Despite her short time as an artist, Mia Baron is already making an impression. The 13-year-old singer-songwriter began her music career by building a platform on YouTube, posting covers of songs by popular artists like Demi Lovato and Olivia Rodrigo. Now, with a handful of singles under her belt, she’s ready for her breakout moment.
As part of our Women in Music & Mental Health series, we spoke to Mia about Madison Beer, the toxicity of social media, and the inspiration behind her first two singles.
HangTime: So to start I just wanted to ask you about some of the responses that you gave to the screening questions. Thank you so much for answering those by the way. So in response to the question, “What role has your art played in your healing process,” you said, “writing is sort of therapy for me because I get to write about things that have happened to me that I normally don’t talk about and it’s easier to say it in my songs.” So I just wanted to ask if you could elaborate on that a little bit and speak to why you feel it’s easier to talk about things in your music and what it is about the songwriting process that has this effect.
Mia Baron: Well, I feel like some people, when you try to open up about your problems, they won’t really listen as well. If it’s in song, people love songs and stuff so they would listen and they could relate while listening to [the] music.
HT: Okay, so you feel like it’s almost easier to communicate what you’re talking about if it’s in song form?
MB: Yeah, because many people could relate. Not saying they can’t relate if I say it just regular but people love music and when they listen to music they wanna relate to it.
HT: Absolutely, and that kind of relates to another response you gave when we asked about how your art has helped you overcome something. You mentioned that your new song, ‘Friend To Me’, did that because writing it made you realize that you need to face your emotions more and take care of your emotional health, and you also said that you hope that other people will relate to the song and that it will help them face their own feelings. So, since you just mentioned that when people can relate to your music it makes it almost easier to connect with them on that level, how important do you think that level of relatability is when you write? Do you actively try to write songs you think other people will connect with or do you primarily write for yourself and then if it does resonate then that’s great, but it’s not a number one priority?
MB: Well, of course I wanna connect with people and a lot of my problems would probably connect with people, but I think that I also wanna get my experiences out to the world so that other people can hear. They may relate, they may not, it’s just a way to talk about my problems by singing it.
HT: Absolutely. So we also asked how other artists’ work has helped in your own healing process and you explained that “it makes me feel like I’m not the only one facing the same problem and I’m not alone.” So I was wondering if you can think of any other artists whose work you would say you’ve connected with the most on this level and if there’s any artist in particular whose work has helped you through a hard time that would make you feel this way?
MB: I think Madison Beer. I love her. She has a lot of songs that I can relate to. The one that I really can relate to is the song, ‘Dear Society’, which is about the internet and stuff and how it can cause so many mental health issues because [of] all the things you see. It can just get some stuff into your head and it can cause something. So yeah, the internet is just a bad place and that’s basically what the song is and I can relate to that.
HT: Totally, I love Madison Beer as well. You also sent some press for ‘Friend To Me’ [where] you said it was a story about emotional self-neglect and that treating yourself this way can only lead to bad places of potential self-hate and depression. And I wanted to ask, song is a really interesting concept to me because it’s sort of positioning yourself as though you are a friend to yourself and sort of exploring that relationship and how we speak to ourselves and view ourselves, and I was wondering if the song is meant to be a conversation entirely with yourself or when you say “you” in the song, if it’s meant to be speaking to another person at certain points?
MB: This song is just basically mental health, like being a bad friend to yourself, not treating yourself right, even though you should treat yourself right, you should love yourself. It’s just like, “hey, how’ve you been?” Like, you know, you should talk to yourself and try to understand what you’re going through, and just be better to yourself ‘cause you only have one you and you should love yourself.
HT: Totally. So what was it like writing a song in this format, almost like trying to reach yourself? That must be such an interesting experience to write and know that you’re speaking to yourself and trying to almost beg for your own forgiveness or understanding or something like that. What was that like?
MB: Well, it was pretty easy because like I ask myself, “why do I do this?” And it’s basically just like, I put those questions into the song and just ask myself in the song.
HT: Right. You also released what I believe was your first single earlier this year, ‘Hide and Seek’. That was your first single that you released?
HT: Yeah, and it primarily deals with feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Can you explain a little bit how you came up with that whole metaphor of hide and seek and what that song means to you and the experience of writing it?
MB: So, ‘Hide and Seek’, it was basically about when I first moved to a new school in Grade 6, it was kinda hard ‘cause everyone was like in their own group and I did not have any friends. I was shy and everyone else was so confident and put themselves out there to find new friends. So basically it was like a game of hide and seek: I would hide in the bathroom and eat lunch alone and I would wait for someone to find me and be my friend. So I thought that was like a game of hide and seek, something like that. For someone to find me but they never did.
HT: Do you find that writing or even just trying to compare real life experiences through metaphor and analogy—do you find it easier to express yourself in that way, in your songs?
MB: I think it’s cooler, it’s kinda like a puzzle for people to try to figure out, but yeah, it’s really cool.
HT: So sort of shifting gears a bit, a lot of what we’ve been talking about and a lot of what this series is focusing on [is] how creating and being an artist is beneficial to one’s mental health and can be like a cathartic experience as an artist, but I’m also interested in like the flip side of that ‘cause I feel like a lot of artists talk about how, despite loving creating music and loving being an artist, there’s also certain amounts of pressure, whether that’s from external forces or whether that’s coming from yourself. Do you ever feel like being an artist and creating music ever negatively affects your mental health, whether it is through this pressure or in any other kind of way?
MB: I think that if you just do your best, love what you’re doing, it won’t stress you out or anything. But if there’s too much on your plate, it would stress you out and affect you a lot, but it depends. If you love what you’re doing then you would be ready for—it’s just a part of being an artist.