On the prelude to Mia Sable’s self-released album “Propeller,” she asserts that “you’ve every right to your uncertainty, and me to my convictions.”
Accompanying the emergence of female artists in the independent music scene is the hasty characterization of these seemingly melancholic females as helpless. Though fifth-year theater student Mia Sable focuses on unhappy circumstances in her music, this does not describe her or the proactive attitude that has gotten her this far. Sans manager or label, Sable earned recognition as a female indie artist at last year’s Los Angeles Music Awards.
Fans will be able to see the fruits of her labor for themselves tonight, when Sable plays a set at the Genghis Cohen bar/restaurant on Fairfax Avenue at 8:45 p.m.
During her time at UCLA, Sable’s musicianship and her desire for emotional release through writing organically merged. Songwriting became her preferred method of catharsis.
“I love doing music because it has all the performance elements, but it is also such a nice individual release to say what you want to say to who you want to say it to,” Sable said. “It’s kind of like if you write that letter to that guy and you can’t give it to him, but you can post it on a bulletin board that’s public so everyone else can know. Eventually it will get back to him.”
Taking a cue from female artists such as Fiona Apple, Lily Allen, Regina Spektor and Jenny Lewis, Sable also desires to change the music climate for women into an atmosphere of expression rather than exploitation.
“Since around 1999, (the music scene has) gotten really sexual and every song is promiscuous or “˜me and you’ and there’s really nothing to counter that,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize that those songs are written by 55-year-old men for those artists. It’s not even women expressing female sexuality.”
Nonetheless, Sable is aware that a sophisticated and self-aware female voice will not appear out of nowhere and requires serious work from artists and fans alike.
“The music industry is still primarily male-dominated and most of those guys aren’t anxious for a feminist movement,” she said. “I think it is up to the fans and the young women out there to really be it, demand it and say “˜this is who I am.’”
An embodiment of this philosophy, Sable listens to a wide array of women singing about personal views and maintains a do-it-yourself attitude that has allowed her to win awards and play venues such as the Hotel Cafe.
“I’ve done everything myself so far in terms of writing songs, making the album, booking myself, and managing everything I am doing,” Sable said.
Though these tasks are not easy, Sable manages her time and is knowledgeable about the music industry. She is a former Daily Bruin A&E contributor, has taken UCLA Extension Music Industry courses, and gained first-hand experience through music-related internships.
“I am very into learning about the business and doing everything the smart way,” she said.
Though unsigned, Sable is conscious about the pros and cons of different-sized labels. Though the Los Angeles Music Awards labeled her “indie,” her goals may go beyond this term.
“If you have to give a little to ultimately get more freedom, money and exposure to ultimately do more then it’s worth it. But I wouldn’t just sell out for anything,” she said. “I would obviously consult well-versed people to make the right decisions to make sure what I am doing has integrity always, and is something that I can live with. It’s no good if you go crazy and pull a Britney Spears.”
While she wants to showcase for managers and labels this year, she realizes that she cannot wait around for a record executive to woo her.
“I have my own plans (for the future). I am re-launching MiaSable.com in April and I am planning on doing a low-budget music video for YouTube,” she said.
While some may shy away from the internet’s capability to expose, Sable embraces what it can offer. Sable’s MySpace page, for example, is close to reaching 10,000 friends and has allowed her to connect with fans all over the world.
“I sell CDs to people in Denmark and then they write me messages on MySpace and that’s just amazing because I’m like I go to UCLA and I write my songs in my bedroom,” she said.
On her MySpace page, Sable forges further intimacy through a blog. Though her songs are highly personal, her blog gives her the ability to inform fans about her life on a daily basis.
“People like to keep up with my escapades of failed dating and annoying ex-boyfriends,” she said. “(The blog) is good because people can feel like they know you and they write me and I am still at a point where I manage it myself so I can write back.”
Maintaining intimacy with fans is something Sable also hopes to accomplish through her songs. While she finds it flattering when a fan tells her that one of her songs pinpoints how they are feeling, she is most proud of being able to transform an abstract concept ““ feeling ““ into words.
“I know when I hear a song that puts into words what I am feeling, and maybe I don’t have words for it yet ““ it does something for you,” she said.
Sable’s music is, in turn, driven by her desire to transform her feelings into words.
“I am a very sensitive person and a lot of my songs are sad and that’s just the way it is,” she said. “One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ““ and it’s always stupid random people ““ say, “˜You should write happier songs’ or, “˜You’d be more successful if you wrote happy songs’ or, “˜Maybe if you wrote something people can dance to … .’”
Given all that Sable has been able to accomplish herself, it would be unfair to characterize her as a sad sack. Instead, she is an artist aware of her need to express herself.
“If I write all sad songs, that doesn’t mean I am a sad, depressed person; it’s just the kind of art I feel right expressing,” she said. “I’m not going to paint you a fruit basket. That’s not what I do.”