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Songtrust Spotlight: MISHA

Raised in Muscat (Oman) and The Netherlands, singer-songwriter, artist Marcia "MISHA" Sondeijker, co-founder of TOUKAN RECORDS and TOUKAN PUBLISHING, started writing in 2017. With more than 250 million streams and 520,000 copies (singles and albums) sold under her belt, she is known for writing for Kpop artists like TAEYEON ("INVU" #1 Worldwide iTunes Album with hit single "Weekend" that topped #3 on Billboard K-Pop Top 100 and stayed within Top 9 for 20 weeks), TAEMIN ("Strings" #1 in 41 countries, #6 Billboard Japan Hot Albums, #14 Billboard U.S. World Albums), and HYO ("Think About Me"), Eurovision Song Contest artists Sarah McTernan ("22"), Tamta ("Awake" EP), and Kristin Husøy ("Pray For Me" #1 on Norway iTunes Top Songs and #1 at Spotify Viral Norway). She also penned "Let Me Take You There" for Max Styler ft. Laura White which topped the #1 US Dance Radio Airplay chart, #1 Most Played on SiriusXM Diplo’s Revolution, and #26 Billboard Dance Airplay Chart for 10 weeks with over 25 million streams worldwide.


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I've been singing since the age of 4. I grew up in Muscat (Sultanate Oman) and I have tapes of me as a little girl sitting butt naked on the beach, playing with sand and water while singing my lungs out all day. The world around me would just disappear. Growing older, I would sing along with incredible tunes on the radio of Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. Seeing them on stage singing and dancing, as I would do on the beach and in my bedroom, felt magical to me and I wanted to become a pop star too.

My family returned to The Netherlands when I was 9 years old and I was very proud to buy my first CD ever: "MTV Unplugged" by Mariah Carey in '92. She taught me how to sing and use my voice. Man, what an EP that was. Mariah's been my inspiration since day one and so I've bought every single and album she released. With "I'll be there" being my favorite on that EP, I would read the credits over and over again like a million times. I found it so interesting that she would write her own songs and then get to sing them. I didn't know anything about songwriting back then, but I would keep lyrical ideas and promised myself to remember the melodies and not to lose the notes. Of course, that never worked. I was always singing but didn't take it that seriously anymore when I was in my teens and twenties. It was only when I turned 28 I would write my first song ever, by accident, on a beat of a Dutch hip-hop producer who needed a catchy hook for his rapper. I literally Googled "how to write a song" and read "Writing Better Lyrics" by Pat Pattison. That's when I discovered songwriting and absolutely loved it. THIS WAS IT! While listening to Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" and songs by hit songwriters Max Martin and Savan Kotecha, they became my new inspirations. In 2017, I decided to change my career, switch the boring marketing office for a homemade studio, and started to follow my heart.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

I'd probably describe my style as RnB pop, keeping it simple and clean in production and toplining. Lots of Mariah Carey-inspired harmonies and riffs. My goal is to create beautiful melodies that touch people, have honest lyrics, and are easy to sing along with and remember.  Maintaining high quality, looking for new authentic stuff, and always pushing myself a little further, and not to be satisfied too fast. The first inspiration of melodies and lyrics are the most honest ones and I tend to honor these and create further on that.

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC

Going through multiple burnouts and depressions, writing was healing for me. Now that I'm balanced and aligned with myself, I write from a place of inspiration, gratitude, and fun. I still dream of a worldwide hit and writing for big artists such as Ariana Grande or Rihanna but being able to do what I love most every single day where, whenever and with whom, is a blessing and feels like success for me. I'm already living my dream and am free. I hate setting my alarm in the morning and now I don't have to anymore.

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

My lover and business partner, Roel Rats from The Netherlands, formerly known as Roul of DJ duo RoulNDoors, now known as producer Roulsen, taught me everything about vocal recording and mixing, the basics of producing, and has helped me to improve myself and create special songs. His melodies and skills are just sick. We've been making music together from the start and I've always looked up to his creativity and knowledge. We own TOUKAN RECORDS and TOUKAN PUBLISHING together.

My friend, colleague, and spiritual coach Eric Lumiere from LA, singer-songwriter and producer, has been supporting me from day one too and introduced me to a publisher who organises Eurovision camps which has opened so many doors and connections for me.

My man Michael Dann of Prolific Songs U.K.! The number of introductions, connections, sessions, and cuts he arranged for me are just insane. Shout out to my good friend Jason Jordan from NYC as well. And of course, every business meeting, every single session I've had has been important in my development. Couldn't have done it without y'all! My mom has been my biggest fan from the start.

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

I believe you have two choices: either follow your heart or you don't. Follow your heart and do things with the least resistance. Only do things that feel good to you. Or don't follow your heart and you'll find great resistance. It automatically brings you back to the first one.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS? 

  • Create a safe environment for women in the workspace
  • Equal rights for everyone - male and female
  • Get more female creators to produce, mix and master
  • Support female creators, also financially
  • Create more female jobs in each department of music companies (A&R, marketing, legal etc) and in the music industry (festivals, venues, etc).

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Took me a while to find out, but follow your instinct. Believe in yourself and never doubt yourself. When one door shuts, another will open for you. Surround yourself with good and trustworthy people and with integrity only who respect and honor you for you and your work. Educate yourself on every business model of the music industry, from the creator to the fan who listens to your music, and find out what part aligns with you.

Network your ass off and build connections with producers, songwriters, mixers, masters, labels, publishers, management, lawyers, sync companies and agencies, etc. ALWAYS. Keep track of every person in the industry you meet in an Excel sheet and build your song catalogue including copyright and master ownership of every song. Agree on your terms BEFORE starting a session.

FROM YOUR VIEW, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF MARGINALIZATION AND ERASURE DOES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NEED TO ENSURE WE DON’T ENACT IN THE NAME OF GENDER EQUALITY? 

Hmmm, that's a difficult one, but perhaps maybe focus on beautiful music again? Isn't that the reason why we’re in the business in the first place?

WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?

Helping another woman to become successful is key to your own success. Your only competition is your own mind.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?

Good question! I go with the flow and try not to plan too many things. Little steps may turn into big ones and the Universe will bring exactly to me what I need.

What I know now is that we're releasing a couple of singles, maybe an album, with our artist Lara Samira under our label TOUKAN RECORDS and signing new artists and songwriters under TOUKAN PUBLISHING. I've got a few K-pop cuts coming up, one with Red Velvet, and a song with Afrojack. I'm also working on my solo project "MISHA ANGEL": old school RnB influenced songs mixed with African and Hip Hop beats, beautiful harmonies, and melodies. At least, I'll try!

Another project I'm working on is CLRS, a Dance project, together with my partner. And a beach holiday planned in Italy and France! Gosh, I think I have planned a lot already for 2022, lol.

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