One look at Pia Mia, and you might think she stepped out of a fairytale. She didn’t, but her path to stardom reads like one.
Discovered on a visit to L.A. from her tropical island home of Guam when she was 17, she was barely off the plane before she was signed. While having a cup of coffee at Urth Cafe on Melrose Avenue, a woman asked if she was a singer. The woman turned out to be married to one of Babyface’s producers.
“I was starting to get really comfortable in the studio during that time, and finding my footing. As a young woman, I was starting to establish how I wanted to sound and what I wanted to say. It was an important part of my life and my career as a person,” she recalls about that first, crazy year in the industry.
“That was a point in my life when I was writing from my journal and using my life as inspiration for the music.”
Her big break came in 2013 when she and producer Nic Nac completed a cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” So it seemed like serendipity when she was invited to a dinner party at the Kardashians’ house, and who should be there but the man himself.
“I didn’t know Drake was going to be there. And I was called out on the spot to sing. So, that was a little bit nerve-wracking,” she says of the impromptu performance that went viral, changing the trajectory of her career. “I wanted him to like it and clearly I was inspired by him. It was good, and I think everyone liked it.”
Within months of the Kardashian dinner, Pia was teaming with Chance the Rapper on “Fight For You” for the sci-fi film, Divergent. Also in 2014, “Hold On, We’re Going Home” turned up on her debut EP The Gift, including two singles: “Red Love”, a ballad about heartbreak, and the pop-influenced “Mr. President.”
A year later, “Do It Again,” featuring Chris Brown and Tyga, was her first song to make the charts, landing at 71 on the Billboard 100.
“I had this idea and I wanted to put my spin on it. And then we played it for Chris and Tyga and they loved it and wanted to get on it,” she recalls about the hit song that was featured on Jimmy Fallon’s TikTok challenge last May with J.Lo.
“It represents who I am, from the video, from the song itself. It was the perfect representation of me as an artist. I’m so grateful to Nic Nac and Marc [Bassy] and Chris and Tyga and everyone that was a part of it.”
While she’s already collaborated with a number of pop music giants, her dream is to work with Taylor Swift and Cardi B. She also has more plans for the big screen. In 2019 she played Tristan in the movie After, based on the bestselling series of teen novels, and created the theme song as well.
While the camera surely loves her, movies remain a passion second to music. With the world opening up again, she can’t wait to get on the road, and has a new song, “Miss Me,” dropping this summer.
Eight years feels like a lifetime since the day she showed up in L.A., a teenager with an angelic face and staggering vocal resonance—who now has over six million Instagram followers.
“The best thing I ever did when I came to the industry was to be straight-up honest with my intentions, and what I’m doing and what I want,” she says of lessons learned in the music business.
“It’s hard to find genuine people in this industry you can go work with. So, keep your circle small, that’s a crucial thing to do in Hollywood.”