In 2016, the Los Angeles-based producer Mija went on a tour that felt like a summation of all the work she'd made in her years as a young raver. She went across the States, making stops in dance music hubs, enlisting both local legends and longtime pals to throw parties that ignored the traditional boundaries of scene and style. She played with fleet-fingered footwork DJs in Chicago, Jersey Club producers in Texas, and loopy experimentalists in Arizona. She called it, simply and endearingly "FK a Genre."
That's sorta been the approach of her own tracks and DJ sets over the last few years too. She'll crib synth blitzes from high energy trance and happy hardcore, as well as the playful dynamics of the LA EDM scene she operates on the outskirts of, but she's also been known to play nail-biting techno sets and post-rock ambience too. Basically she's created this gleeful little world where she's capable of doing whatever she wants—fuck a genre indeed.
Today, she's shared a new single called "Bad For U" and, in keeping with her tradition of hard left turns, it's basically like little else she's released to date. The track—which comes in advance of an EP called How to Measure the Distance Between Lovers—first came about when she encountered a song of the same name by the Portland songwriter Kelli Schaefer, and "felt a deep, personal connection to the song." She reached out and decided to rejigger the song's instrumental, transforming it from an ambient ballad into a low-lit trip hop swoon.
Schaefer's lyrics are an us-against-the-world sort of thing, singing about the ways that the shitty state of affairs can bind people together. It's about taking shelter from the world outside with someone you love, and Mija's new beat casts an eerie cyberpunk neon over the whole production, echoing the both the tenderness and uncertainty of the track's themes. It could easily be the soundtrack to an anime set after the robots have already won, but there's still people hanging on trying to make the best of it. Which is all to say, it's great, and also it's miles away from anything else she's done—and a fulfillment of her promise in VICE Magazine's recent music issue that the stuff she's working on now "isn't even dance music."
The EP doesn't have an exact release date yet—word is it'll come sometime next year—but Mija's genre-agnostic approach means it promises to be something special.
"This EP is a collection of songs that I've written to my past/present/future lovers, and flows chronologically through a timeline," Mija wrote in an email. "I wrote them so I could find myself, finish this chapter of my life, and set the rest on fire."