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Resilience and hard work: Haviah Mighty - CFMU Artist Sketch (Polaris Prize Edition)

Blog/FavouritesSeptember 16th 2019
Olivia Fava

One of the biggest events in Canadian music, the Polaris Music Prize Gala, returns tonight to announce its 2019 winner. Every year in the summer, a shortlist of talented Polaris Music Prize winners is announced, representing the most exciting new releases in Canadian music for that year. This year's shortlist (with listening links!) can be found here.

This instalment of Artist Sketch is a special one because it features a member of this Canadian all-star lineup, Brampton-born Haviah Mighty, whose powerful, honest, and beautiful record 13th Floor is up for nomination. All at once down-to-earth and eloquent, she is an artist I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to speak with. I felt genuine strength and creative energy from her, and I'm positive there are amazing things waiting for her up ahead.

The full audio of the interview can be heard below, and I’ve quoted some of the major highlights as well (It was by no means easy to choose! She had so many interesting and enlightening things to say). I hope you enjoy!

UPDATE 09.17.19 - I seem to have called the "amazing things" part, as Haviah Mighty has won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize! Let this stand as an opportunity to get to know the winner of one of Canada's most prestigious music awards.

LISTEN: An Interview with Haviah Mighty, Polaris Music Prize-Shortlisted Artist

On her achievements and Polaris:

I would say a lot of it comes down to resilience and hard work...I've been spending time trying to find the right ways to discuss the topics that I think are important. [...] And so Polaris makes me feel acknowledged and validated in the steps that I've been taking towards this album...I would attribute it to long-standing hard work and continued work as well.

On developing 13th Floor:

It's a long time coming that I've gotten comfortable enough to make a record like 13th Floor...I knew that I was ready to make the record as it was coming together. It was obvious to me at that point that not only is this what I'm supposed to do, it's what I'm meant to do. Through the process of writing, I could tell by the the thoughts that were being formulated and the way they were being formulated that it was just logical to continue moving forward in this direction, it felt right. And the response definitely feels right as well.

It was a very organic process as well...I know often we just want to get content out. But with this record, we took the time that was required for the record to become the record. We built the plan around the record as opposed to wanting to be sure we had a record ready for a certain timeframe, and then rushing to meet deadlines.

On 13th Floor's success:

I think we really had a vision for what each song was going to say and I really stuck to that vision, and I really tapped into my authentic opinions. I think the lyricism comes from a place of thought, it comes from a place of passion, and I think that can be felt.

I think it's a combination of the music being strong and refined, and also me being a little bit more refined, having done this for a couple of years, and it's coming from a real place.

On family collaborations (with Omega Mighty, sister and fellow artist & Mighty Prynce, brother and producer)

I'd say our relationship is pretty similar musically as it is sibling-wise, because we all grew up on music. [...] A lot of our communication is based on music. My brother, every time he makes a beat he sends it to the whole family by email and then we all just respond...it's really cute.

Me and my sister, we've always done songs together and performed together...she'd pull me up for a song and I'd rap my one song with her. So it's kind of cool to be able to do that in reverse, bring her out like on Wishy Washy...working on a record together was really natural and normal.

All the best to Haviah Mighty with her new Polaris Prize and all that will come after! Don't forget to stay up to date with Polaris happenings throughout the year - it's a huge part of the Canadian music scene and a great way to discover some of the country's best artists!

Olivia Fava is a 2019 McMaster linguistics graduate, the current Community Outreach Coordinator at CFMU, and the host of MorningFile. Contact her through email at cfmucom@msu.mcmaster.ca.