Artist Spotlight: Miu Haiti on Her Second Album and Choosing to Be A Unicorn

By: Ella Okunmwendia
01/27/2024
en
Miu Haiti
Thumbnail courtesy of Hilton Auguste.

It’s a new year, and EnVi has exciting content for you to discover in 2024! This January, we are spotlighting emerging talent from all across the Asian diaspora and beyond. From fresh music releases to silver screen debuts, check out some of our new favorite up-and-coming creatives to keep an eye on. 


“I have never really felt like I fit in,” Miu Haiti told EnVi via email shortly after the release of her sophomore album, Unphased. Born Murielle Augustin, she has made a name for herself as a multilingual genre-bending artist. Her music encompasses soulful ballads, fun pop anthems, and hard-hitting hip-hop sung in English, Creole, French, and Spanish. For Emerging Talent Month, let us dive into the Haitian singer’s childhood, artistry, and newest album Unphased, released on December 15, 2023.

Battle of the Artistic Genes

“I remember him being often absent,” Miu Haiti said of her father, a renowned saxophonist who has played in several konpa (modern Haitian dance music) veteran bands. Despite spending less time with him, Haiti recalled “being on good terms whenever he was around.” She also described her dad as “fun” and “a showman.” When asked for her fondest memories of him, Miu Haiti recounted an event from when she was five. “He took me on a stroll in the neighborhood and was making up a song as we walked.” Continuing her story, she said, “He started teaching me; I picked it up quickly, and there I was singing along.” To her, that moment was her first songwriting lesson and promised to finish the song they composed that day. 

In addition to inheriting music genes, Miu has a soft spot for fashion, courtesy of her mother, a seamstress. Just as Miu Haiti’s love of music began at a young age, so did her love of fashion. At seven, she made clothes for her dolls and modeled for a prominent fashion house in Haiti while in high school. Although Miu Haiti recognized her innate musical talents, at the time, she focused on various creative activities except music. She loved drawing, reading, and poetry and participated in school drama and dance activities as a child. In her teenage years, she earned a spot in the school cheerleading squad. 

In a turn of events, while working in the fashion house, Miu Haiti got the opportunity to hang around young artists and experience the lifestyle of a musician. “I realized then that making music was my purpose,” she noted. That said, despite having ventured into music for over 15 years, Miu Haiti still has “a love affair with fashion.” “It is part of everything I do,” she explained. “I carefully craft, style, or makeover every look that supports my visuals. When it comes to my image, fashion is the continuation of the storytelling I start with my music.”

The Emergence of Miu Haiti, the Singer

After discovering her love for music, Miu Haiti participated in the Soley Sounds System contest in 2006. With the stage name Miu, she co-wrote her first single, “Hot Boy,” a dancehall track. She gained the respect of industry professionals who found her work ethic remarkable despite her lack of experience in a recording studio. Miu also earned the admiration of fans, leading her to emerge as a top ten finalist. 

Miu Haiti’s musical journey had a promising kick-off, with performances on notable live shows such as Musique en Folie. In 2008, her debut single, “Hot Boy,” topped the Soundclick Dancehall charts, earning her her inaugural chart-topping success. That same year, she took part in the “Step in the Ring” contest hosted by ourstage.com. The competition involved recording verses for “Everybody Else,” featuring American singer T-Pain on the chorus. Miu Haiti to have composed and recorded three verses in three days. Although she did not win the competition, she describes the experience as “a memory she will always cherish.” “The fact I got to be on the same track as him is still unreal,” she told EnVi.

Despite having a great career start in her home country, Miu Haiti felt she could not reach her full potential. “The media here are strongly promoting the foreign artists, ignoring the Haitians, who are doing great music,” she said in a previous interview. She also revealed at the time that musicians barely saw the importance of being a full-time musician and were considered the “failures” of their families. The mindset in her hometown pushed her to relocate to the United States in 2018. 

Artistry Brewed in Diversity

Growing up in Haiti, Miu immersed herself in different music genres, including the indigenous konpa. Her musical scope entailed reggae, ballad, R&B, hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll, opera, folk, and Latin music. 

Throughout her career, Miu Haiti has explored the genres she enjoyed when she was younger. For “Hot Boy,” she delved into dancehall. She described the English mid-tempo song as an anthem for a hot girl looking for a hot boy. For her next release, she dropped “Hey! (Hot Boy II),” a pop rendition and sequel to her first single. It featured guest verses from French-speaking artist Note. Miu Haiti also demonstrated her reggae influences in the French track “Sous le Soleil.” Considered one of her best vocal performances, it peaked at #10 on the Soundclick charts in 2011.

She tapped into her love for Latin music when she collaborated with Puerto Rican artist QSC on the reggaeton record “They Didnt Believe.” On her debut album Unexpected, she further highlighted her love for Latin music on the Spanish tracks “Playa (Ayayay!)” and “Olvides.” While “Playa (Ayayay!)” is additional evidence of her love for reggaeton, “Olvides” leans towards EDM. From an early stage in her career, Miu Haiti had a soft spot for pop and R&B. Notable among such are “TANN,” “Baby Boo,” and “They Say.” Miu’s hip-hop persona also makes an appearance in the songs “Fame,” “Se Pa Premye Fwa (Eh! Yo!),” and “Banm Ma Baw.”

Miu Haiti’s sound evolved after she moved to the United States in 2018. In 2019, she teamed up with The Sunset Kings, a rock indie band, on the record “Come By.” The tune is a soulful fusion of jazz and indie rock, with a distinct inclusion of saxophone and violin in the instrumental solos. Besides predominantly singing in English, Miu Haiti began to lean towards pop, hip-hop, and R&B for most of her releases in the US.

Embracing Creative Liberty

Miu Haiti
Photo courtesy of Hilton Auguste.

When asked about her 2023 achievement, Miu Haiti replied, “For me, it is undoubtedly the release of my new album, Unphased. I have been working towards that for a while, and I feel lighter now that it is out in the world,” she shared. Miu got the inspiration for the eight-track album in 2020. She described it as the result of a “deep dive” into a place she had avoided in introspection.

An ode to love, empowerment, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Unphased reflects Miu’s current stage of life. “I went deeper than usual, writing about personal experiences that shocked and shaped me,” she noted. It was the first project for which she gained control over the creative process, thanks to her management, Purfek Storm Group. “I got to create in a recording studio for the first time without being time-constrained,” she stated, voicing gratitude to her label. 

Diving into the recording process, she remarked, “I got to create on the spot, start from scratch, and watch the song take form, then get the instant satisfaction of listening to the final product right away.” As a series of firsts for Miu, she delved into beat production, describing the process as opening up another world to her. Feeling excited about that milestone, she added, “Now I can bring to life the instruments that I hear in my head.”

Among the eight songs, “If I Call,” “Real Ones,” and “Filon” are self-produced records. Particularly, “If I Call” stands out as Miu’s favorite from the project because it was emotionally the most challenging to write. She also dreads performing the guitar-led, soulful indie pop song live, as she would have to relive the heartbreak. “I have trouble accepting people dear to my heart leaving my life,” she confided. Miu revealed that “If I Call” started without words. “It was just a guitar riff that I played repeatedly, feeling that tightness in my chest,” she explained. After continuously playing the guitar, she mumbled the first line, “Would you pick up your phone if I call?” and completed the song 15 minutes later.

Miu Haiti experienced a shift in mood for “Real Ones,” with a focus on maintaining a tight-knit circle. She crafted it to become “the friendship anthem.” “I started ‘Real Ones’ with the drums, then added keys because it felt like something you would play in your living room to hype up your friends.” The desire to convey said feeling inspired the lyrics to this fan favorite, as revealed in her press release. On “Filon,” the last self-produced track, Miu taps into her roots and performs the song in her native language, Creole. This aligns with insight from her management, explaining the album is a treat for her ardent followers and day-one fans.

Unphased album cover
Photo courtesy of Hilton Auguste.

Miu Haiti also collaborated with various producers to bring the other songs to life. With fellow Purfek Storm mate ESNC, she captures the scene of eyes locking in the club and dancing the night away in “Chocolate Love.” From the passionate haze of “Chocolate Love,” Miu descends to reality in “Is This Love,” questioning post-honeymoon feelings. She relies on the production expertise of Nice Beat, also known as Irwin Charles, for the record. With Bayden at the helm of production for the album’s finale, “Too Late,” Miu Haiti assumed lyricist duties.

Flip It” and “In ‘Em Face” are the other songs on the album that move away from the theme of love. While “Flip It” encourages listeners to find their light and power, “In ‘Em Face” is all about having a lot of bravado. EnVi also got curious about Miu’s thought process when selecting the final songs. “Challenging. I chose a storyline that will continue with the next record. If Unphased is the introduction, the next record will be the rise of action,” she said.

Reinventing Miu Haiti

Throughout her career, Miu has grappled with being perceived as too different due to the nature of her music and the languages she sings in. Now at peace with herself, she explained that she has given up on fitting in. “There can be dissimilarity between how you see yourself and how others perceive you; I’m cool with being the unicorn.” Miu’s decision to embrace her uniqueness is linked to a famous quote from her uncle: “We choose the life we live.” 

With that quote as her motivation, she vowed not to compare other people’s results to hers. “I always remind myself that I will never be comfortable making the choices they make to get those results,” she revealed. As a concluding statement, Miu said, “I’m at peace with my choices; I have zero regrets. I chose this life, and I couldn’t picture it any other way.”

Listen to Unphased on Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms. For updates on Miu Haiti, follow the artist on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.

Want to discover more emerging artists? Check out our Artist Spotlight on JHIN here.