When you listen to Haviah Mighty’s discography, it becomes precisely clear why her career has been fastened with industry respect and acclamation from Hip-Hop fans. 2019 welcomed Haviah’s break-out success album 13th Floor, a prodigiously crafted body of work, amassing varied attention and accolades. The album saw Haviah become the first Hip-Hop artist and Black woman, to be successful in winning the Polaris Music Prize for ‘Best Canadian Album of the Year’. However, Haviah has journeyed through her artistry for many years, pre-dating her 2019 achievements. Coalescing with her siblings, Haviah and her older sisters sang as a group and ventured through the early stages of their music careers together, known as the ‘Mighty Sisters’.
As Haviah developed her distinctive sound, her independent releases echoed socio-political conversations and anecdotal reflections. Her unique intonations and ability to cross-pollinate genres has cemented Haviah’s reputation as being one to deliver dynamic and unyielding music.
We had the opportunity to ask Haviah some questions about her 2021 endeavours and delve into some of her reflections on her own music, her new mixtape Stock Exchange, and the industry more broadly.
Hey Haviah, congratulations on your mixtape!
On ‘Coulda Been You’, the atmospheric beat commingling with your incisive lyricism is super captivating and prompts me to ask whether we can expect similar sounds and/or levels of introspection within your mixtape Stock Exchange?
Yes… but at the same time, each song is very different and stands alone, so those sounds and that introspection on the other songs is unique within itself. There are a variety of sounds on this project.
To me, the reflections in ‘Coulda Been You’, emanate a heightened perceptivity to the interactions you’ve been having throughout your career. Your lyrics even mention that you make yourself “way too accessible” and so, I was wondering how you have coped with having to establish boundaries as an artist?
I learned, and am learning, from my experiences. Don’t let people in too quickly, let them in cautiously and in doing that, maybe you can weed out ulterior motives. We all want to assume the best-case scenario for things, but when it comes to building relationships, I don’t think it’s safe to assume anything. Walking around with blinders is the easiest way to hit a wall.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that the title Stock Exchange represents how the constant rising and falling of an entities value, based on the public’s perception of it, links to how we, as a society, perceive each other and ourselves. In saying that, do you feel that the way people define success in music has been interrupted? If so, how?
In a way yes and in a way no. When I was coming up, it felt like record labels and record deals were much more essential to an artist’s career; independence wasn’t the biggest conversation at the time. And back then, it felt like they (the labels) were the sole gatekeepers to who was hot because they had access to the blueprint – the ability to create an experience for the fans through radio, CD, live concert, interviews etc. There’s no filter between the label and the audience now, or no label even; and in this space, we have social media and its direct access to mass community through the internet; access to a distributor to get your music on streaming platforms and overall, more portals to build relationships between artist and fan. So yeah, I think the perception of music and its success has been interrupted, but it’s been interrupted by us, the listeners. We have more say. We can voice concerns on Twitter, and it might go viral. We can DM the artists; we can watch them discuss an idea live where many things of that nature had to be curated beforehand. Things feel more direct, with less middlemen, and therefore more authentic and raw.
Winning the Polaris Prize in 2019, how have you navigated the momentum you’ve gained within the music industry?
I just powered through a world of new opportunities until the pandemic hit. I don’t know which ones, but I’m sure some opportunities of late 2019 were as a result of the Polaris win.
You’ve worked with a lot of artists throughout your catalogue of music; however, I’ve noticed at times you work alongside your sister. What was it like growing up together and both finding music as your passions?
Yeah, Omega Mighty. e have so much history, you know? Musical history. Sang together as kids with my other sisters. She was pushing herself as an artist and my first performance opportunities as a teen were doing a song of mine during her sets. I was a stiffer performer back then. I stepped the energy up now haha. But Omega will always be one of my earliest performance inspirations because of how we came up, and how much she owned the stage at a really young age. Now she’s coming back around to music, and releasing a project called Me & Youforia later this month. I’m excited for that, and I have one of my productions on there!
Now that Stock Exchange is out in the world, what can we expect next from Haviah Mighty?
Expect the unexpected, honestly. Late 2021 we had to pivot some things over a health scare, so we are rescheduling stuff and plotting for 2022 as we speak. We have some plans for live performance, travel, giveaways, and new music plus other initiatives… stay engaged with me on socials, especially IG, for what’s going on.
Follow Haviah Mighty here for more and stream Stock Exchange below.