Christmas has come early for Mya's state-side fans. The Grammy-winning singer and dancer will release the U.S./Canada deluxe version of her seventh studio album, "K.I.S.S.," on Dec. 20. "This is more a gift to the fans," Mya told Billboard.com's The Juice of the project, which was previously released only in Japan.
"K.I.S.S. ("Keep It Sexy and Simple") represents Mya's life today. "It's about being cool and drama-free. And everything I do reflects that," she says. "The people that I associate with, the circle that I keep is real simple and sometimes we think or we're trained to believe that you always have to have more, more, more to make ourselves feel happy or beautiful, but it's the other way around for me. Simplicity is sexy."
Back in 1998, Mya released her debut, self-titled album, which peaked at No. 13 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart. "Fear of Flying" (2000) fared even better at No. 7, with the single "Case of the Ex" reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart. In 2001, she took home a Grammy for "Lady Marmalade," her massive No. 1 single with P!nk , Christina Aguilera , Lil Kim , and Missy Elliott . A role in the hit film "Chicago" and other acting opportunities followed. After she released "Moodring" in 2003, with the exception of a popular stint on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2009 (she finished second), it seemed as if Mya had left the entertainment industry. "It appears that I've just stopped, and I haven't. I've been elsewhere," she says.
"Elsewhere" is the Japanese market, which Mya began catering to in 2007 after a mishap with the release of her much-delayed fourth album. "'Liberation' was actually leaked, or released in Japan without my knowledge," she says. "When they changed the release date, there was one territory where they forgot to pull it back from and that was Japan. So Japan had the album digitally, and then from there it leaked." Instead of spending a year and "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in court suing her record label, Motown/Universal, she opted out of her contract and started her own independent label, Planet 9. The album was not released anywhere else. "From there, Japan asked me to do more albums because they loved 'Liberation,'" Mya tells The Juice. She released "Sugar & Spice" (2008) and "K.I.S.S." (last April), all solely in Japan.
While the original version of "K.I.S.S." contains J-Pop songs, Mya says the deluxe edition is more of her traditional style. "It's R&B, urban [and] also Pop. It's fun, young with perspective and opinion." There are up-tempo tracks, as well as ballads, like "Love Comes Love Goes," that tackle "deeper issues." She singles out "Evolve," a "heartfelt, mid-tempo" song as one of her favorites. "[It's] about having determination and will power through it all... and not letting anything stop you," Mya says. "It represents where I am in my life."
Some of the album's guest artists include Marques Houston , Iyaz , and Trina , who appears on the single, "Earthquake." "Trina and I worked together for her mixtape initially, 'Diamonds Are Forever,' and collaborated on a song for her album called 'Can I,' and we did a trade-off situation, being that we're both independent," the singer says. "And I thought she was real appropriate for the record because she comes with that swag."
One of the standout tracks is the new single "Somebody Come Get This Bitch (SCGTB)" featuring Stacie & Lacie. "It's a catty, girl record," Mya tells The Juice. Inspired by the "gay club scene" Mya says, the track received a positive response when Mya debuted it on Twitter. "In the song a clique calls out for help and assistance before your reflexes take over when the girlfriend of a girlfriend tags along on a night out, but is doing WAY too much. Late as hell, still a hot mess, catty comments, lots of shade, irresponsible and has to be babysat," she says. "We're all trying to keep it sexy and simple and now THIS chick. Not the flow. What would I say in this scenario? 'Somebody come get this bitch.'"
Despite the interesting material, Mya doesn't have any plans to shoot videos or do extensive promotion for the album. "K.I.S.S. is just a boutique album that I'm offering fans under the radar. If they want it, it's accessible now," she says. "This is just more of an appetizer. I've already started on what people will be looking forward to."
Mya remains quiet on what the next album will sound like, but she will release it "when it's ready and supported properly." She is open to working with a major label again, "if a comfortable situation presents itself." "My priority is serving my fans worldwide now, versus the one-off, independent situation that I've been doing," Mya says. "I'm still going to put out my mixtapes. I still may do projects in Japan, but my focal point and priority is to bring it back home."
Mya's fans "at home" can currently see her live. "I'm always performing, I'm always hustling. I'm always performing at Gay Pride events," she says. Mya also keeps busy teaching dance through her Arts & Tech Foundation, and she recently co-starred in the film "The Heart Specialist." While she wants to continue acting and moving into other areas, such as artist development, her music comes first. "I want to serve my fans before I start going into other territories and doing other things, which I would love to do. But I know that I need to take care of the first thing, which is what I was doing in the first place, and that's my music."
- The Juice