Interview with Miesha and the Spanks
Calgary heavy rockers Miesha & The Spanks are back with their latest release entitled Singles EP. #CMIAE artist Miesha Louie spoke with CMI via email about the record’s origins, adapting from an ever touring live band to releasing music under lockdown, balancing creativity and new motherhood, and exploring what it means to be a “Mixed Blood Girl”.
Q: How did the Singles EP come about?
A: The plan when we started (pre-pandemic) was to have 4-5 standalone singles, more like a compilation record than an album. But then we were interrupted, and suddenly there was this life-changing experience influencing the writing. When the EP should have been finished, more good songs kept popping out of us that fit together and we didn’t want to cut. So, we let more songs sneak on than maybe we would have otherwise, without the pandemic shifting things around.
We released Singles EP with a series of pre-released singles starting back in July. When we started, we really weren’t sure what was going to happen with touring and festivals or anything. We figured our best move was just to start moving music and getting it out there. When “Unstoppable” came out, we hadn’t even finished recording the EP. The campaign became about radio pitching and music videos instead of tour dates, and even now I don’t think we’ll be on tour for real until next year. It’s been a different release cycle for us!
Q: What makes you feel “Unstoppable”?
A: I always feel unstoppable when I’m playing a really kick–butt super tour–tight set. About halfway through a tour, we like to challenge ourselves and play a game where we don’t stop between songs, and we just play the whole set in one go. When we pull that off, we are completely unstoppable.
Q: What is something that you’ve learned to do in the pandemic when you “Wanna Feel Good”?
A: Throughout lockdown, I’ve really been enjoying walks with my dog down to the river. I live close to Bowmont Park (in Calgary), and down the rocky beach there’s this spot where the Bow River splits, and I don’t know what it is but there are some special vibes there. A lot of my voice memo song ideas come when we’re out there.
Q: Is there a particular track you’re most proud of on this EP?
A: “Mixed Blood Girls” took a lot out of me and I’m happy with the music and the lyrics and the production. It’s also connected me with more of my community and that means so much to me and Steve Lamacq played it on BBC6! I had a clean version made, but because there was profanity, I didn’t really expect it to get much airtime. I was wrong! I’m proud that something I made is meaningful to other people while still getting some small critical acclaim.
I’ve always written personal music and shared mostly from real-life experience, except for this huge part of who I am and where I come from. I’ve always identified as Indigenous, but I’ve never shared what that meant to me, or what my life was like being mixed, or what my relationship was with my culture, community, and family. I guess it was always in the back of my head that I would eventually get there, but when I heard a poem called “Mixedblood Girls” by Rain Prud’Homme, it really inspired me to get writing. Because her poem hit me so hard, it finally resonated with me that maybe my story would connect with someone else as well.
Q: What does it mean to be a “Mixed Blood Girl?”
A: Loaded question! Being a mixed-blood girl really challenges my identity daily. Sometimes it feels like I must prove myself, to myself. I’ve had the opportunity to talk about this a fair amount with other mixed-blood girls since releasing this song, and one thing we all have in common is that because we don’t look 100% NDN, we have the privilege of hearing just how racist Canadians be. The stuff that comes out of peoples’ mouths when they don’t think they’re in the presence of an Indigenous person can be disgusting. There’s still a long way to go.
Q: “I Want Fire” | What is something that starts a fire inside of you?
A: I get lit up in a positive way making plans, like booking shows and recording music and getting ready to get out there. On the negative side, feeling stuck and/or powerless – which has been a common feeling this last year and a half – makes me want to explode.
Q: “I Used to Care, (I Don’t Care)” | What are three things you don’t care about anymore and what are three things you really do care about now?
A: I used to care about being the fastest to shotgun a beer, making sure I made it out to every single local show, and I guess I probably cared too much about what other people thought. Now, I care more about where I come from and connecting my sons to that culture, and I care about making sure what I’m saying means something and isn’t just wasting space. I am positive this is some new parent stuff, but I care a lot more about what I leave behind than I ever have before.
Q: What has been your biggest “S.O.S” moment lately?
A: I’m realizing how much work it is to create music, run my music as a business, and be a stay-at-home mom to 1 and a half-year-old twins. It’s overwhelming. My husband works 12–14-hour days, and my mom pops over to help a few days a week for a few hours at a time, but there is always SO much to do. Switching my brain between interacting with babies and then immediately to adults or even just paperwork is dizzying. Big props to all the moms who’ve been doing this for years.
Q: “We Were Never Meant to Be Alone for This Long Together” If you had to pick one band/musician to be trapped alone with who would you pick?
A: If me and Sean were going to be trapped with another band, I think we would want it to be our girls in Mobina Galore. Not only are they great company and a lot of fun, but they are really good cooks.