I wish someone told me that the music business is an actual business because when it’s time to get paid, there is a lot of paperwork and things you need to understand, so you aren’t taken advantage of. I have learned along the way and still am learning. I’ve probably missed out on some money because of my ignorance.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tia.
Tia is the moniker of Tiara Mills, a Lover’s Rock Reggae/Dancehall artist and singer-songwriter based out of the Virgin Islands. With her signature sensual vocal stylings and a seductive aura that permeates the airwaves, Tia has attracted success from all ends. From charting on the Top 5 on the Reggae iTunes Charts, to working with renowned industry figureheads including producers Troyton Hinds (Dancehall Grammy Nominee) and Dean Pond (Rymshot Productions), Tia has cemented her position as a name to look out for in 2020 and beyond. Her love for Reggae also developed early, with artists like Sizzla, Buju, and Tanya Stephens playing a pivotal role in shaping her sound into what it is today. She also cites contemporaries Alaine and Tarrus Riley as having a profound impact. Tia released her debut EP to the world, titled ‘Black Cocoon’ which topped the iTunes chart. Themes of life, love and reality mark the core of Tia’s music. Deeply personal anecdotes are interwoven into her tracks, as she recites her side of the story from the perspective of a young island woman. Much like her music, the creative process is as authentic as it gets, which is in part due to the indescribable euphoria Tia feels when in the state of flow. It’s unadulterated, it’s honest and it’s real — and Tia is eager to share that moment with you.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in the US Virgin Islands. When I was about 5, I moved to Georgia, where I did all of my schooling. I grew up listening to R&B and being very artistic, and always wanting to create something. Every summer break, I would visit my family in the Virgin Islands, and I was always drawn to reggae and dancehall, excited to learn whatever new song that was hot at the time.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was always interested in the arts growing up. I started off doing poetry, drawing, painting, hair, anything creative that allowed me to express myself. When I started working after high school, I quickly realized I was miserable if I wasn’t doing something creative. One day at my 9–5, I wrote a song while in the office. Later that day, I got some excellent feedback, and the rest was history.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think my entire career has been interesting and just the series of events that had to take place in order for me to be where I am right now. One of the most memorable experiences was just going to Jamaica for the first time and seeing artists that I looked up to just casually in a dance amongst the people.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The first time I ever performed in front of a crowd, I literally looked at everyone’s shoes. My heart was pounding so hard because I had serious stage fright. I quickly realized that I would have to somehow break free of my fear if I wanted to do this. So I signed up for a musical to help me feel more comfortable in front of people. The musical taught me about stage presence, how to engage with my audience, and the importance of practice.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The most exciting project I’m working on is my “Nice Up” song with the legendary Bounty Killer. We just released the music video on April 2nd which the response has been amazing. It feels like a dream come true to get a stamp of approval from someone that has brought so many artists into the industry.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is important because we are a diverse species. It’s as simple as that. Imagine if we lived in a world where everyone was the same. How lame would that be? I personally love to learn about other cultures and traditions around the world. So why shouldn’t we show that in entertainment? Everyone should feel represented. Everyone has contributed to who we are as a human race, so we should not exclude anyone.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone told me that the music business is an actual business because when it’s time to get paid, there is a lot of paperwork and things you need to understand, so you aren’t taken advantage of. I have learned along the way and still am learning. I’ve probably missed out on some money because of my ignorance.
- I wish someone told me never to put my self-worth into success. In the music industry, you might have many down days because things sometimes don’t work out how you expect, or your fans just don’t gravitate how you would like. So it’s very dangerous to determine your happiness off something as fickle as musical fame and support. My advice is to do it because you love it and leave the rest to God. I could have saved myself a lot of tears.
- I wish someone told me never to compare myself. I learned this the hard way at a performance. A great performer went on before me and did a fantastic job. So I tried to emulate the performer before and ended up making a fool of myself when I should have just been myself.
- I wish someone had told me how expensive the music industry is. There are many things that the artist has to pay for, and if you are not careful, you will end up in a hole. I remember I wanted to promote my song with I-Octane, but I spent so much traveling and shooting the video that I didn’t get to do as much promo as I wanted when the video dropped. So currently, I’m trying to get grants and sponsorships to help with the financial part.
- I wish someone told me what true failure is. True failure is when you achieve the things you work so hard for but still feel unfulfilled. I started to feel that way at one point in my career, and thank God I have a great support system to put things back in perspective for me. Life is way too short not to be grateful for every moment of it. As long as I have good health and people that love me, I could never fail.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I have learned to accept help. As an artist, you cannot do everything by yourself. I recently discovered this when I met my manager Troyton. I had to learn to trust him and the rest of my team to handle specific tasks, so I would have more time to focus on my craft.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would take money out of politics. This would force politicians to care about the people and not the big corporations that stay in their pockets. This would almost certainly have a domino effect, from helping with things like climate change, world hunger, human trafficking, and poverty as a whole. The greed of man is why we are on such a path of destruction.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are three people I would like to thank.
First, my husband, he has been there with me every step of the way and has helped in every aspect of my success.
Next is my mom. She has been my biggest cheerleader and very insistent that I get the business right.
Then there’s my manager Troyton who is a household name on his own. He has helped propel my career to the next level. The fact he believes in my talent so much has really made the industry take notice.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Life is too short not to be grateful for every second of it. As an artist, you tend to focus on the things you feel are essential to your career, and you may feel like the level of success you have reached isn’t enough. But life itself isn’t a guarantee, and I think the pandemic has shown us that not only can it change, but it can end unexpectedly.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would have to say Rihanna. I feel like being an island girl, she has always been someone who made many women in the Caribbean feel like anything was possible. She also is an artist that keeps it real and does not always try to be politically correct. So I think she would be super open to giving career advice as a female artist coming out of the Caribbean.
How can our readers follow you online?
Follow me on YouTube @officialtiavevo
And Facebook at Tia Mills
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!