INTERVIEW: Jamie Sierota gives insight into new project, Meija

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Photo Credit: Ana Sierota

Jamie Sierota is a name you may want to start to familiarize yourself with if you haven’t already…

And if his name does ring the slightest bell, you may recognize Sierota from his time playing with Echosmith to his lesser-known (but still just a relevant) experiences with songwriting and producing tracks with names like Adam Lambert, Bay Ledges and Quinn XCII. But in either case, there’s no doubt you’ve heard at least one song that he has helped with.

The singer definitely has a storied career and while he hasn’t been in the spotlight in a few years, these past couples of months have changed that. This is all thanks to his new project: Meija.

Meija is Sierota’s latest solo project, and it’s been one that has been years in the making. You can read our full interview with the singer below where he discusses his musical journey, his evolution to becoming Meija and fans’ responses to the project.

You’ve certainly had a storied career and for those who may only know you from these few songs under the Meija name, could you give me a little background on what you were doing before this solo project came to fruition? 

My main professional start was with Echosmith. I did that pretty young, I was like 18 when we first got signed and started doing the whole touring and playing shows and all that kind of thing. So yeah, I did that for a few years and toured around a bunch. It kind of got to a point where we were doing so much touring, so much playing out, where I wasn’t home for like three years straight and hadn’t written a song in probably two years. For me, my favorite part of music was always being able to be in a studio and experiment with writing. And I feel like too much to say to just be on the road and do the same thing for years on end. So it kind of hit a point where I hadn’t written a song in a long time. You know, it was obviously going really well with Echosmith and I kind of made the decision for myself creatively that I needed to do something else and needed to move on to different things.

And with that fresh slate leaving Echosmith, how did you choose what was your next moves? 

I made that decision now like four years ago. I jumped into it always kind of having an idea of a solo project or whatever this project will end up being in the back of my mind. I had just come off the road, so [I wanted to] dive in and try other things because I spent the past four years writing and producing for other artists and just kind of doing that, but always coming back to this solo project and seeing what that would look like…there’s been a few different versions of it throughout the years.

Last fall when I had this batch of songs that were mostly finished and I started recording them, the Meija project started to actually take shape and become a thing. Obviously I’m still writing and producing for everything, but it’s been cool to kind of let it do its own thing and take its time to really figure out what I wanted it to be like. And then, after a few years of toying with different things and trying different things, I’ve come out with this batch of songs while also, you know, always working on other things.

With the Meija project now starting to take shape, how has it been for you to write songs just for your own personal projects? 

It’s really been cool because I’ve always loved collaboration. I love working on other people’s projects and it’s been really exciting to do that; especially coming from one band for so long. When I’m in the room with other people, I’m [focused on what] they want me to do and what they need to say, which I love to do. And I love helping artists do that, but it’s been really cool for this project to say whatever I want.

There are no labels to please and there’s no manager I have to get the thumbs up from before they approve me to do the song or anything; I was able to try whatever I wanted. I didn’t just come from a place of a lot more experimentation; [I wanted to] keep it as simple as I wanted it to be while also trying as many things as I wanted.

And with the release of the new songs, how has the response been from new and old fans alike? 

I haven’t been in Echosmith now for four years and it’s been longer since I’ve released anything with Echosmith so I think there was a certain amount of fans that stuck around who were like, you know, excited to hear more things. So it’s been cool to finally have that out there because I have been working on it for a while. [Then, there’s] fans from other projects and other things that I’ve worked on that are going to find about it too. It’s been cool to see all these new people who have no idea about what I’ve done in the past and they just know about Meija from maybe heard it by a playlist or just reaching out ‘like, hey, love this song.’ That hasn’t been the focus the last few months, but it’s been cool to see.

And on that note, with songs being released and people either still being new to Meija or familiar with your past work, how would you best describe the music that’s going to come from Meija? 

That’s a tough question. I mean doing it has always been very indie coming from that perspective. I was actually talking to a friend recently about my stuff and a lot of the stuff I’m producing is kind of all over the place. It’s weird anti-pop. I’m just like trying to do something different and roll with it. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do and I know how to do and I always like to try and push the boundary with things. With the Meija project, it’s always better for people to hear and see what they think about it. But I’m just trying to do something different because it’s just myself and I’m doing it independently right now, so I’m able to kind of like try and push boundaries and see what comes out of it.

I know this is a new project, but how would you say this project (or even you yourself) has evolved since this started? 

As far as creatively, there’s been a few different versions of Meija over the years of different things I’ve tried that felt cool. And then now, it feels like the most like true to myself right now where I’m at. So creatively, it feels really good. It’s been a long time, honestly, since I’ve put out any music that’s my own name on it and this is the first time really putting up stuff that’s like just me. It’s always a little nerve-wracking at first because it’s a new thing and I haven’t done that. I’ve been like behind the scenes so it’s definitely been a new experience. But again, it’s been really encouraging to see the response that people have been really enjoying it cause you work on these songs and they’re really personal to you and you like them. And then you put it out into the world and there are a million things happening all the time. So it is cool that people are taking time out of the day to like listen to it or reach out or share.

With this project, do you have any plans on actually taking these songs on the road? 

I really loved touring and being able to travel. I think things have changed a lot recently with the Internet and how people have been putting music out lot faster. The whole put out a record and tour for two or three years doesn’t really happen anymore. I think that was actually a funny encouragement for me [with] my solo thing cause all these other artists I’m working with aren’t doing what I did. I think as I put out the EP and things seem to be growing, I definitely want to take it on the road and bring it to more people and get my road trip on again.

Last but not least, what’s next for Meija? 

I would love to eventually have a bigger album project. I think at this point is just getting it started. I’ve been putting out the singles and then the plan [is that] I have an EP coming later in the fall that’ll have the songs that are out and then few that are coming out soon. So that’s the immediate plan…It’s all very independent so I’m able to be nimble and roll with it with whatever feels best, which is like a nice.