Mitski Doesn't Want To Be "Your Best American Girl"
We went behind the scenes for her music video
Photo courtesy of Zia Anger
For the Tumblr generation, Mitski Miyawaki has become a modern-day indie darling. Even though the title has been four or five years in the making, some of us weren't reeled in until 2014's Bury Me at Makeout Creek. When her nostalgic tunes can't provide the comfort you need, there is her Twitter where she keeps people informed about her thoughts on the importance of stress, how she would react if aliens invaded earth, the double-edged sword of having a cat, body positivity, embracing your face, and not letting boys define who you are.
In a way, you feel like you know Mitski on a personal level even though this is far from true. She's relatable, and because we feel like she gets us, we can identify with her. (I mean, who else is open about discussing Justin Bieber, One Direction, Zayn Malik, and Rihanna in the same breath as smashing the patriarchy?) While having a connection to teens is important to mosts artists on the market, Mitski is also aware of the power this position yields.
"It’s so important and I think it’s so valuable that kids confused about their identity can go out and be like, 'I’m going to Google search this' or 'I want to look for other people like me.' If they look hard enough they can find those communities online," she says. "But at the same time, because we, as a culture or a world, are still kind of getting used to having information all the time, I think we need to figure out a way to live with it in a healthy way. With the Internet, sometimes the person who’s screaming the loudest is heard, but it doesn’t mean that they’re being helpful or they’re saying something healthy for you. So, what scares me with teens is a lot of times, it’s so easy to fall in love with an idea or a subculture because it is just screaming at you, and it might not be the best thing for you."
This morning, Mitski officially released the music video for her single, "Your Best American Girl." In what she calls a "dramatic song" off her forthcoming sophomore album Puberty 2, Mitski reflects on her mixed identity as a half-Japanese and half-American woman—something that's still an ongoing conversation for her.
"I still haven’t found it, with a capital I," she explains. "In the U.S., I don’t quite feel American and I don’t quite feel white enough. But then, to fellow Asian people or in Japan, I’m also a foreigner. I’m mixed, I’m half white, I’m not Asian enough, I don’t understand... I’m stuck in this kind of middle ground of not being allowed in either camp. I also didn’t grow up in the U.S. and I also didn’t really grow up in Japan. I grew up moving around because of my father’s occupation, so I truly, fundamentally don’t belong anywhere. That’s always difficult when it comes to relating to other people or being part of a community or being in a relationship because you need some sort of point of reference; you need kind of a basis or a foundation where you can relate to each other."
The Zia Anger-directed music video explored the dynamics of the quintessential white indie stereotype that has become so common in America today. Even though Mitski didn't come up with the treatment for the video, she affirmed that the resulting concept reiterates her original intent when she wrote the song. "I’ve learned that sometimes, the best thing to do is let people just do what they’re best at. And so with this video, the moment I got to know Zia, I was like, 'Oh, I can just let her take the reins and trust her on this, and then it’s going to be her vision, but it’s going to be amazing."
Read the rest of the interview on the next page and watch the entire video, below.
Catch Mitski on tour with Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som:
April 17- Brussels, Belgium @ Ancienne Belgique (solo)
April 19- London, UK @ Birthdays (solo)
April 21- Paris, France @ Le Mécanique Ondulatoire (solo)
April 23- Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso Basement (solo)
June 20- New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom *
June 22- Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
June 23- Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle *
June 24- Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA *
June 25-Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
June 26- Durham, NC @ The Pinhook *
June 28- Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade: Purgatory *
June 29- Birmingham, AL @ The Syndicate Lounge *
July 1- Houston, TX @ Walter’s Downtown *
July 2- Austin, TX @ The Sidewinder *
July 3- Dallas, TX @ Three Links *
July 5- Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge *
July 6- Santa Ana, CA @ The Constellation Room *
July 7- Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
July 8- San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill *
July 9- Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club *
July 11- Portland, OR @ Analog Theater *
July 12- Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt *
July 13- Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile *
July 15- Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
July 16- Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *
July 19- Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
July 20- Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall *
July 22- Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern *
July 23- Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz *
July 25- Portland, ME @ SPACE Gallery *
July 27- Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg *
Photo courtesy of Zia Anger