Danielle Robles

People We've Met: VIAA

Danielle Robles
People We've Met: VIAA

by Anjelica Jardiel

Name: Mia Coleman (aka VIAA)
Age: 28
Occupation: Musician

Where are you from?  
I was born in Germany and lived there until I was 9 years old, then we moved to Ohio and that's where I was until I moved to LA when I was 21. In my young eyes, Germany was beautiful, culturally diverse, and progressive. Ohio was less so, it felt more regressive and discriminative. I was never bullied in Germany for my race, the way I looked, etc - but when we moved to Ohio, I started being bullied for things like that. I felt like I had to navigate my way through until I could leave to go somewhere more liberal and progressive again.

Where do you live now? 
I live in LA now. I love it because I feel more at home in the presence of like minded people in terms of artistry, politics, culture, etc. I moved here because I knew my career goals in music would benefit from being here, I love the weather, and I also initially was accepted to FIDM where I ended up graduating from. 

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Tell us a bit about your journey as a whole musician/artist. How did you get started? What was your first opportunity you got really excited about?
I always sang when I was younger, more so in competitions or recitals. Then I started making my own music around 19 years old and performing that. Once I moved to LA, I attended school and took a break from music but the first opportunity I got really excited about and what brought me back into music was a backup singing gig I got for Doja Cat. After that I started working on my own music with producers I'd met through that, then got bigger gigs like back up singing on tour with Anderson Paak. After that tour was over I focused solely on my own music, releasing music and performing and now some amazing opportunities have opened up for me.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration? 
Sade, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Frank Ocean, Dev Hynes, Kanye West, Meshell Ndegeocello 

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Where does the name VIAA come from? 
I was having trouble coming up with a moniker and I did not want to use my legal name for my new project. So I decided on something that was as close to it as possible so I wouldn't feel too weird saying it to people. I added the extra A for easy searching.

What is tour life like? 
The good aspects of touring are that you get paid to travel, experience new places and do what you love which is sing/perform. The bad aspects of touring are that you are out of your element in terms of not being around the people you most trust, so sometimes you deal with people and behavior that is not favorable.

How do you feel about fame? 
Fame is pretty scary to me. It has it's perks I'm sure, but I don't know how much privacy I would be willing to give up, and when you're famous, privacy is a luxury that can be taken away at any given moment. Especially with the technology we have now to magnify and scrutinize people for every thing they do or say, it seems like you have to be a really special type of personality to grow accustomed to fame. The level of fame I would want would be similar to like Santigold or something. She is well-known, a fairly household name with music, but she is not in the public eye unless she just released something or is touring, otherwise she has a very private, low key lifestyle.

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How do you stay humble?  
I think I stay humble by just being in the music industry. One day you feel like everything is falling into place or you're on top, then the next day things get snatched out from under you. It's a pretty humbling experience to consistently have highs and lows in a career that has no set path to success.

When times get tough and you feel discouraged, what keeps you going? 
When times get tough I look to my friends in music to not feel so isolated. Everyone who is forging a career in the arts, specifically as an entrepreneur, has felt or is feeling discouraged at any given point too. I just remind myself that I'm not the only one out here struggling or grinding, and if I just keep persisting, it's inevitable I will get to where I want to go.

What is "success" to you? 
Success to me is finding the thing that makes you most happy, doing it as often as you can and hopefully making a living doing that. Success doesn't necessarily mean being rich or famous, I think success starts small with finding happiness with what you're doing just for yourself, then when that product/happiness spreads and gets positive response from other people it turns into another really cool aspect of success.

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Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? 
I see myself making a living making music for myself and writing music for other artists.  I would like to be touring with my music as well, because one of my favorite aspects of my career is performing and I want to see the world through my music.  I also see myself branching out with my brand making products like clothing, home decor etc because that is also something I'm really passionate about coming from a design background (FIDM etc).

Where is your favorite place you've traveled to and why? 
I think my favorite place I've traveled as an adult is Costa Rica.  The natives are really welcoming, the ocean is warm and the sand and landscape is beautiful.  I got to surf there which is something I've been trying to do every place I go now where the conditions are right for it.  However, to be honest, I really love Palm Springs too lol. 

Where are you dying to go next? 
I'm dying to go to Italy again.  As a family we used to travel all through Europe since we lived in Germany, and I've always really connected with it.  I would also like to go to Greece, Africa, and Japan.

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What do you think the world needs now more than ever? 
I think the world needs empathy, compassion and support.  Certain aspects of our culture right now, for example who has been elected president of U.S., are really divisive and discriminative.  I think everyone's motto should just be live and let live, if it's not harming you physically or directly, than just let it be and find happiness within yourself and your surroundings.