MC Miranda Writes has found a way to combine her passions for hip hop music, snowboarding, and sharing positivity: she’s now the New York ambassador for the Chill Foundation, which provides inspiring life lessons (and the opportunity to snowboard, surf, and board) to underprivileged kids. The up-and-coming hip hop star talked to Honeysuckle about core values, the thrill of boarding, honesty through music, and unexpected cover songs.
EDEN GORDON: I love your music and your philosophy towards spreading positivity through music. How do you understand the relationship between your music and sharing positivity and inspiration, and how do those things inform your work?
MIRANDA WRITES: I’ve always felt that words are more powerful than we think they are, and I think that sometimes there’s just too much negativity going on. It’s amazing, all the stuff we take in, and it’s not all good things. I’ve always wanted to use my voice in a positive way, especially for women and in hip hop too, because I feel like there’s always been a grey area there, and it’s nice to share messages that make women feel good in addition to music that sounds good. The combination isn’t one-sided.
I really admire that approach. Are there any messages in particular you’ve been passionate about lately?
I’ve been focusing on learning and encouraging people to not only be kind to other people, but to practice self-love and self-care. People say that all the time, but actually practicing that and learning how to harness that will make an amazing difference in your life and other people’s lives in general. I try to teach people how to love themselves and to know themselves better, because I always say, how can you understand the person sitting across from you if you don’t know who you are as a person? It’s about getting people to dive deeper into themselves.
How did you get into music and to where you are?
When I was in my junior year of high school, I started writing poetry, and that was my way of expressing myself at that point. I wasn’t thinking about being an artist—poetry was how I got through my day-to-day. As I started to fall in love with writing, I started wondering how I could take it to the next level, and I’ve always loved hip hop as well, so honestly one day I decided to put what I wrote over an instrumental, and I liked the way that felt and loved it, and ever since then I’ve been making music.
I also come from a family that’s really into music—I grew up in a household where my parents were always playing hip hop, so hip hop culture has always been a part of my life, but it wasn’t until later that I made it a part of mine.
I can definitely see the poetic influences in your lyricism and rhyme schemes.
So you’ve just become the New York ambassador for the Chill Foundation. I haven’t often seen an intersection between boarding and music, and definitely haven’t seen anyone using both of those things together as a way to further social good, so I was wondering if you could talk about your work with the Chill Foundation, and how you got involved.
The reason why I was attracted to the Chill Foundation is for me personally, snowboarding is one of my favorite hobbies, one that allows me to escape. When I found out about the Chill Foundation and the work they were doing, I thought it was absolutely amazing. The youth they serve are underprivileged and come from a lot of different circumstances. These kids don’t have the opportunity to see what a mountain looks like, so through our work we’re able to take them out of their everyday circumstances, and allow them to do something new.
I’m also doing the music for some of the Chill Foundation’s programming. We’ll be doing a video, and ovall I’ve been really tying my musical background into my work Chill.
Like I said, the Chill Foundation serves inner city youth, and they’re all familiar with urban music—it’s what they grew up with, and they’re all into hip hop—so hip hop and boarding make a really nice combination. I love to snowboard, but I also can relate to the kids in a different way because we connect on a music level.
It’s an interesting combination that also just makes sense. So how exactly does the Chill Foundation work?
We work with all different boarding sports. Right now we’re in snowboarding season, but we also have a surfing program, as well as skateboarding and paddle boarding. Chill is all across North America now, and they have several international programs as well.
The Foundation focuses on several core values, and each snowboarding or surfing lesson is paired with one of these values. For instance, when I was with the kids last week, we focused on courage, and we spoke about how courage pertains to our everyday lives and how it pertains to learning how to snowboard. There is a whole curriculum involved in addition to actually learning how to do these different sports. Everything is provided to the youth at no cost. They basically come to have a good time, to learn and be around positive reinforcement, and to get away for a little bit. I’m the New York City ambassador, so I am working directly with the New York kids.
Have you seen your work have any impact on the kids you’ve worked with?
I think it really changes their mentality. Because of where they come from, they’re often used to being in rough circumstances, and it’s nice for them to be around people who want the best for them, and who are encouraging them to chase their dreams and to work towards the things they want to do in life. It’s about a lot more than snowboarding. I feel our core values—respect, courage, persistence, responsibility—really allows the kids to bring our lessons into their everyday life, into how they treat their friends, how they treat themselves, and how they treat their families. I think they experience long-term change after the program.
Do you share your music with the kids?
I do whenever I get the chance. With the Bronx group, I was there to talk to them about courage and the core values, but I felt like a perfect intro would be for them to hear my music, because then they could pair who I am with my style. I love sharing my music with them, because I think it’s important. When you try to connect with people, they need to know a bit about who you are before they open up. My music is so personal to me, and if I’m sharing my music with somebody, that’s actually one of the deepest connections I can make, because whenever I’m creating, I’m sharing my inner thoughts and emotions.
You’ve said you see a connection between your music and what the Chill Foundation is doing, with snowboarding especially. Do you see them as occupying similar spaces or doing similar work?
When you watch professional riders, before they go down the mountain, there’s always music playing. I’m always listening to music whenever I ride. There has always been this direct correlation. You go to a mountain and you don’t leave your headphones at home—you make sure you have your music, to amp you up and to have something to ride to, to have something that gets you in the mood if you’re doing crazy tricks or whatever. It’s all related.
Do you have a go-to song to listen to while snowboarding?
Not necessarily. I do love listening to the Prodigy—that band is super awesome and high-energy—but I listen to a lot of different music whenever I snowboard, usually hip hop but sometimes alternative styles or electronica. I like to switch it up depending on my mood for the day.
Where do you usually snowboard?
I’m only fifteen minutes from Mountain Creek, even though I’m in New York, so that’s my local mountain. But I’ve been all over on the East Coast. I go to Vermont a lot, I absolutely love Stowe and Mt. Snow, and Killington is really awesome.
Do you feel like there’s a similarity in how you feel when you’re boarding or performing, or are they totally different experiences?
Personally, I feel like they’re pretty different. Snowboarding, even though it’s a high-energy sport, is semi-relaxing to me. When I go snowboarding, I go with the intention of trying to get away from all the chaos of everything else. They both give me an adrenaline rush, but it’s a different kind of rush—boarding feels different from when I’m expressing vocally with my music. Even though snowboarding is challenging, I go to the mountain because I have free time or need to decompress from my day or from all the business side that’s involved in music. It allows me to clear my head.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
I’m going to be putting out a lot of new music this year. I actually just released a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and everyone was super surprised by that—it was so different—but it was fun to do. I’m definitely going to be dropping a lot of new music, and I’m going to be putting out show dates in the next few months or so, after I sync things up.
Why “White Rabbit’?
I just like to experiment a lot; it’s always hip-hop based, but I’ve done electronic projects, alternative hip hop, and all sorts of other things. I’m not sure if any hip hop artist has ever covered that song; and if they have I definitely want to hear it. I thought it would be fun and different—a totally different style that just makes sense.
To keep up with Miranda’s amazing work, check her out on Instagram, Twitter, and her website, and follow her on Soundcloud and Youtube!
For more about the Chill Foundation and to get involved, visit chill.org.