Mia Gladstone has a confession: She’s in love. Not with a specific person, but with the very act of life and living—and she’s dedicated to spreading that feeling: “Everything I do is fueled by love,” says the multi-hyphenate musician, who just dropped a new single called “Baby Don’t Worry.” “I want people to feel empowered and happy when they listen to it. It’s not that all of my songs are happy, but I want people to to connect with the realness with which I write and relate to it. Love is electric. It’s about spreading energy—good vibes only.”
Here’s what else you should know about Gladstone: She’s not here for your approval. Just one scroll through her Instagram page, and that much is clear. Along with a passion for glitter and psychedelia, the 19-year-old upstart is outspoken on the subject of nudity censorship—and you’ll see a lot of naked pictures on her feed. “I’ve struggled a lot with my body growing up,” she admits. “I’ve always felt really uncomfortable about having big boobs and being deemed as ‘sexy,’ so I decided to counteract my insecurities and ‘own it.’ I don’t want to apologize for who I am, so what you see is me. I’m not asking for validation, I’m not trying to be overtly sexual, but I do hope that I am promoting body positivity.”
Ahead of the release of her debut EP in June, we caught up with Gladstone to talk getting her start in the industry, recording with Lana Del Rey’s producer, handling haters on social media, and more.
Growing up, what kind of music influenced you?
“It’s kind of corny, but my parents always say that I was singing before I could walk—music has always been my thing. Initially, I loved classic rock because of my dad, but then I got really into Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and Nirvana. Then my mom discovered Kanye West, and I fell in love with hip-hop. The first song I wrote was for a talent show at school in New Jersey when I was in second grade. I was lucky in the sense that I knew that music was what I wanted to do from a really early age.”
How did you go about making it a professional career?
“While I was in high school, I started reaching out to people on the internet. I found this dude, Alex [of The Kickdrums], who produced one of my favorite songs, called “Ridin’” by Lana Del Ray and A$AP Rocky. I emailed him when I maybe 15 and was like ‘Hey, I love your music and I really want this vibe.’ Then we started working together as a production duo and eventually made a bunch of tracks, including ‘Baby Don’t Worry,’ which I just released. It’s been such a long time coming, but I’m so happy I finally get to share it.”
Were your parents cool with you not going to college?
“They’ve always been super supportive. I actually graduated a semester early so I could pursue music and be in the studio full-time. Then I went to do this program in Ohio so that I’d be more self-sufficient in terms of mixing and production. I released my first song while I was there—it got hella plays on SoundCloud and my life completely changed in an instant.”
That’s a lot for a young teen to navigate alone. Did you have any guidance?
“It was really hard. Suddenly, I had all of these people trying to manage me, and I had no idea how the whole process worked. I was super overwhelmed. It ended up taking two years to build a team and release the rest of the songs, but here we are. I’ve learned a lot about myself throughout this period, so I don’t regret anything.”
How would you describe your creative process?
“I’m inspired by intense feelings, which means I can draw ideas from anything, really. Colors inspire me a lot. For example, my basement is my music room and it’s painted completely pink, including the ceiling. My hair is pink, too—although I think I might want to dye it pastel green soon-ish.”
Aside from music, you’re passionate about cruelty-free living. Have you always been vegan?
“I’m vegan because I love animals. I love plants too, but animals are different. I feel fresher and healthier when I’m not eating meat. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 10 and vegan for the last few years. Being vegan just makes me happy. It’s kind of like the feeling of being in love all the time—it’s amazing. I don’t look at meat as food at all. Once you see what happens in the meat industry, you can’t unsee it.”
What does the term ‘body positive’ mean to you?
“I say that I’m fluid because I don’t have a specific style—I’ll wear whatever I’m feeling that day. I love baggy clothes, but I also make a point of being free and feeling the breeze when I want to. It’s bad that personal choices like that can be deemed as dangerous in our society. I shouldn’t feel unsafe because people want to objectify me. All of elementary school I identified as a boy, but then I started developing physically as a woman really early. It was hard because I didn’t feel like a girl, but everyone was sexualizing me. Now I say: This is me. People call it body positive, which I like, but I’m really just not concealing anything.”
Do you ever get any backlash on social media?
“Tons. There is a mixture of people sexualizing me and then hating me for posting something they don’t like, like my armpit hair, on Instagram. It doesn’t really affect me though, so I don’t indulge it. But it does affect me when people shout out and leave supportive comments on my feed. The best compliment I can get is someone saying I look powerful or inspiring. It’s funny because I can be shy in person, but the process of understanding my gender has made me more comfortable. It feels like I’m finally understand my own narrative.”