Song-by-Song: ‘Cold Blood EP’ by MIYA MIYA
A quartet who met at university, wrote songs for other artists and then formed a band discuss their debut EP
Having met at university in Guildford, Ginnie (vocals), Jordan (vocals/keys), Gio (guitar) and James (drums) formed a songwriting team with the intention of writing and producing for other artists. Their most notable success to date is All Night Long by Jonas Blue & Retrovision; a multi-layered song which reached No 1 on the Billboard Dance Chart and is packed with the quartet’s emotionally-charged input.
An obvious next step was to bring together their finely honed skills and step out as a band. So that’s what they did, forming MIYA MIYA and releasing their debut EP, Cold Blood.
Influenced by the likes of Imagine Dragons and The Chainsmokers, this promising debut explodes with fresh production and classic songwriting.
It’s obvious they have some talent up their collective sleeves, so it’s over to the band to walk us through how it’s done…
Underwater was the first time we got all our instruments into the studio together and started jamming. It was late, after a long day in the studio, and we were all pretty tired and relaxed. We were chatting together about being in a band and how writing songs can be a way to take yourself to place you can never normally go. This felt like a good song concept, and a bit of a ‘Peter Pan/Neverland’ moment for us.
This feeling really carried over into the lyrics and theme of the song, and a good example would be the main hook of the song, “I feel like I can breathe underwater”. Although this is impossible, as a band we believe that if you set your sights towards achieving something, even if you only get close, it can be a pretty amazing thing.
We were so excited by the song that James tracked in the drums with the electric kit that same night. We stayed up producing and recording the vocals and guitars until early the next day.
Hometown was the first song we wrote together outside of our own studio environment. We had the bare bones of the song written when our friend called us up and invited us down to his place, Numen Studios, for a late-night jam. When we arrived we were so taken aback by all the analogue synthesisers and vintage outboard gear that it actually took us a while to sit down and start concentrating!
Hometown was fresh in our minds, so we decided to start laying down the production, little did we know that would mean spending hours designing the main chorus synth (which ended up getting changed months later anyway). Gio left his guitar at home, so we ended up using a £50 guitar in the corner of the studio that we chucked through a Kemper emulating a Dumble. We laugh about it now because even though we have a couple of nice guitar amps back at our studio, it’s still one of our favourite guitar tones we’ve had to date.
We put the track to bed for a few months, before we went into the studio with production guru Edd Holloway, who had some amazing ideas and instantly gave the track a fresh feel. He really knew how to make the chorus instrumentation smack you in the face. We learnt a huge amount from that session alone.
At the time, a friend of ours was going through a tough time and this was the inspiration for the theme of the song and the main hook, “You’re lost in your hometown”. We’ve all been at that time in our lives when – even though you are somewhere familiar – you still feel lost and unsure about what to do. We wanted Hometown to reflect this feeling.
Cold Blood actually started with an ARP synth that we were trying in another song. We had two rooms set up as studios that day and we were in the middle of working on different elements of the same song. Gini and Jordan were trying to create an ARP melody for the chorus of another track. Whilst flicking through presets trying to find the ARP sound, Logic went a bit haywire and transposed it to a completely different key. James and Gio dropped what they were doing and came rushing in from the other room.
It was one of those moments where the ideas just kept coming and the track seemed to write itself. Compared to our other songs, in terms of production, it has very few elements, but we really wanted to keep the focus on the lyrics and melody.
Ironically, the hook of the song was, “Is it youngblood” as that evening we were supposed to be heading to a Yungblud concert in London but we ended missing our train because we were so deep into writing the song. The rest of the lyrics were inspired by a tricky relationship when you don’t know whether it’s meant to be, or whether you are trying to force something that’s never going to work.
ON MY MIND
This song came from something we do that we like to call ‘mp3 surfing’. It’s where we type .mp3 into the search bar on our Macs and just listen to our old demos that are hidden deep in a random folder. Although the demo was terrible, when it hit the chorus, we knew it had something special.
We found the Logic project, stripped out all of the old instruments and started from scratch. Gini and Jordan tracked the vocals and piano, before Gio recorded the guitars. At the time Gio was really into a track called Young by The Chainsmokers, which really inspired the vibe of the part. James then programmed the drums in. We really wanted a sound that had that classic 80s feel, so we chose samples that felt big and hard-hitting.
This one actually took us a while a get the production to a place we were happy with, and it still felt like it was missing that special something, that modern touch. Our manager suggested getting TCTS [DJ and record producer Sam O’Neill] to do some additional production, as he said that he had a magic way with 80s synths. He sent us over some ideas and it felt like the whole song instantly glued together.
Lyrically this song is about that special someone that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get them off your head. It’s a straight-up love story, it can feel as though you’re counting down to see that person, which is reflected in the lyrics in the pre-chorus, “No 1 but us, 2 minds collide” etc.
We just got hold of a new Kontakt pack and stumbled upon the 80s drum kit. We loved how live and nostalgic they sounded and wanted to keep the production on that same 80s vibe. At the time we were really into the Imagine Dragons album Evolve which really inspired the atmosphere and energy of the track. We wanted the song to sound like the feeling of a call to battle and to fight for what you believe in.
Lyrically it’s about that feeling of being a kid and when you’re full of hope, you want to be an astronaut or a famous actor. As you grow up people try to tell you to be realistic, but we’ve always pushed against this and feel that you can do anything you put your mind to. This inspired many of the lyrics throughout the song especially, “Run like wolves” and “Break the rules”. We want people who listen to our music feel like they can do anything they believe in.