Songwriting success is a close companion of Albanian pop singer Mimoza, whose creative imprint can be traced across the world. With a catalogue that includes songs on the soundtracks of German movies 3 Türken & 1 Baby and Fack ju Göhte 2 and a Japanese number 1, to say she was destined for great things would have a well-reasoned assumption.
While it is easy to assume that momentum had been lost and the initial spark that encompassed previous singles “Big Girls Cry” and “Love For Days” had fizzled away, it has in fact been quietly bubbling under the surface with Mimoza taking the time to lay the foundations for what it is certain to be an epic journey ahead.
Unchaining herself from the industry standards surrounding release schedules and timelines, the self-proclaimed perfectionist has instead chosen to prioritise authenticity over speed. Striving for the inner peace that accompanies knowing that she has given her all to her work, the beauty in Mimoza’s craft is found in the minute details and her commitment to the seamless execution of her vision.
The visuals for her comeback single “Young Queen” are a primary example of exactly that and formed the basis of our discussion on where she’s been and more importantly her plans moving forward.
We should probably start with the most obvious question – where have you been? You made this huge splash with “Love For Days” and then no solo music until “Young Queen”.
I focused on building my team. It was super important for me to release music that says something. I don’t want to make music just to make noise. I’m not trying to diss other artists who release a single every second month, that’s fair I respect that. But for me and what I saw with “Kings and Queens”…
I co-wrote “Kings and Queens” by Ava Max which was really awesome and did so well. That song showed me why it’s so important to focus on a record and why it’s worth squeezing out the juice of a record. I feel like we live at such a fast pace and people don’t appreciate a work of art. I just really wanted to focus on singing real songs that matter to me. Another priority was building my team here in the US and in Europe. So, it’s been a mix of that and writing for other artists. That’s the reason it took so long. I am such a perfectionist. I am not going to put something out that I don’t think is ready.
As a matter of fact, I started shooting the video for “Young Queen” in 2019 but the scenes didn’t feel right. I can live with people not liking my art because not everybody has to like it. But if I know that I’ve given it my all and I can look back and my work and say there’s nothing I could have done better because I genuinely love what I did, then I can have peace in my heart.
For you what have been the biggest aspects of growth since “Love For Days”?
I am learning every day and growing as a businesswoman, songwriter, and artist. I am seeing how my vision keeps coming to life. That is something I am so grateful for. I am grateful that I can release a track that isn’t your typical dance song that is a part of every Spotify list. I’m always going to bet on quality music because that’s what I like to focus on. I feel good when I focus on something that truly matters to me and that truly is the honesty and authenticity in my records. I feel like I am growing into my authentic self and it’s something that really fulfills me.
Outside of your powerhouse vocals, a distinct thing about you is that none of your tracks sound the same. I attribute that to you wanting to create your own lane – something which you’ve mentioned before. What does being in your own lane actually look like in practice?
Being in my own lane is something that I think about all the time. I am such a prideful person. Even growing up I never did things that other people did just to be cool. Being in my lane, my goal moving forward is for people to one day play a song and say within 5 seconds “That’s a Mimoza song”. I feel like real artists have that lane. I think a lane is a mixture of vocals, writing, what you sing about, and how you present yourself visually. It’s all one. If you can put a stamp on that, that is what a lane is.
I love that! I did want to get into something you mentioned previously around writing “Kings and Queens”. You’ve had a lot of success writing for other people and contributing to the success of others. Does that create any additional pressure when it comes to translating that into your own career?
I wouldn’t say that they create pressure [because] whether or not I would have had success with “Kings and Queens”, there’s a certain standard that I hold for myself. I reshot a video before I knew what “King and Queens” would do, so I always have my own standards and they are never going to change. I am always going to expect a lot for myself. I think if anything it motivates me and it helps people in the industry to respect me more. I’ve always believed in myself and seen the vision if anything it just helps people to see my vision more.
Staying on the topic of songwriting, what would you say are the 3 key ingredients for a hit song?
A melody that moves you, a concept that is original and honesty.
So with that being said, What would your advice be for aspiring songwriters who want to improve their skills?
Dig deep within and don’t let anybody tell you what is cool. Whatever you say is cool and true to you, that’s what’s cool. Don’t let anybody tell you that something is not going to work. That just means it won’t work with them and you need to find someone that’s going to share that vision. If you really believe in a concept and you’re working with a producer that’s not feeling it, go to another producer. There are so many opportunities and I just think that anything can work. It’s about the right people coming together and you honouring your truth.
Where do you find the confidence to do that? I can imagine that being quite scary for a new writer.
It came with time. Where it really started to change for me was in 2015. I would write songs and concepts and share my ideas and the people I was working with wouldn’t listen. I completely get how for a new songwriter that can be intimidating and it’s not fun. It can only be fun when you allow yourself to be whoever it is you want to be. Even if you want to write a song about aliens and everybody looks at you like you’re crazy. If that is your truth, you’re going to figure out a way to do that. When I started doing that, it improved my songwriting and made it more fun for me. I need it to be fun and I need to believe in what I am saying. So, everything goes back to being authentic and honest.
You said your approach changed in 2015, what was the thing that sparked that change?
I think what happened was that there was no spark, and I was frustrated. I felt like I had all of these ideas and all that I kept hearing from industry people was “oh that’s not going to work”. What a lot of people in the industry don’t get is that if somebody has already released a dance song called “Move Your Body”, you can’t come to me and ask me to write a song called “Move Your Body” because you’re already too late. It doesn’t work like that. I don’t believe in writing songs that are already out there or similar things. When I don’t believe in something nobody can convince me. So, I’d say the thing that happened was that I didn’t really feel the spark anymore. The best thing about feeling uninspired is that it can only get better. I believe that when you work hard on something and you have a good heart and good intentions life rewards hard work and courage one way or another.
Have you ever had writer’s block and if you have, what are some of your tips for dealing with it?
All the time! I feel like I struggle so much with my personal songs because I am so hard on myself and that’s why sometimes it takes re-writing a song 9 times [and] going back and forth. In the studio, I give myself 2 hours and if nothing great comes in 2 hours, I’ll go and do something I like. I’ll buy a top, get some food, order a dress, watch a movie. I give myself 2 hours because I do better like that. I used to lock myself in the studio for hours but it’s about working smart. If nothing great comes within the first 2 hours, it’s just not meant to be and that’s fine. It’s not a bad life, it’s just a bad day.
Something else, that shines through in your work is your connection to your culture. As someone who has moved around quite a lot, how do you ensure you stay connected to your roots?
Even though I grew up in Sweden, Germany, and the US what always stays the same is my parents. At home, I will always speak Albanian. They don’t care if I’m selling 5 million records or 5 I’m their daughter. That’s how I will always be humbled and I will always stay connected to my culture, which is important to me. I feel like we don’t shed enough light on the immigrants or the kids of immigrants. We see how other people succeed and we sometimes believe that it can’t happen to us because nobody that we know from our backgrounds has done it as immigrants. You feel like it’s not reachable. So that’s why it was so important for me to write a second verse that was so humble. I want people that come from no money to know that money doesn’t make you. Having a good heart, having a dream, and being determined that’s what makes you cool. Money comes and goes and if you come from a poor country and you make it big in a different country, that’s incredible and you can do it! That’s why I am showing my story. I want people when they listen to “Young Queen” to apply it to their story. If I can give somebody a little bit more pride, I want that because that’s how I feel.
Speaking of your roots, You’ve worked with Ava Max and have previously mentioned being inspired by Dua lipa, any chance of a female all-star empowerment anthem from the Albanian women in pop?
You know what? I would freaking love that! I would be honoured to be a part of that. I have so much respect for Rita Ora because she was first worldwide major singer who made it from Kosovo. I was so proud! We are such a small country so anybody making it big from our country is the biggest deal because she’s representing us and now Dua Lipa is killing it and Bebe Rexha also and Ava Max. If there is some sort of a song where they all they get together I pray that I am a part of that.
Finally, Mimoza, What’s next for you?
Continuing to release my songs that are a part of my diary. I am excited for that! I’m excited for this pandemic to be over and to start performing my music. Right now, I’m focused on singles. Artists really get my attention after I’ve heard 3 or 4 singles that really blow me away, that’s when I feel like I want to listen to an EP. I don’t really listen to somebody’s EP if I don’t know a single or a song they’ve done. So, because of that I want to release at least two more singles and have them do really before releasing a body of work.