Mija (real name Amber Giles) continues to bring her fans deep originality through heartfelt yet twisted, whimsical spoken-word poetry. It’s music that imparts a lasting impression on New York City during her first-ever live tour, dubbed Band Practice, which made stops at two of the Big Apple’s more intimate venues: Baby’s All Right and Mercury Lounge. Mija’s performance—which fused live instrumentation, theatrical symbolism, and visual storytelling—captured a grungey punk rock feel that left the crowd wide-eyed and speechless.
On her Band Practice tour, Mija has created a project that has inspired a captivating imprint distinct from her hypnotizing DJ sets. She becomes a one-of-a-kind poet, made possible through an outburst full of emotive gestures, as well as a singer, whose voice is genuinely soothing and full of grace. She steps into full self-discovery mode, pushing her creative side to maximum potential. But, rest assured, Mija is not searching for anything. She’s merely communicating what she’s already found—her sound. In so doing, the Band Practice tour itself uncovers a whole new direction for Mija’s career.
Coming off the release of her 7-track How To Measure The Distance Between Lovers EP just last year, along with her Just Enough mini-EP more recently, Mija is expanding her creativity exponentially with her minimalist soundscapes, her soothing vocals, and hipster camera obscura aesthetic.
There’s a first for everything. As her fanbase made their way into each of Mija’s respective shows, there was an overall feeling of not knowing what to expect mixed with that knowing comes a new experience. It’s a moment to resonate and become one with the music, a moment to breathe and just be, no expectations, only a sense of mystery unraveling itself in real time.
Stepping onto the dance floor, MIJA’s voice lights up the faces of the crowd as she sings to her popular single, “Dead Flowers and Cigarettes.” There are two additional band members on stage: a young guitarist on the side, and Ryan Forever, in the back twisting synths and knobs like a template for performance. In what seemed like a new, live creative undertaking for him as well, Ryan Forever made a lasting impression triggering dramatized sonic recordings.
Outside of instruments, the stage was filled with symbolism through props. For one, a lit vintage lamp marked the stage, which was a metaphorical resemblance of light and dark as it was being turned off/on throughout the performance, a reflection of something being experienced. A single stool was representative of highs through lows, a means to create a balance and communicate with the audience through differentiating feels of the performance. Whether Giles was stepping up or down from the carpet, swaying back and forth, she sung her heart out with full content.
The visuals were extremely dynamic, with a psychedelic tint. The background wall consisted of a plethora of light bulbs, sporadic blue hues vibrantly trickling through the air across a humbling sign reading “Band Practice.” The lighting across the stage was clear, white, and ever-present. Motioning a full range of light, the stage glow was an effective spotlight at certain segments, then at other times, the whole room was pitch black, deepening the mysterious vibe as sounds made other transfers. Everything came together as a story was being told, as particular experimental beats were felt throughout the underground venue, and as communication between the band members grew fluidly and joyously during improvisation.
In between songs, ambient tones created a fluid vibe as tempos became slowed and time-stretched, known as ‘The Space In Between pt. 1″ made from her song, “Notice Me,” which was also performed. Mija also took over percussion as she hit the snare with a drum stick creating a high pitched frequency, dimensional groove to add to the dance. When not solely singing, she melodically performed on her piano, and at times, simultaneously sung through her mic. It’s as if the crowd was vicariously living through her performance.
One vertebra, two vertebrae.. breathe in through your nose, out with your mouth,” whispered Amber, speaking in yogic tongues.
More of her songs performed consisted of “5AM,” “Stay A Little Longer,” unreleased gems which spoke about the lost human connection online, ” I Hope To Cure Myself Of You,” a cover of 4 None Blondes’ “What’s Up,” and more.
Electric guitar strums, led by Jeremy, expressed dark, sinister tones, which fused nicely with lively, rhythmic grooves and fed the rest of the band, the audience, and everything in between. All three members communicated and reassured one another throughout the shows, and the crowd was clearly feeding off this collaborative energy, with nothing but laughs and smiles across the room. Both nights were lucid, chocked full of good conversations and moments of silent contemplation, which speaks volumes to the power of music.
At a time when the music industry has become oversaturated with repetitiveness, the same old drop, mundane behavior, and a competitive outlook, Amber Giles has escaped all of that in order in search of something greater. What she’s stumbled across is an intentional emotional rollercoaster that is providing her with a means to express herself in a collaborative atmosphere.
Be sure to experience the new chapter of Mija’s career with remaining Band Practice tour stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Ticket information is available on her website.
Featured photos: T-Rex Photo.