Pia Mia Talks Breakthrough Hit “Do It Again,” Her Debut Album & Keeping It Real: Idolator Interview

Mike Wass | June 5, 2015 9:00 am
Pia Mia And Austin Mahone Cover "Fill Me In"
Pia Mia teams up with Austin Mahone for a soulful cover of Craig David's "Fill Me In."

Pia Mia makes the leap from YouTube sensation to credible pop star look easy with “Do It Again.” A sultry collaboration with Chris Brown and Tyga about a different kind of one-night stand, the looming summer smash is quickly racking up spins on rhythmic radio and steadily creeping up iTunes. Impressive considering the big-budget video — and a major promotional push — is yet to come.

I recently caught up with the 18-year-old to talk about her breakthrough hit. Pia explained its evolution from a solo song to a collaboration, and addressed the sexy content. She also opened up about her upcoming debut album and the veritable cavalcade of A-List producers that she has worked with. (The Guam native has been in the studio with everyone from Justin Bieber to Wallpaper). Find out more about the rising star below.

Did you know that “Do It Again” was special when you recorded it?
I originally made “Do It Again” with Nic Nac and Marc Griffin. It was a record with only me on it. When we made the song, this was like a year ago, I knew there was something special about it. I’ve been pushing for this song to be the single. One day Nic Nac was in a session with Chris Brown and Tyga. I stopped by the session just to say what’s up and vibe out.

“Do It Again” got played in that session. When Chris and Tyga heard it they were like, “Yo. This song is super dope. Can we get on it?” So then Chris and Tyga got on it. Then the feeling I had in the beginning about “Do It Again” was amplified a million times. We all were just like, let’s go with this one.

What was it like actually working with Chris and Tyga?
It was dope. They genuinely wanted to be on the record, which is a huge thing for me because that’s how I am when I work. I only do things that I personally want to do. It was nice to be able to work with artists that like the record and wanted to do it and they’re artists that I’ve listened to for forever. They were great. It’s cool for me to be able to watch people work and learn their work ethic and how they work in the studio. It was really good.

This song has a very sexy tone…

Do you ever worry what your mom or family will think of the lyrics?
Not really. I’ve always been very open about my personality. I grew up on an island, so I grew up in a swimsuit. I’m not afraid. I’m not ashamed of my body or my thoughts or my experiences. I’ve always just been open about that. Since I’ve been open with that with my family, they’ve been really supportive with me and what I go through in life and how I feel about things.

I’ve never really felt uncomfortable about it. I think everyone goes through the same experiences in life and we should all just be upfront and straight up about it. We all go through the same things. To me, I don’t think being sexy is a big deal. I don’t try to do that, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

Is that why you’ve amassed such a loyal following? That honesty?
I think a lot of girls, and just a lot of people in general, identify with me because on my Twitter, I’m very honest and I just put my life on there. Also, with my Snapchat and in my music, just across all borders I’m very… I’m just who I am. I speak my mind, I talk about my experiences in life. I think that’s why people connect with me. They probably can relate to the things I’m going through.

You’ve already done some amazing videos. What do you have in mind for “Do It Again”?
We’re about to shoot the video. We’re just confirming the concept and everything like that. It’s definitely going to have dance incorporated, dope fashion because fashion is a huge thing for me. Music and fashion go hand-in-hand for me. Chris and Tyga are going to be in the video, so that’ll be cool. I’ve never done a music video where I’ve like, had another artist in it. It’s going to be something new.

Will “Do It Again” be on another EP or your debut album?
Debut album, for sure.

So that’s your next step?
Yeah. I’ve been working on my album for about a year and a half. I’m going to keep recording up until it comes out. You never know what you’re going to find or what you’re going to create. This is the first official single from my album. I’ve never had a single before. Now, we have a real album and we’re having a real push and big budget music videos. It’s all very new and exciting.

Who else have you been in the studio with apart from Nic Nac?
I’ve been in with a bunch of producers. I’ve been in with Rock City, Benny Blanco, Wallpaper. I’ve been in with Justin Bieber — he was a writer and a producer in the session. I’ve been in with Ty Dolla Sign. I’m blanking on so many people. I’ve been really lucky. I got in with Ester Dean. I got in with Naughty Boy. I’ve been in with a ton of people and I’ve been really lucky because I come from the island of Guam. This is just very surreal to me. I never thought that I’d be working with artists that I’ve always looked up to.

How many songs do you have to choose from now?
I’ve recorded 100 songs, if not more.

How do you choose the songs that make the album? What’s the process?
That’s the hardest part because I love all the records that we’ve done. I’m very involved in all of them. That’s a big thing for me, being real and having a part in everything I do. It’s cool because all the songs I’ve done I personally can relate to. It’s hard to choose because everything is really, really good.

With so many amazing songs to choose from, does that mean previously released gems like “Fuck With U” won’t make the cut?
“Fuck With U” — I didn’t even intend for that to really do anything. It’s crazy. It got 11 million views in 11 weeks. No promotion, nothing. I was just trying to throw music out there just in the meantime while I’ve been working on stuff, while I was waiting for my official single to come out.

I don’t know if that’ll be on the album or not. It probably will. That was a record that we just kind of threw out there just for the fans, just to give them something to listen to in the meantime. That was crazy. That really did well. G-Eazy is an artist that I love and really have like, fangirled over. He’s been really supportive of me. He invites me to perform at his shows and do “Fuck With U” with him.

He had me perform on the main stage of Power House with him. I’ve been really lucky with the artists that I’ve worked with because they’ve genuinely enjoyed the records that we’ve done together.

Talking about G-Eazy, are there going to be more collabs on the album?
Yeah, there will definitely be more features. There’s a few artists that I want to work with that I haven’t yet. I think it’d be crazy to do a song with Kanye West or Drake. There’s going to be more features. Definitely.

Kanye and Drake are your dream collaborators?
Kanye is my ultimate dream, to have a song with Kanye and do a video. I don’t know. “Do It Again,” though. Chris and Tyga are artists that I really admire. I’m just so stunned by “Do It Again.” I just can’t even. I just got to hold off on thinking about anything else. I’m just too excited to shoot this video.

On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of pop fans found your music via the Austin Mahone collab. How did that come about?
The song that we covered was a Craig David record. We just thought it would be cool to have a male voice on it and thought of Austin Mahone. We thought the younger fans would enjoy that. We did the record with Austin, we shot a music video for it just like, off a phone. We did it super low key. No budget, nothing. That was cool. Austin’s a great guy. I like his music a lot too.

You’ve come so far from making YouTube covers. Can you talk about that journey?
I always had the big picture in mind. I’ve been singing since I was 8 and I’ve been doing my YouTube covers since then. My sister Candice opened my YouTube channel and she ran that for me until I was about 10 or 11, when I realized people actually liked my covers. I’ve been doing covers and social media videos for a long time. The big picture of having a tour and inspiring people with my experiences and my music has always been my ultimate goal.

I think that social media is not something that holds you back from that. I think it’s a huge platform for you to be discovered. If it wasn’t for YouTube I honestly don’t know if I’d be where I am today. Social media is a great way for you to express yourself and share your talents.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
Who am I listening to? I’m always listening to Michael Jackson, Celine Dion. I listen to Drake. Who else am I listening to? Fetty Wap. I’m obsessed with “Trap Queen.” That song is my life.

When did you become a fan? Let us know in the comments below.

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