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Rex Yu

Lauren Mia: flow state

At the height of grief, LA-based producer Lauren Mia never imagined her debut LP ‘RE:BIRTH’ would be bubbling in her subconscious — but it turns out the stars had greater plans

Many people will experience three “Saturn Returns” in their lifetime. Unless you’re savvy to natal charts and horoscopic astrology, that sentence is likely a head-scratcher. Well, here’s the gist: Once every few decades, “the planet of temporal wisdom” aka Saturn, revisits the exact point where it rested at the time of a person’s birth. After it shifts into that place in the sky (typically right around the 27th birthday), the ringed-beauty lingers in that longitude for a period of three years. This heavenly occurrence is believed to catalyse profound change.

“They say the first one is the worst, though,” Lauren Mia tells DJ Mag on a video call from her studio in Los Angeles. The classically-trained pianist and producer is camera ready in a black sweater and sleek bun, but it seems we’ve caught her in a moment of surrender. Our subject is recovering from jetlag, plus a stubborn sinus infection that’s pushed the “hardcore Scorpio” to her edge. “This is the first time in four years I’ve had to start taking antibiotics, which is crazy, because I’m so anti-anti-biotic,” she says with a gentle laugh. “But sometimes you’ve just got to do it.”

Ceding to uncontrollable forces is something Mia’s familiar with by now – after all, the cosmos just took her for a more intense ride than most. “I think about the transformation of a butterfly who’s in a cocoon – it’s a scary experience,” she explains, borrowing an analogy from nature to describe the challenges she faced during her own astrological entry into womanhood. “If someone tries to break the cocoon open for it, it won’t be able to fly. It has to learn how to use its wings, and so it’s the same thing for humans. I think on an emotional level, Saturn Return is very much that — it’s horribly painful. But on a spiritual level, the experience is extremely transformative, and extremely beautiful.”

Photo of Lauren Mia wearing a leather jacket and DJing
Jeremy Verone

Those last two words resonate: extremely beautiful. This is the proper description for Mia’s debut album ‘RE:BIRTH’, which dropped via her Ear Porn Music imprint on 14th November — the label boss’ 30th birthday, and not-so-coincidentally, the completion of her Saturn Return. The 13-track collection chronicles the obstacles, introspection, and path to true self-love that emerged over the past few years, a time marked by major artistic and personal growth. Structured in chapters, the analog-driven project — lush in shades of melancholy, mystery, and hope — is a testament to the power of self-acceptance, and the work required to get there. For Mia, this meant stepping away from music at times to focus first on inner-healing, a motion which gave way to her most poignant creation yet.

Despite her current fascination with the topic, Mia was largely unaware of the cosmic alignment taking place when her world turned chaotic. “I hit that peak point of exactly where Saturn was when I was born, and that’s when I went through my biggest loss,” Mia shares in a sombre tone. “That’s what made me really start to believe in astrology more. I think I was a bit skeptical, but I noticed like, wow, that’s exactly the point in time when I lost the love of my life, and my soul.”

Waves of grief crashed into long stretches of distraction. “I like to create when I’m in a high vibrational space, when my intentions are pure and I’m putting positivity into my work,” she reveals. “I literally could not even have imagined making an album during the time that I was going through my Saturn Return — I was just trying to keep myself afloat.”

Before that tragic loss, however, the progressive house and ethereal techno composer was flying high, appearing on several Anjunadeep: On Rotation Tour line-ups, and amassing scores of fans with her darkly emotive take on dance music. “Life was just bliss, and I was crushing it,” she shares in a bubbly tone that lends a stark contrast to her often serious compositions. “Even during the pandemic and after moving back from Berlin, I was in flow with life. But then that changed astronomically.” The pun isn’t lost on us.

That first year was hectic, and after studying more about the mechanics of Saturn Returns — namely how to embrace disarray rather than fight against it — Mia turned to shadow work, where she explored her repressed thoughts and feelings in hopes of moving forward. The lead single, ‘Shadow’, peels back the pain with its driving low-end, discordant synths, and vivid lyrics about the parts of ourselves that lie buried within the subconscious. It has a mystical quality that defines the LP’s opening movement. Later, in controlled settings, Mia sat with plant medicine to tend to recent traumas, as well as soften scars from her youth in Los Angeles, where she grew up as the daughter of two immigrant parents, often treated like an outsider who never quite fit in.

Photo of Lauren Mia beneath a rainbow light
Rex Yu

“The moment that I turned 29 years old, the doors opened for me creatively, and that’s when things just really came in — they came seamlessly, and they came fast.”

‘Ceremony’, a pulsing and hypnotic techno production, pays homage to ancient ritualistic practices that incorporate psychedelics like ayahuasca, and the religious communities that keep these traditions alive today. “The Mayans literally use the shell horn to notify their ancestors, ‘hello, we’re about to sit in ceremony! Please bless this space. Please protect us,’” she says, gesturing as though holding a conch in her hands (there’s a recording of the shell’s call in the track, and Tibetan sound bowls, too.) ‘Ashes in Paradise’, a cut about the duality of lightness and darkness, is reflective of Mia's own revelations gleaned through this stint of inner work. Similarly, it spotlights another ceremonial element — this time the sound of a Shofar.

In college, Mia pursued a religious studies minor, and thus her attraction to those teachings adds colour to ‘RE:BIRTH’’s productions. “There are a lot of mantras that I used in those harder techno pieces as well,” she offers. “For example, ‘om sai ram’, which basically refers to one consciousness, the idea that we are all one. People get triggered by the word God, but God really is just source consciousness interpreted in different ways across religions and cultures.” Together, these details add a preternatural gloss to the album’s progression, as though it’s been touched by something human, as well as the divine.

The beginning of Mia’s Saturn Return was devastating and depleting, but with time, it delivered a fresh burst of energy. “The moment that I turned 29 years old, the doors opened for me creatively, and that’s when things just really came in — they came seamlessly, and they came fast,” she explains with excitement. A significant professional shift took place in 2023, also — Mia recommitted to her craft as an independent artist, a step she hopes other artists will feel empowered to take after witnessing her journey. “We should not be limiting ourselves at all when it comes to art.”

Photo of Lauren Mia in the studio

For the last 12 months, Mia’s lived those words out loud. Less focused on bookings, the instrumentalist put in ample time in the studio, treating each session like a sacrament. “I lit my incense. I set the space. I set my intentions. I meditated, and then I would start the process of making the song,” she explains. This approach ensured she could authentically transfer her lived experience into an audio recording, to document this unique time in her existence. “It was the most beautiful, happy, aligned time of my life, in so long, and ever,” she recalls, beaming at the memories of working with her gear — like her Novation Summit, her KORG Minilogue, and her Deep Mind Beringher 12 — to imagine the album’s core analog essence. “I was just smiling every day, excited to get up in the morning. Every day was productive.”

Mia’s debut album reflects that “in like a lion, out like a lamb” energy, kicking off with a burst of tumultuous ambiance in its ‘Initium’ intro, before launching into a melodic cascade of crisp drums and stirring frequencies. The title track comes last, and ties the collection together. Reverting back to airy textures, it boasts an aura far brighter than before. “Ending the very last moment of the album with my own voice, saying the word ‘rebirth,’ that was the moment that I felt my soul transcend into this new evolved state where I feel comfortable in my own skin,” Mia explains, with a wisdom that can only be earned through surrender. “I have discernment,” she continues, “I feel less attached to outcomes. I’m more in flow with life.”

Want more? Read DJ Mag’s recent cover interview with HoneyLuv here.

Megan Venzin is DJ Mag North America’s deputy editor. You can follow her on Instagram @meggerzv

Pics: Rex Yu (@rex.shooter), Jeremy Verone (@jveronephoto)
Lighting Design: Jones Crow (@jonescrow)