At 17, pop artist Pia Mia (born Pia Mia Perez) was a fresh Los Angeles transplant from Guam — and landed her first recording contract with Interscope in 2013. “I was an Island girl, basically out here alone navigating Hollywood, trying to figure out the music industry and how I was going to make my dreams a reality,” she recalls. “It was a lot to deal with.”
Through the label, she released one EP, 2013’s The Gift, but it was her R&B-influenced pop single “Do It Again,” that arrived two years later and featured Chris Brown and Tyga, which helped her reach a much larger audience and score her Hot 100 debut (the track peaked at No. 71). In spite of her momentum, though, she faced a series of delays for her following project and as a result, decided to pursue her career as an independent artist. In 2017 she released the long-awaited The Gift 2, and in 2019 the success of her single “Bitter Love” made her rethink her next step; specifically, returning to a major label.
“I just felt really lost in my career,” the 23 year old says now. “I had put my whole life into this, and I just wasn’t seeing how it was going to play out.” She recalls watching “Bitter Love” rake in streams, “but it could only be so big independently,” she says, “and that’s a perfect example of where I needed a full-blown music team to give a song like that the platform and the push that it deserved.”
So, she and her lawyer, Damien Granderson, set out to find her a music manager. He introduced her to Austin Rosen, founder of Electric Feel Entertainment (Post Malone, Louis Bell) and their meeting quickly evolved into a signing conversation. “Austin saw me for the artist that I am,” says Pia Mia. “We’ve always been on the same page. It’s rare to find people that get your vision from the jump — and he did.”
Says Rosen: “she had a global superstar presence about her that couldn’t be ignored. Her voice captivates anyone who hears it … and she brings an insane work ethic and drive — that’s not always easy to find in an artist.” Together, they decided that Republic Records would be “the biggest and best fit” for a label partner, as Pia Mia says, and soon started negotiations. Now, on Thursday (May 14), Electric Feel/Republic are officially announcing her co-signing.
Before she signed with Republic, though, Pia Mia had yet to record a new track she felt all-in on. But while driving to her friend’s house an hour-and-a-half away, blasting throwback songs in the car, “Kiss Kiss” by Chris Brown and T-Pain came on — and inspired her. “I just instantly knew what I was going to do in the studio that night,” she recalls. So, she went in and recorded what is now her Electric Feel/Republic debut, “Princess,” what she calls a “powerful, confident and sexy” R&B-pop track that, of course, samples “Kiss Kiss.” She recalls FaceTiming Rosen right after to tell him, “’We made a fucking smash’ — I hadn’t had that feeling since ‘Do It Again.’”
Things were finally falling into place — a new record deal and, eventually, a new manager in Troy Carter, founder/CEO of Q&A — but then, just as Pia Mia was gearing up for her next era, the pandemic hit and she found herself once again rethinking her next move. “We were kind of waiting to see what was happening in the world,” she says, “and then this resurgence of ‘Do It Again’ happened [on TikTok] and it felt like the stars were aligning.” (About three weeks ago, Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp created a dance challenge to the track that since went viral, with influencers from Charli D’Amelio to Addison Rae joining in).
Now, Pia Mia is capitalizing on the momentum and on Friday (May 15) will release “Princess” after all, complete with a visualizer filmed via FaceTime (her big-budget music video plans are on hold due to the coronavirus). “I was bracing myself to be like, ‘Okay, I’m going back into the major label system, I need to prepare to create this music that I love and then be told that I have to wait months on end for something to come out’ and that was just not the case,” she says. “When I heard that Avery [Lipman] had set the date, I was like, ‘This is exactly how I wanted things to play out.’ Me, Troy Carter, Austin Rosen, Avery and Monte [Lipman], that’s the army. I could not ask for more.”
“We wanted to really make sure everything was right for Pia,” says Joshua Berkman, VP A&R at Republic. “There’s only so many opportunities you get to reinvent and reintroduce yourself. In 2020, discovery feels like it’s occurring at a faster rate than ever before, and we wanted to make sure all eyes were on Pia as the next half of her story is written.” As Pia Mia says: “I’ve been in such a strong creative place, and it’s not going to stop — we’re going to keep coming.”