A spirit of hope is cradled in the melancholic music of Mitski. Her soft, quiet hums evolve into unfiltered yells in mere moments, leaving the audience clutching onto each note as well as the intensity of each word. Her performance transcends physical space into the crowd’s emotional sphere. Rolling Stones describes her music as “A slow-building breakthrough at an indie-rock therapy session,” implying that the link between her output of experiences, and the feeling they invoke in others is undeniable. The crowd surrounding her performance in Boston, Massachusetts on November 1 engulfs one another in a dizzying collective of sadness and warmth. The person behind the performance is twenty-six year old Mitski Miyawaki, who carries her womanhood and Japanese-American lineage with hardened grace. This outlook appears transformed by her experiences, as her life has developed in an abundance of locations, with homes in countries surrounding the world. She received her high school diploma ahead of schedule in Turkey and went on to graduate from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music only a few years ago. In the time since her higher education, she has proceeded to take tunes to an unprecedented level.
Mitski’s most popular song on Spotify, Your Best American Girl, has over two million listens and the sociopolitical impact of her words rings with each note, “Your mother wouldn't approve of how my mother raised me / But I do, I finally do / And you're an all-American boy / I guess I couldn't help trying to be the best American girl.” A prominent Boston-based poet, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, tweeted after Mitski’s show “s/o 2 all the kids of color @ the @mitskileaks show pointing 2 their chests & singing/screaming ‘but i do, i finally do.’”
The impact of Mitski travels even further beyond relatably beautiful expressions of anguish, as she contemplates intimate issues within her lyrics. She is somehow able to keep herself vulnerable in her art, yet distant from receiving too much attention to her personal life in the public eye. After being featured on a variety of popular outlets, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she has mastered the ability to share and grow with an audience while not giving all of herself away to strangers. It is apparent that she carefully crafts her boundaries between performer and person, while still fostering a safe space to learn and grow in the community she impacts.
Photo by: Sara Barber