Ahead of her upcoming project, ‘Alpha Barbie,’ Ottawa Hip-Hop artist Mischa discusses her journey, the climate of today’s female Hip-Hop artists and more.
Lately, Ottawa has been putting pressure on the Hip-Hop scene and started creating diamonds, which has been noticed within he last two years as we’ve been blessed enough to see artists emerge like City Fidelia, Cape, Gutta King Chris and so on. But as our heads turn and our attention is undivided, you will notice an ‘Heiress’ bullying her way to represent the North’s ice cold bars. The capitol city’s very own Mischa has been scorching the mic on her tracks, and electrifying stages with her live performances.
Ever since her first EP, ‘Like Woah’, Mischa hasn’t shied away from the spotlight. From her colourful music visuals to her bone shattering lyrics, Mischa has found a way to express herself while making us say, “hold up, run that verse back again.”
As she prepares to release her second EP, ‘Alpha Barbie’, I got the opportunity to talk to her one on one. She opened up about the upcoming project and what we should expect from it. Putting a pause on the excitement of new music, we also discussed her journey, the climate of female Hip-Hop artists today and her producer along with fellow artists. Her answer to my last question was a personal favorite and speaks volumes to why her lyrical standards are so high!
‘Alpha Barbie’ is set to release on July 24th, 2020
XMPL: Describe what sparked your interest in music, and how that lead to your journey as an aspiring Hip-Hop artist?
Mischa: Since a young age, I’ve always loved music. Music has always found a way to make it into my life, whether it be listening to music at recess or dancing in my room. The genres that I grew up listening to are completely different than the ones that I love now but I honestly appreciate all genres of music. It wasn’t until I was 17 when I met my friend, Spiff, who got me into hip-hop that I considered making music for fun or writing for fun. I would always write down my thoughts as an outlet but never in a song format. Every time we hung out he would put on hip-hop instrumentals and freestyle over them. I was so captivated by this! So without telling anyone, I would go home and just put on random instrumentals and try to freestyle always trying to improve my skills with each take. But that’s what got me into thinking that I could write my rhymes down and potentially create songs. I didn’t have any knowledge of song structure besides from what I would hear. So in the beginning, I would just fill notebooks with rhymes instead of trying to structure out songs. This was all still a hobby for me. Something on the back of my mind that I would do after school here and there. I would freestyle at parties, write occasionally and eventually just rule it out as a phase of my life and stopped until 2016 when I met Jonny Brown and Vante Poems here in Ottawa. They were the ones that were making a splash in the music scene and motivated me to consider turning music into a career. I would go on to release my first cover in 2017 and then release my first original content in 2018.
What type of obstacles did you have to overcome when your first started writing and recording? Were there any people or methods that helped you overcome those obstacles?
I actually had so many obstacles when I first started creating music that almost turned me away from my own creations. For the first year and a half I had to battle my inner demons and work on the relationship I have with myself which is still an ongoing battle. I struggle with anxiety and depression and it is so easy to let that take over when you aren’t constantly building that self-love and care. As a female in the industry, I found a lot of people didn’t take me seriously when I was starting out. Building a network was tough, getting my first local show was tough, convincing people to truly listen to my music was tough but through it all, I persevered and continued to bet on myself. I realized that in order to get others to believe in me, I had to believe in myself. So from that moment on (February 2019) I made every choice of mine with my end goals and aspirations in sight.
Finding your footing as an artist and sharing your content with the world seems like a daunting task, yet you came out strong in 2019 with your single ‘Check’ & EP ‘Like, Whoa’. Tell us about the creative process behind those projects. Were there any underlying messages you tried to deliver through them.
‘Check’ was the first single I released in 2019 and it holds such a huge spot in my heart. This song was written after a very intense year of struggling with mental health in 2018 and really showcases my intentions and personality as an artist. The track is about shutting out all outside or inside voices trying to turn you down from your goals and celebrating your accomplishments. It was actually written at the same time that I wrote all of the tracks on ‘Like, Whoa’ so I was really going into this a clear mind. ‘Like, Whoa’ was released in the summer of 2019 and the EP as a whole is really about life experiences from the previous year about being underestimated, dealing with heartbreaks, celebrating your circle and proving everyone’s doubts wrong. Along with the release I threw a huge release party at Overflow Brewing Company here in Ottawa and the success of all things combined make this one of my proudest moments to date.
Working closely with Quest, you’ve done what many great Hip-Hop legends have done, in finding a producer that you work extremely well with. Describe what that relationship is like and how has he been able to push you as an artist?
First off, shout out to Dreamland Studios and the entire Dreamland collective. It really is a vision focused on the bigger picture. It is about more than the music and more about the impact and message. Quest is amazing and as soon as he and I connected in March of 2019, we hit it off. We are two like-minded people who share similar aspirations and a similar vision. We always wow one another with the ideas we come up with and to be honest, we are usually thinking the same thing! When you find energy like that, it creates such organic content that you can’t help but feed off of it and continue to put out your best work. We inspire and motivate each other to strive for greatness in all areas of our careers.
Canadian Hip-Hop has been rising faster than ever, on the other side female Hip-Hop artists have also been dominating the charts. What would you say to influence more Canadian females to pick up a pen and paper and start rhyming?
The key is to start. It’s always so intimidating trying to tackle something that you haven’t done yet or you think you may not be the best at. As humans, we often only like to do things that we are good at because of how it feeds the ego. But the thing is, if you just start, whatever that looks like to you, you never know where it will take you. Trust your process and do what feels right and comfortable. Just because you start, doesn’t mean that you have to release a full length project or even put music out instantly. But taking that initial first step will really help you find out if you love the craft that you’re doing and how badly you want it. The learning never stops no matter what your field. So be open to listening and learning from all angles. It only takes one tip or lesson for your entire world to be changed.
2020 you released your track ‘Set It Off’, where you proved your lyrics are pristine and showed teeth with a rough and rugged style. Tell us what the meaning behind that track was and if you think it made a statement about you as a rapper?
‘Set it Off’ is a track about cutting people off who you constantly bend over backwards and hand out favours to, while they don’t reciprocate the love. I find that you can see it all too much in the entertainment industry and I’m sure it happens a lot in everyone’s respected field or day to day life. We all know that one person, lol. I love the well-crafted lyrics, rhyme scheme and thought out flow in this track and both myself and Quest were extremely thrilled to release the song and music video for it. Especially as a female in the industry, sometimes people take advantage of your good nature and I wanted to release this song to showcase the empowering and fierce side of myself and that side in others that they can relate to.
Your next project ‘Alpha Barbie’ is set to release on July 24th, 2020. What does this project mean to you and what can we expect out of it?
I am so unbelievably excited for the EP, ‘Alpha Barbie’ to drop on July 24th! This is a 5-track solo project produced by Quest from Dreamland Studios and hit maker Jonny Brown. It is engineered by Geoff McNeely and it was recorded out of my home studio in Ottawa. ‘Alpha Barbie’ is a project that shows my versatility on the hip-hop/R&B spectrum. With each song, front to back, the project really takes you on a rollercoaster of vibes and displays my artistic talents on a different level. I wanted to give the listeners a deeper thought into what goes on in my mind and I find that is really showcased on ‘Alpha Barbie’. The thought and care put into ‘Alpha Barbie’ from the team working on the project is something so special and something that I am extremely proud of.
The first single from this project was just released on June 12th, why did you choose this track and how big of a taste will it give us from the EP?
The single is actually the title track off of the project titled ‘Alpha Barbie’. It is a female anthem and song of empowerment. I created this song to uplift females, people who identify as female and men who celebrate and respect women. An ‘Alpha Barbie’ is a boss, empowering, fierce and a go-getter. In society, women are often critiqued, overlooked and/or not taken seriously. People can find the success of a woman intimidating as opposed to a blessing. Women all over should be celebrate for all of the hard-work they continue to endure! This holds an extra special place in my heart because of how much I relate to this. This track was produced by Quest and we just finished filming the official music video for the track. As for how big of a taste that it’s giving, I would say that it is just one of the flavours you’ll see on the project. Think of buying a box of donuts and each one is different from the last but still hit the spot! With the entire record, you will definitely see and hear a side of me that hasn’t been exposed yet and I think that’s why I’m the most excited about. Sometimes you have to take that chance on you.
After this project is out what will you be working on next? Are there any artists you want to work with soon?
There is and will be a lot going on and I can’t wait for the plans to further develop! I already have some projects that are in the works, which is great! The next up will be a collaboration EP titled ‘Head Over Feels’ with Ottawa artist, Vante Poems. This project is produced by Jonny Brown and we are all very excited to get it out there! We haven’t yet decided an exact date, but definitely in 2020. Next are a line of features and singles with a few of these Ottawa artists, Dominique Gorley, Hevve, and Fae, as well as talks about collaborations with some others that I will keep under wraps for the time being! There has been so much time for me to work on my craft during this quarantine and I know that every release including ‘Alpha Barbie’ will truly show that.
Name your TOP 5 ‘Dead or Alive’?
This was the hardest question to answer. So many dope emcees’ so this is in no particular order but here is my Top 5.
1. The Notorious B.I.G
3. Joyner Lucas
5. J. Cole