I feel I have room to grow – that attracts me.” Russian pop star now in America
Miraya Shark is not only a singer but also a shining example of not being afraid to follow your heart. Miraya was born in a small Moldavian town called Tiraspol, lived for some time in Odesa in Ukraine, and then went to conquer Moscow on her own. For many years, Miraya has been one of the top 10 Russian pop singers, who are called the most successful on the modern stage. She has 11 million views of her music video on YouTube, many thousands of downloads of her tracks and reposts, and was named the most stylish singer in Russia by the jury of the Hello award in 2016. After gaining popularity in Russia, the star developed her career in America. We talked to the singer about her career path and plans for the near future.
Miraya, when did you realise you wanted to dedicate your life to singing?
As a child, I had two major passions – music and athletics. I left athletics as a candidate for a master of sports in athletics, and I pursued music instead. My life consisted of continuous training, competitions, and performances. Later, I graduated from a music school as a piano teacher and entered a higher music school. As a teenager, I realised that a career as a professional singer was what I wanted and would continue to do.
You were one of the soloists in a successful Russian band, and at the peak of your popularity, you went into free flight. How did you decide to take such a step?
The decision was easy. Participating in the band “Propaganda” was an invaluable experience, the first step into the world of real pop. I came to Moscow as a girl without any money or connections, went through an incredible number of castings, and got into one of the most famous musical groups of that time. But I knew I would only stay there briefly – I wanted to realise my musical ideas. And “Propaganda” had its concept, which presupposed a specific performance style. I had to adjust, that’s a normal thing for a band. I decided to leave the group when I felt ready to move on. We parted amicably on a friendly note. The producer was very understanding, and I did my part of the already planned performance, not to let the team down, and then I left. A whole new world opened up, a complicated but fulfilling one, and I have never regretted my decision.
What did you have to face?
Working in the band-limited my creative initiatives, but it had its advantages – all the issues concerning the promotion of the musical project, organisation of concerts, recording of albums, and interviews – all that was taken care of by the producer. When you work alone, you have a million things to do alone. Without that kind of experience, it was hard for me to cope with it at first. It took a while before I got my team together and debugged all the processes. The other challenge I faced was my image and style of execution. The ideas I had in my head were complicated to put together. I spent a long time looking for my niche, trying different things, and listening to myself – what resonated more, and what resonated less. I paid attention to the audience feedback I received since “Propaganda”.
You have an unusual timbre. It’s different from everyone else. What would you call your performance style?
The thing is, many artists can be compared to others, but I hope that I only remind you a little bit of anyone. Developing a unique style is the goal of every artist who doesn’t want to be like anyone else and wants to be recognized. If I have some recognizability, even if it is small, then my goal has been achieved. This work on myself can take a very long time. Although my work is exclusive, it is still developing in this direction. Finding my style and “how to perform” is a long but exciting process for each song.
You have set the trend of popularising digital music creation. Tell us about your application. How was the project born?
The idea came during the Covid-19 pandemic when all concert activity was banned. Like many other artists, I went online, performed my songs, and interacted with fans on social networks. During the lockdown, I missed the energy that comes with live shows when the audience sings your favourite songs with you. That’s when I had my first thoughts about a particular app. I became enthusiastic about the idea and started conducting research through surveys and communicating with subscribers on social networks. My audience was also interested in this interaction format. Together with the development team, we thought about the finished product’s functionality. In addition to karaoke with my songs and ringtones, we launched a unique music simulator through which anyone can playfully develop their musical ear and learn to hit the notes.
Are you happy with the result? How did the audience receive your product?
On the one hand, I was confident of success because I put all my musical experience into the app’s content. On the other hand, I did not expect such broad resonance. The product was developed based on my discography, taking into account the needs of my audience, but it turned out to be interesting to many people. On social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, our application was downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people, and the coverage grew daily. Even the foreign audience appreciated it, and downloads were recorded in many countries. Thus my art found new fans worldwide, which makes me very happy.
Now that you are inside the music industry in America, what are your impressions?
America is a country of boundless possibilities and a trendsetter in music. What American artists are doing reaches the Russian stage after a few years. I take a great interest in what is happening around me, and I have room to grow – that’s what attracts me. But I also have something to offer the American music market – my experience in developing a complete application, especially a music simulator algorithm, which has already attracted the interest of American pop stars. We are now in negotiations with JT Money and Trina Star about creating new digital music products based on our designs. It will be an app for fans of rap music, many of whom are in America. The app will help them rap with their favourite artists and learn how to keep the rhythm and tempo to hit the beat like real rappers. I’m interested in doing this project, putting my experience into a different genre, and helping established American artists expand their audiences. Almost all business areas now have their applications, and to keep up with the times and not lose the young online audience, performers are also actively moving in this direction.
What are your plans for the next year?
I plan to continue singing. I’m still working on my new album. With the help of social networks and my app, I stay in touch with my fans in Russia. I am still at the conceptual stage of building a picture of my musical career in America. I hope that as soon as I get an official work permit in the US, I can realise everything and continue my concert activities here.