MIIV is a nonbinary visual artist and musician. Their debut EP “Umbra” is a surrealist body of shadow work that explores fantasy, dream-space, identity, and emotion.
The artist gathered inspiration for the EP from a variety of unique sources that include the work of Islandic singer-songwriter Bjork, anime movies and tv shows, their dreams, and the creative peers that surround them in everyday life.
“I am always up-in-the-clouds dreaming, day-dreaming, doodling. When I sleep I have really vivid dreams. When I wake up I write down the things that I see or the people that I meet in my dreams. I am a believer in magic. There is so much in life that is magical and I feel that life is too short to not want to uncover these mundane, beautiful, and arcane things that make up this world. I have always loved fantasy as a kid so I think it is something that comes natural to me.”
MIIV has always been interested in visuals. They began their creative career working with 2D visual art before moving to poetry and eventually songwriting. This affinity for visual ephemera seeps into their songwriting in ways that include acting as art director for their music videos, gathering inspiration and processing ideas through drawing, and associating songs with different colors (MIIV views “Umbra'' as purples, blues, and oranges).
“I like that I can build these worlds and put music underneath it to tie it all together. It has always been visual before audio. It is super hard for me to explain how I am feeling in concrete words. I always end up writing poetry or drawing, that is my first outlet to figuring out what the hell is going on.”
This creative approach is evident in “Umbra” as it works to bridge fantasy and dream space with the very real internal struggle of gender identity. Inspired greatly by the messy emotions and shifts that came with the artist’s experience with gender dysphoria, the EP uses music as both a form of escapism and as a tool to process their complicated feelings.
“At first I didn’t want to be in the real world, I didn’t want to be a person. I was dreaming of these places where I could exist fully as myself. I think a lot of that has to do with coming from a white suburbia and having to exist as this visible other for most of my life. I think now being in a new space and having people around me who are very much themselves has led to this magic of seeing life in the most beautiful way.”
In terms of how people experience the work, MIIV is open to hearing about and understanding the different reactions and associations listeners will have to the EP.
“Whatever people feel, that is theirs. A lot of the time it is just me having a conversation with myself. I never create music with the intention of wanting people to feel something specific. For me, the biggest thing about creating is sharing part of myself and how I view the world. Everything is always personal for me, I can’t take myself out of the things I am creating. Yet everyone brings their own experiences to the art that they consume. For me, it is interesting to hear what people take away from the work. It can help inform what I meant while making it or even give me something to explore next time.”
Words by Riley Gunderson
Styling/Creative Concept by Cyrus Gainer