Haviah Mighty chats about her new mixtape, the Polaris Prize and her dream collab

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Watch the full interview with Haviah Mighty above

When your parents give you the name Haviah Mighty it means you don’t really have to worry about thinking of a name for your music career. “I don’t think I ever thought about a name,” she tells me during our Zoom call. “It just made sense as it was, and it never occurred to me to meet to have an alias because I guess the name just kind of sounds like one already. Because I’ve gone through processes of like trying to figure out album titles or song titles and stuff, but I’ve never gone through that process with my name, which is like, probably the most kind of dreadful kind of anxiety-provoking thing cause it’s like everything you are and it’s what people will call you. So it’s nice that I never had to worry about that.”

The Toronto x Brampton artist recently delivered her new Stock Exchange mixtape, following her 2019 Polaris Music Prize-winning album, 13th Floor. The project features an array of highly acclaimed singles and guests, launching exactly one year ago with the powerful track, AtlanticHaviah celebrates her ever-evolving and progressive career with numerous accolades and live shows – defying all odds around a time of change worldwide. The final album track, SoSo, featuring Queens, New York rapper, Dai Burger, rings in the occasion with bold bars, catchy production (a collaboration between Haviah Mighty, Devontée and Weird Mahdi) and unwavering confidence. 

For many musicians, the situation with COVID-19 has seen them losing inspiration or being unsure how to continue as an artist. Not so for Haviah, who says she decided early on to make the most of a bad situation.

“I luckily invested in some resources right before the pandemic to create kind of the quality of music that I wanted to make in my basement. And so that was like, the pivot for me was like, well, just make music, but there’s nothing else right now. And those songs, those individual songs that were not supposed to be a body of work became a body of work based on the releasing of the records and how each song had an interesting perception of value through the releases, which led to Stock Exchange kind of coming together. And then me putting these songs together as a collective. And I would say in addition to that, doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work that I hadn’t had the opportunity to do, cool challenges like production for companies that are pretty big, not being the artist that’s singing, but being the producer and engineer and playing that role or, you know, voicing the Door Dash commercial, the different things like that. Those things were also coming in while I was working on my music, while I was doing virtual performances. So it was a lot of work. It was just different. It looked different and you know, in a weird way, you know, terrible times and there’s so much bad that has come with it, but in a weird way, like I, as an individual, I’m grateful for kind of the expansion that I have had mentally over this time, learning how to, you know, almost like increase avenues of revenue, but like also increase avenues of optimism and inspiration and challenging myself in ways that I probably wouldn’t have if I was busy playing shows all year.”

Following Haviah’s 2019 Polaris Music Prize-winning album, 13th Floor, Stock Exchange highlights a guest list of international artists, including multiple Latin GRAMMY-winning Barcelona-based artist, Mala Rodríguez (Flamenco), UK artist, Yizzy (Protest), US artists Jalen Santoy (Way Too Fast) and Old Man Saxon (Antisocial), to  Toronto’s Astrokidjay (Coulda Been U), JUNO Award-winning rapper, TOBi (Good On My Own Tonight), and Toronto DJ and Producer Grandtheft (Avocado). The title, Stock Exchange, refers to a reckoning Haviah had internally over the last year, connecting with how artists are forced to validate their value based on random data – such as followers and subscribers – and losing a part of the authentic human-to-human universal experience of art. 

“These statistics that we use to compare ourselves to others and to define our successes, have become proof of our worth. It’s all perception,” Haviah reflects. “These ideas around perceived value got me thinking about the Stock Exchange. Seeing parallels between the way it flows – the constant rising and falling – all dictated by the general public’s perception of an entity’s value, and ultimately how that influences the moves that we make as individuals.”

Haviah covers a range of ideas and topics: the roots of capitalism, systemic racism, self-awareness, independence, strength in community, and beyond. For a behind-the-scenes look, Haviah has been producing visual pieces expanding on the process of each song for her YouTube series, The Making Of. Watch them here.

The mixtape also highlights Haviah’s expansion as a producer, as well as with her collaborators, such as Toronto’s DevontéeTaabu, her brother, Prynce2x (formerly Mighty Prynce), Denise De’ionSaucy Junky, MTL-based Young Dreadz, and Weird Mahdi. Haviah has been depicting the project through incredible visuals, – TeslaProtest and Obeah – while blackpowerbarbie is at the helm for the incredible artwork and animated excerpts.

I ask her who would be top of her list when it comes to dream collabs. “That probably changes every day. But like right now, top of the list to collaborate with would be somebody that is really well known and respected, but also someone that would allow me, even as a nobody, to kind of like add my musical flare to it. Right now, Rihanna comes to mind. I don’t know why, but it would be really great to work with an artist like Rihanna, because I know she’s a vocalist and probably has a lot of understanding about what that means and how she wants that to come across. But I feel like when she’s worked with a lot of producers, she’s allowed to have a lot of say in the dictation of a record. So I think it would be really cool to work with an artist like her.” 

Over the last two years, Haviah has been expanding her career on a global scale. This year, Haviah won the Prism Prize for her video for ThirteenShe returned to the road and stage, with performances across Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland, including CityView Drive-In and opening for Arkells’ Long Weekend at Budweiser Stage (Toronto), smashing Ottawa’s Cranium Festival and Osheaga Get Together in Montreal, before crossing the pond to the UK for her debut at FOCUS Wales, with a session on BBC Radio’s Future Artists with Jack Saunders. 

Now Haviah is setting her sights on 2022, where she will support Arkells on a national run across Canada, although there’s no Montreal shows planned just yet. Details and tickets can be found on Haviah’s website

Stock Exchange is out now.

Photo credit – Yung Yemi

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