Japanese-American singer-songwriter

Mitski Miyawaki (born Mitsuki Laycock; September 27, 1990) is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter.

Mitski in 2019




  • “In tenth grade—this says a lot about how developmentally delayed I was—I had in my mind that it was the proper thing for me to have a love interest. And you’d see in movies where two characters instantly see each other and are, like, I’m in love!, and then it just cuts to them on a date or interacting...A lot of my adolescence was like that. Me thinking I was doing the right thing by re-creating a movie scene that I’d seen but then realizing that’s not how it happens in real life.”
  • “When people looked at me they couldn’t recognize any of the history of me, like, ‘Where is she from? What’s her ethnicity? Who is she?’ I just didn’t make sense to anybody.”

Music and songwriting

  • “By the time it was done my heart was pounding like I just saw the rest of my life. I was fucking doomed.”
  • “I’ve always grown up feeling lonely or other, but through my music, I can be like: ‘Look, we’re the same, we’ve felt the same thing, so we’re not so different. I belong here.’ It’s almost like a hungry monster that’s just a constant need to feel connection.”
  • “I was always bothered when people say, ‘I cry to your music, it sounds like a diary, it sounds so personal,’…Yes, it is personal. But that’s so gendered. There’s no feeling of, ‘Oh, maybe she’s a songwriter and she wrote this as a piece of art.’”
  • “I write personal stories about relationships, and living in this world and being a human being…but I happen to live in a world which views me as an Asian American. So my experiences are tainted by that, even if I’m not conscious of it. Someone said ‘the personal is political’, where it seems like me just being honest about my experiences as a human being and as a person translates as being political about being an Asian American person. I’m not in this to be political or a social activist, it just happens that my being honest is a very political thing.”
  • “I like to say something in as little time as possible…I don’t think I have the fundamental confidence necessary to write a four-minute meandering song. Number one – because I'm impatient. But number two – because I’ve never been someone who is listened to. No one would stop to listen to me. I'm not a white guy noodling on a guitar for 45 minutes. No one would stay for me. I learned from a young age to be concise because there’s a very small window for me to grab someone's attention.”

Bury Me At Makeout Creek

  • “I’d always been fascinated by death, which sounds so morbid. Especially being a woman trying to make music, I think there’s a sense that you’re never young enough, or your career is going to end soon. So there’s that element of ‘I’m going to die soon.’ Maybe not physically, but I’m going to run out of time very soon. It’s always on my mind. I have to do things now.
  • “Even when I’m in a scene I don’t think of myself as being in the scene. I’m very conscious of myself being an outsider. I think that has to do with my upbringing outside of the US – not just my heritage but that I grew up differently. I moved to a different country every year or every other year…a lot of different places due to my father’s occupation.”

Puberty 2.0

  • “…this song is quite autobiographical because I didn't grow up in the U.S. I am half Japanese, and it came from wanting to just fit into this very American person's life and simply not being able to. Just fundamentally being from a different place and feeling like I would just get in the way of their progression if their life, because I could just never get to wherever they're naturally going.”
  • “You always want what you can’t have, and that all-American thing, from the day I was born, I could never enter that dream. That all-American white culture is something that is inherited instead of attained. So yes, it’s a sad song, but I wanted to make sure it reflected all of the contrasting feelings. You can be heartbroken about a relationship, but also, from it, realize you are you and you’re okay with who you are, or where you came from.”
  • "People think I was writing it for a group of people, when actually I was writing about one person. The truth was, I loved this person so much, and us being from different worlds kept getting in the way."

Be the Cowboy

  • “…A lot of the ‘yous’ in my songs are abstract ideas about music...I will neglect everything else, including me as a person, just to get to keep making music…And even if it actually sometimes hurts, it doesn’t matter as long as I get to be a musician.”
  • “It's not like [the album’s protagonist] is a fictional character, but I noticed a personality in me that was very obsessed with control and feeling like I have power — because I am powerless and don't have a lot of control. So I kind of investigated that person in me. What is the exaggerated form? Well, it's a woman who's incredibly controlled, severe, and austere. But maybe there's some kind of deep desire or emotion that's whirling around in her and trying to get out. Maybe she's losing control.”
  • “I think it's a very feminine album…There can be something incredibly violent about being a woman and having desires as a woman – not so nice, not so soft. And I think that's an interesting experience to draw on…"
  • “The phrase ‘Be the cowboy you want to see in the world’ has been an inside joke between me and myself…I would always kind of say it to myself in situations where I feel like I’m sort of trapped in my own mind. Like, ‘Oh, what would a swaggering, western movie cowboy do in this situation?’”
  • "I think the theme that I unfortunately saw—unfortunately for me—was the theme of loneliness or the idea of being alone…And the idea of being alone, not because the world is forcing you to be alone but because you are the person causing your aloneness…”
  • "I think there is in my previous albums a very useful romanticization or glorification of a sadness...wherein Be the Cowboy, there's a realization that no one gives a shit that you're sad, and you're still sad. Your sadness is no longer profound, and you're still sad. It's that kind of growing up and realizing that it's not cool anymore to be sad, but you're still sad."
  • “It was right around Christmas… and it was kind of too expensive for me to try to fly back from Australia to the U.S. on holiday prices, so I just decided to stay in that side of the world. I went to Malaysia instead…I thought it would be a great vacation, but I went alone, and I went during the holidays when everyone else is spending time with their families, and so, long story short, I ended up feeling incredibly, devastatingly alone… I think of myself as, you know, a very solitary, kind of introverted person, so I didn’t plan for loneliness, and then it just happened and I didn’t know what to do about it. So I wrote a song.”
  • “…it was actually about when you have some kind of toxic relationship to yourself, or to another person, for so long that it becomes your identity. Even when you don't need it anymore and you've stepped away from it, you still hold on to it because it's scary to let it go — because if you actually let it go, it feels like erasing yourself. That song is about likening that sort of toxicity to a pearl.”

Laurel Hell

  • I wouldn’t say it’s an alter ego, but I have anxiety around social situations, and I don’t like going to parties…As a performer, onstage I know my place. I’m sure of myself. There’s no doubt. It’s just existing, and it’s so lovely to get to be for an hour.
  • I felt it was shaving away my soul little by little…The music industry is this supersaturated version of consumerism. You are the product being consumed, bought, and sold. Even the people on your team who are your friends, the very foundation of your dynamic is that they get a percentage of your income. Every time I turned something down, it would mean that they would make less money.
  • I’ve often found myself in a situation where, narratively speaking, I’m the bad guy,” she says. “We can acknowledge more than just black and white. If you present something that feels true to you, there will be other people who are like, ‘This is true to me too.’
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