Mischa talks Alpha Barbie EP & life as a hip-hop artist in Ottawa
The Ottawa hip-hop scene has been home to some notable names over the years. Some have made a name for themselves on the national level, while a select few have gone on to achieve international fame; a goal still rarely achieved by Canadian MCs.
Ottawa natives such as Tom Green, Belly, Charron and the late Bender all crossed the Canadian border to America with hip-hop as the means of transportation. And while representing the city on an international scale, these acts have also fueled the dreams of Ottawa’s next generation, and given them hope that a career in music as an attainable goal.
A newcomer to the Ottawa music scene that goes by the name of Mischa has steadily made her presence known in the area over the last few years. She’s one of several emerging female artists that have taken the National Capital Region by storm.
After reviewing her Alpha Barbie EP, the main thing that I noticed was the consistent sound and Mischa’s unique ability to vividly illustrate her lyrics even without a music video. And when she does release official visuals the vibrant themes are always evident with her pink laden color pallet.
Additionally, it seems the word is getting out on Mischa as all her local shows pre-pandemic were frequently sold-out without the need of a big opening name. The ability to draw fans to live performances is an issue even some bigger artists have in this day and age, while Mischa has earned the support of the community in Ottawa and is using the power of good promotion to bring in new loyal fans.
A number of the songs, photos and the music videos for the EP Alpha Barbie were produced by Quest who is also from the Ottawa area.
We asked Quest about his time collaborating with Mischa on the new project:
“Ever since Mischa and I started working together, I knew right away this was going to be a wonderful creative bond. I have to admit, there is not one song that represents who Mischa is and her core values, as powerful as the single ‘Alpha Barbie’ is. It has it all, the energy, the flow, delivery and the confidence. I am so proud of this gem and I know it will reach the way it is intended to.”
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Mischa (via a Zoom call in order to maintain social distancing protocols) to discuss her new project, the Ottawa hip-hop scene, her radio show, and more.
You can check out the full Q&A interview below as well as Mischa’s music video for the title track off her EP Alpha Barbie.
HipHopCanada: Hi Mischa, thanks for chatting with me today! how’s it going? congrats on the new release of your EP Alpha Barbie!
Mischa: Thanks so much I really appreciate it. It’s been a busy day today!
HipHopCanada: Was this new project how you kept busy during the COVID-19 lockdown?
M: This project was actually written before the lockdown, most of it was actually recorded during the lockdown in my home studio but it worked out well because it gave me more time to perfect it. This project was originally intended to debut at the Ottawa RBC Bluesfest this year but it gave me the opportunity to push the release date back a bit to make sure everything was perfect.
HipHopCanada: I guess you must have been pretty disappointed that Bluesfest was cancelled?
M: Yes, it was very, but they have rescheduled it for next year in 2021 so that will also give me the opportunity to have more music and more content by next year. I was supposed to perform the same day as Rage Against the Machine, so hopefully they will be back at the festival as well next year!
HipHopCanada: What is the idea behind the name and the title Alpha Barbie?
M: The Alpha Barbie idea came together from being a female in the music business and knowing that it’s a male dominated industry so I feel that I need to work twice as hard to make my name. The main premise behind the title is that I am fierce, considered a go-getter and a creative that knows exactly what I want. Every female is an Alpha Barbie in their own way and everyone knows an Alpha Barbie so I really wanted to hit home that as a female I know I am a minority in the music business but I will still be making my mark.
HipHopCanada: Why did you decide to complete a five song EP rather than a full album at this time?
M: I wanted to showcase the additional growth and progression from my last EP Like, Whoa and use this EP as stepping stone up to a full album which is currently in the works. I wanted to use the new EP to showcase my versatility and range as an artist but also use it as an introduction to myself as an artist and also as a tool to bridge that gap from the small projects to the bigger full length album that I’m working on.
HipHopCanada: Do you feel the need to use your platform to help other women in the music business get respect for their musical talent rather than being celebrated for their looks and being treated as “sex objects”? Is this personally important to you?
M: Absolutely, it is something that I strongly stand behind as I think female empowerment is key in today’s day and age. I don’t believe there can only be one queen in music, I think women should lift up each other rather than putting each other down. We are starting to see this more and more behind the scenes and in public as time progresses. I don’t think we should be intimidated by someone else’s success, as women I think we need to support and celebrate each other’s success.
HipHopCanada: I really enjoyed the consistency of the sound of the new EP, was this the reason why you only used production from two producers being Quest and Jonny Brown?
M: Thanks a lot. I am really happy you enjoyed it and that seems to be the general consensus I have heard so far. I really get great vibes working with these two producers and I feel that we have great chemistry as they made a huge impact on this project and helped it become what it is today. I think that it helps the project stand out when you take the time to get to know your producers and engineers on a personal level as it will show through your work by adding that personal touch to the finished product. Shout out to both of them as without them this project just wouldn’t have been what it is.
HipHopCanada: One of my favorite songs off Alpha Barbie was “Tic-Tac.” I found it to have kind of a 90’s, easy listening vibe to it. Do you prefer this style of beat as opposed to a boom bap or, lets say, trap beats?
M: I definitely love the vibe that “Tic-Tac” has and it is something different compared to beats that I have used in the past. I don’t consider myself a ‘trap artist’ and I’m not a huge fan of ‘trap beats’ but I always try to make a beat my own and put my own spin on it. I am really happy that you got the 90’s vibe from it because that is what we were going for as we wanted to showcase the 1990’s flavor. It was produced by Jonny Brown, and as soon as I heard it I knew the direction I wanted to go with it!
HipHopCanada: Do you consider yourself a rap artist or more of a hybrid R&B/hip-hop artist like Drake that tends to incorporate both styles into their music?
M: I consider myself an emcee, but I always try to put in any style that the beat calls for. So there are songs where I might do more of ‘sing-rap’ but I really just vibe with whatever beat I’m rocking to at the time. I am a songwriter, so I really try to incorporate as many styles of vocals as I can when creating a new song.
HipHopCanada: Would you say that you try to make music to be played in a club or music that can be played during any activity during the average day?
M: I make music that people can relate to. If it gets played in a club then so be it but at the end of the day, I want people to listen to my music anytime. I really just want people to relate to my music and get them through the day, and if I do this then I know I’ve done my job. I found that this new EP touches on a variety of topics in the lyrics so I am hoping this new project will reach a lot of different people in different situations.
HipHopCanada: Have you felt the need to politicise your music at all like so many artists have done in the last few months during the civil rights protests that have been going on?
M: I like to use my platform to spread all kinds of awareness. Although I respect all artist’s music that are sending political messages, but I personally have never been one to really be too political. But I still try to use my music to spread awareness about certain issues such women’s rights but when I am creating music I always try to stay with in my comfort zone as I find this works the best for me.
HipHopCanada: How long have you lived in Ottawa? Do you think that Ottawa is a positive environment for musicians?
M: I have lived here for six years and I only started music about three years ago. I found the growth here to be really amazing during this time. I know I have heard a lot of the bigger artists have moved away from the city but I think any musician starting out here can be successful as it’s a tight knit community, which helps a lot. I am really encouraged with the growth that has been going on here in recent years and I can’t wait to see the city continue to evolve!
HipHopCanada: I saw some footage from one of your shows. It appeared like you had a good turnout. Have you had a lot of success headlining your own shows?
M: I have and it connects back to Ottawa being very community based. I have also done a lot of work behind the scenes with marketing, promotion and other things. I can’t wait until the restrictions let up a bit more so we can start playing shows again so I can get back to that ASAP!
HipHopCanada: You co-host a radio program on CHUO 89.1FM in Ottawa on a show called Bring Ya Eh Game. Is being a radio personality something that you plan on continuing on into the future?
M: The experience that I have had with this has been very positive. I love being able to give a platform to other aspiring artists in the region so it is something that I would like to continue doing and help spread the word! Shout out to Dynamic! It’s great to be considered a community figure from the radio show in the Ottawa area, and to help other artists showcase their work through the program is also something I enjoy.
HipHopCanada: What is next for Mischa? where will you go next with your music?
M: I am currently in the process of working on a new album that will be out in 2021 but I am putting a lot of extra effort into it before I decide the exact release date. I also have some new collaboration singles and EP’s on the way before 2020 is done so stay tuned for those and I don’t want to give any names away but I can say you are in for a treat. The one name I will say is that I do have a new collaboration EP coming up with Vante Poems which will be titled Head Over Feels which will hopefully be out by the end of 2020. I might also do a few live stream performances as well as it’s the kind of world we are living in today… so I am excited for all of this!
HipHopCanada: It was great chatting with you today, we look forward to hearing more music in the future. Would you like to shout anyone out?
M: First off, thank you so much to HipHopCanada and to you Kyle. Thanks so much for sitting down with me and letting me tell my story a little bit more. Also, shout out to Quest and Jonny Brown, the executive producers, for helping me put together the new EP and shout out to the whole Dreamland collective! Special shout out to all the artists and creatives out there doing their thing and sharing their craft with the world. Thank you so much!
Written by Kyle McNeil for HipHopCanada
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