn’t try. And so one day, I decided, if not now, when? And that’s where it all started.
Looking back, I don’t regret the kind of roundabout way I ended up pursuing music. I think my time at university was so valuable; it nurtured the way I think about things, it inspired me to think about issues bigger than myself, and studying literature and doing so much writing also helped my songwriting. I think having a bit of life experience, and going into this a little older than if I had begun pursuing this in high school, was good for me. And I don’t think it’s ever too late to start pursuing your dreams. I think as you get older, too, you’re more grounded in who you are. You have a better sense of yourself and you’re less easily swayed by others. You know what you want. And that’s so important for pursuing any career, but especially a creative career like music. It’s important to know who you are, what you want, what your boundaries are. It’s important to know your worth and not sell yourself short. And I think having a strong sense of your self-worth as an artist is so important, because this industry is tough, and it is so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and feeling like a failure. There is nothing more useless and pointless than comparing yourself to others. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned on my journey is that, in any art, including music, there’s room for everyone. It’s not like a table, where there are only so many chairs. It’s more like a potluck, where everyone brings something and we all share. There’s room for every type of artist. There’s space for every voice. And there’s also time. You’re allowed to go at a pace that works for you. You’re allowed to do things on your terms, in a way that feels right for you. There’s no right or wrong way to pursue this. And success is so personal and looks different to everyone. I think if you’re going to pursue a career in music, one of the first things you should do is define what success looks like for you. Because the answer to that question will guide all of the decisions you make.
I was talking with a friend, Lauren Patton (who’s also an amazing songwriter), and we were both musing about how so many lessons you learn in music are also just general life lessons. It’s so funny how art and life are kind of two sides of the same coin. As we’ve both pursued our musical journeys, we’ve learned so much that can be applied to life. How the mind-body connection is so strong, so taking care of your body IS taking care of your mind, and consequently, your art. There are so many times when I’ve been recording a track, and if I’m stressed or tired, that comes across in the recording. But if I go into a recording rested and energized, it shows, and I end up with a recording that I love. How sometimes, if you’re stuck, it’s ok to walk away, gain some perspective, and come back fresh. How rest is just as important as the work itself, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for allowing yourself the time to recharge. And one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s ok to say no. Lauren shared a quote she loved, that now guides me as well, which is, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” Life is too short to do things you’re not excited and enthusiastic about. If you say no to things that don’t excite you, you make room for the things that do. Doing things you don’t like, “just to get it over with” should only be reserved for yearly medical exams and your taxes. If your gut says it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right. And so listening to my gut has been something that I’ve learned to do as I continue pursuing my career.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It’s all about the food. I’m Filipino and we love to eat. Koreatown ’cause we can’t miss Park’s BBQ. Historic Filipinotown. Spoon and Pork, or Kusina Filipina. Some Jollibee. Rinse and repeat.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have helped and supported me on my journey as an artist. Having a great support system is such an important factor in your journey, and I’m grateful to have met the people who have helped me along the way (and who continue to do so!). My mentors and friends at NSAI who have given me invaluable advice on songwriting. My co-writers, who inspire me, and who are much more than just co-writers; they are also dear friends who I am rooting for on their own journeys as artists as well. Daylen Brinkley, for being the best co-writer to tear down the establishment with. My vocal instructor Carol Westcott, my piano instructor Iby Kovács, and every music teacher I’ve worked with. I’m so grateful that I had amazing teachers/musicians who nurtured my passion for music, and their support and faith in me is something that continually keeps me going. And of course, Charlie Vela, the incredible producer and mixing/mastering engineer I’ve been lucky enough to work with, who helps take my vision and turn it into something beautiful. Thank you for your time, for your work, for late night mixing sessions and endless patience, for sharing my vision and caring about my music, and for taking my songs to another level. I’m so happy that we get to work together and continue creating cool things. And most importantly, shoutout to my friends and family–who buy my music even if it’s not their typical genre, who hype me up on social media, who give the best advice and who never fail to make me laugh, who root for my success and who help me when I’m down. It really does take a village, and I’m so grateful for mine.
Other: ariadnemila.bandcamp.com TikTok: @ariadne.tequila.mila