Having already become a teenage YouTube drumming sensation, 15-year-old multi-instrumentalist Mia Morris is impressively going it alone with her solo rock career. Just to put it in context – Mia has 37,000 subscribers on YouTube, got an offer to fill in as drummer for The Ataris when she was just 13, then set about learning the other instruments required to write and record her own music.
Her latest single What Made You Famous is an impressive representation of her solo music, featuring super-catchy singalong vocals and big dirty, fuzzy guitars. It opens up with big fuzzy bass and guitar that continue under Mia’s engaging vocals, then a cry of “Did you forget what made you famous?” drops into cool “Na na na, hey hey” vocals.
A second chorus ends with the instruments dropping out leaving just Mia’s vocals and clapping. Then the dirty bass and guitars gradually build up to loops of “What made you famous” then hits of heavy guitar and drums give way to more loops of the same vocals over a piercing guitar lick. Check it out in the video below:
Watch her ridiculously good playalong of the drums in Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher when she was just 13 – which was largely responsible for igniting her YouTube success – below:
We had a chat with Mia to find out more about her musical background and her plans for her music. Read on below…
GR: We’ve seen your following on YouTube and now you’re progressing to a solo career – but can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
MM: “I’m a 15-year-old multi-instrumentalist born in Indianapolis, IN. I started primarily as a drummer and began posting YT videos as a way to inspire me to practice. After a couple of years, I began to add other instruments so that I could do full song covers.
“When I was 13, I posted a video of me playing the drum part on Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher and it went viral. I began to get calls to sit in with real bands like G-Love and The Ataris prior to any real following on YT. Right before I turned 13, my family moved to Nashville in part so that I could study with Chester Thompson at Belmont and so I could get exposure to the real business of music.
“My following started primarily from my drumming but has really grown in the last 12 months as I’ve begun to play a lot more full song covers and original full songs. I play every instrument on everything that I release which, like the drumming, was always just so that I could get practice playing other instruments and learn how to arrange, write and record with them. I’ve got a long way to go and am pretty much a hack at most of them but they all have common facets that help me improve quicker as i practice each one.”
GR: You just released What Made You Famous. What should people be expecting from the song?
MM: “I’ve been writing a bunch this summer while school was out and I’ve always been a huge Jack White fan. I’ve released maybe 10 other songs over the last two years but I was just beginning to learn how to craft a song so stylistically, they were all over the place and I was just trying to make something not too terrible without the ability to shape the vibe or genre.
“After some experience, I’m beginning to be able to weave in more of what I like into my originals without quite as much struggle to write. I’ve recorded a bunch of other stuff in my basement and will still release music that moves around in styles because I still find myself loving a wide variety of music and I don’t fight it if I sit down to write and a reggae song comes out. I know some people will like me to stay in a specific lane but I don’t see that coming anytime soon.
“The subject matter of the song is about how I hate that I see so many ridiculously talented artists and musicians in Nashville who don’t find success and then look at my phone to see people get famous without any noteworthy talent or at least a useful contribution. It’s certainly not always the case but it’s not as rare as I would hope. The saving grace of that sort of baseless fame is that it doesn’t last.., and people like to watch that crash as well, so maybe that’s part of it.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
MM: “I would say my sound pulls from the riot grrrl and punk-pop genres mixed with the southern alt-rock of the Black Keys, Rival Sons and Jack White. Not really much of a surprise considering I’ve grown up playing drums to metal, classic rock and have played for over 100 Nashville artists since moving here two years ago. I play for at least 5 hours every Monday night as I’m the house Cajon player for a rotating show at the Listening Room in downtown Nashville every Monday night.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
MM: “My main influences are mostly people no one will ever know the names of. I love songwriters even more than entertaining artists or killer musicians. I’ve loved music all my life and it’s never been any single genre. what I finally understood is, I love well-written songs, therefore, great songwriters. I care a lot less what genre it fits in than if a song somehow conveys some sort of emotion that I can feel over and over again when I play the song.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
MM: “My favorite bands just make me look like a psycho. Foo Fighters, Vulfpeck, Brandi Carlile, Led Zeppelin, Ski Mask, The Police, Young Gravy. Honestly, I hear something I love a few times a week. I’m a sucker for a well-crafted song or an original voice.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
MM: “I’ll be releasing a new song every month for at least the rest of the year. I used to wait until I could shoot some sort of music video and I just can’t pull that off without them piling up with as much as I’ve been writing and recording. I record all this stuff in my basement on Ableton and I play and sing all of the tracks so the songs pile up.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
MM: “To get a better sense of what I’ve been doing in music since moving to Nashville, I put out vlogs on my YT channel and they tell the story in quite a bit of detail. I’m going to be in the music business and I’m trying to make sure it’s as a songwriter first. I work a ton as a sideman and record for other artists as a studio player. I like being an artist because it gives me an excuse to write and record but if I had to choose today and forget the rest, I’d probably sit in a studio all day and make songs.
“Thanks so much for giving me a chance. I don’t plan on giving up and if this business is anything like learning to play an instrument, it’s just about putting in the work. I like doing that.”
It’s pretty clear that Mia has a ridiculous amount of musical talent and is highly capable of writing catchy rock music, so we’re excited to see what’s coming next from her.