By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Singer/songwriter Mila J. just dropped the 9th installment of her yearlong EP series titled “September 2018.” Stream the entire EP on all platforms here.
“September 2018” is part of a twelve series EP release project and the music capture a year’s worth of the highs and lows of a relationship.
Born in the heart of Los Angeles, the singer-songwriter (and now actor) delivers nothing but smooth, laid-back R&B, full of love, emotion, and heartbreak.
AllHipHop caught up with Mila J to discuss going independent, dating in the industry, and new roles in acting.
Btw, she’s Jhene Aiko’s older sister, and good genes definitely run in the family.
AllHipHop: How has your sound evolved over the years?
Mila J: I definitely matured vocally. Before, the only people that knew that I sang was my family. I didn’t really publically sing. I was like, “I’ll rap for you, but I’m not singing.” I think every time, every single session, every time somebody made me be like, “No, you’re doing the verse,” it just helped me be way more confident vocally, to where I’m not shy. I can hear myself or listen to myself, and it’s not weird.
AllHipHop: What happened with the label?
Mila J: Basically, when I was in the groups and still signed to Motown, I ran into the same things a lot of the other artists ran into. It’s like, “Okay, you hurry up and wait.”
You’re recording, you’re in all these sessions, but nothing is ever being released. You’re not allowed to release. You can maybe put something on SoundCloud… that whole issue, I went through another drought of music not being able to be released. I went independent after that.
Everyone was always like, “Yo, I see you working on the album, how come we don’t get any music?” I decided I just needed to put music out. I was like, “I’m about to give ya’ll music, and I’m going to give it to you every month.”
AllHipHop: On “Business and Pleasure,” you talk about meeting someone in the studio. Talk about being a female in the industry and some of the obstacles you face?
Mila J: For sure, that people don’t take you serious. On top of that, when you do have to be stern or put your foot down, you have to worry about being called a “b##ch” or “she’s a diva” — which we shouldn’t have to worry about. When you see men literally having the same behavior as you.
Not even being disrespectful, just being stern, knowing what you want and not taking no s##t. But I am a person who cares what people think about me. I don’t want people walking around thinking I’m a b##ch or a diva.
For me, it always is that battle because I know for some people, it’s like, “Well I don’t care, yup, label me that.” I don’t want you to label me that, but I’m still going to probably act the same way and be stern and have an opinion.
AllHipHop: Where do you get that from?
Mila J: I came from a family of all strong women who speak their mind. As far as that part goes, it’s always been natural for me to be comfortable being stern because I was supported like that in the house. I didn’t come from, “Mila, be quiet.” It was like, “No, speak your mind no matter what.” But that obstacle of not being taken serious and people feeling like “who are you” or “are you the girlfriend?” You spoke to every man in the room but you thinking I’m just sitting here just as a… things like that.
Other than that, everything else is how you carry yourself is how you’ll get treated. I haven’t really come across a lot disrespect, as far as people feeling like they can do certain things, because I don’t come in with that energy.
AllHipHop: Is it okay to date in the industry?
Mila J: The heart wants it wants. I definitely would say it’s not a preference, but it can happen. Wherever you work anywhere, you’re taking a chance. I don’t care if you work at a call center. If you’re dating somebody that you’re seeing every day and then it goes wrong, it’s hard s##t. Ya’ll got to see each other. Any industry you’re in, it’s a small world. It’s not just music.
If ya’ll are working at a college, if ya’ll are working at a hospital, you see the drama on Grey’s Anatomy! You’re going to take a chance if you’re dating someone within what you do because if it doesn’t go well, it’s harder to remove the situation.
AllHipHop: What are some goals for yourself as an artist?
Mila J: Selling out tours! I love traveling. Connecting the people in whatever form. I also don’t see myself just staying in music. I got my feet wet in acting and that whole world, I really love a lot. I love the consistency. I love that lunch is scheduled. I love that you’re protected by a union! And then you just get to be different people. It’s a new world. I’m not this thespian or what not, but I really do like it and see myself getting a lot more into that.
AllHipHop: What gigs do you have coming up?
Mila J: I shot a film tentatively called “The Trap,” with T.I., Mike Epps, Lil Duval, DC Young Fly, Teyana Taylor — she’s really funny in it. They’re all funny. It’s a super dope comedy. Then I did another musical film called Howard High. I don’t know when both of those are coming out, but I’m acting in those. That was fun.