“MIA” is the latest release from Absolutely, a rising young pop voice out of Los Angeles and, incidentally, also RAYE’s little sister. The 19-year-old singer — who goes by Abby — is currently on tour in the U.S. opening for her sister, an experience she describes as the “the best first tour I could have really,” she tells NYLON. “Her listeners are all so welcoming and loving and it’s been a great place to grow while being accepted for just being myself.”
But it’s also not hard to just like Absolutely’s music on its own because it’s, well, genuinely great. “MIA,” which NYLON exclusively premieres today, is an exemplar of her sound that she calls “alien pop:” a dash of rockish guitar, a bit of woozy soul, and a dose wobbly, discordant synths. There’s a strong melodic backbone that she adorns with her own quirks, scuzzying it up with contrasting textures while her silky voice flies free.
Per Absolutely, who grew up in London, she wrote the song about living in L.A. and navigating its social scene as an introvert. “Sometimes I really wish I was invisible,” she tells NYLON. “Whenever I go out to social events and parties I feel like I struggle to fit in. It feels like it’s all about social status, how many followers you have or how many designer labels you can display on one outfit. At least, living in L.A. that’s been a big part of my social experience. The song is me feeling like I want to hide away from it all and be alone. Sometimes I feel more lonely when I’m in a crowd of people then being at peace in my own presence.”
The song is part of a larger project coming later this year and seems like it’ll be chock full of other equally great songs like the already-released “Patterns” and “Symphony,” a ballad that showcases her impressive vocal ability in multiple dimensions.
Hear “MIA” below and read on to get to know more about Absolutely.
What are you up to right now - describe your surroundings.
Right now I’m in my little tour home, on the bus. The middle bunk bed on the left with my blinds shut, I put some fairy lights up to make it feel more homely and I’m all cozied up in my duvet. Its surprisingly super comfortable in here. I like being in the enclosed space sleeping, I feel like a little caterpillar in a cocoon. The driving also rocks me to sleep. We’re on our way to Texas at the moment, about to stop off at St. Louis for a break.
Your sister is RAYE, who you're on tour with right now. Do you talk with her about music and what's the best advice she's given you?
The best advice she’s ever given me was when I first started writing songs. I was about 13 and all I used to listen to was my SoundCloud playlist of new and random artists that I liked, great artists but to expand my mind and my skills I didn’t realize that I needed to also expand my playlist. So she showed me Jill Scott. I heard the way her writing is so conversational yet poetic. And it opened me up to a new way of writing. From then I started to listen and discover new artists and genres and find a real love for music.
What's the last album you played in full and enjoyed, and why did you like it?
The last album I listened to was Shepherd Moons by Enya. I love it so much. I like to find soundtracks for the seasons of my life and this album feels like the perfect fit for me right now. It feels like I’m listening to a journey and being on tour I am quite literally on one, but also metaphorically too. Her songs are peaceful and transcendental. And I like listening to her while I’m watching the trees pass by the windows. It makes me feel excited to reach my destination, as I can enjoy the experience of the journey.
Your music has been described as “alien pop.” What does “alien pop” mean to you?
Ever since I started my artist project I’ve found it hard to categorize my music. It’s a fusion of everything I’ve ever enjoyed listening to and of emotions and experiences that come together to make a new sound that is everything yet also like nothing in particular. It’s alien, it’s foreign but also familiar. The combination of the two words, “alien pop,” is almost oxymoronic. As alien is a word that is isolating, it’s an individuality that doesn’t fit with the rest. Whereas pop to me means that it’s music that everyone can enjoy. It's a space where the new alien sounds merge with familiar ones that are fun and easy to listen to, but also take you to another dimension while listening. It’s like imagine we were to tap into a pop radio station from another planet. What would the aliens be listening to?