Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.
For Siena Liggins, a well-crafted pop song starts with a relatable subject and includes a catchy hook that’s intertwined with a simple melody.
“I just have always been obsessed with really simple melodies that get stuck in your head, and you end up accidentally singing it,” she said. “It’s the stuff that people usually love to hate.”
Coincidentally, Detroiters will show Liggins the love this weekend instead when she performs at the Mo Pop Festival. The Motor City pop-R&B-dance singer-songwriter will perform a much anticipated 2:15 p.m. Saturday set on the River Stage.
Liggins will join 27 other emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park. Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the boutique and niche festival, which returns for its seventh year.
Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with opening performances from Michigan-based artists to expose attendees to some of the area’s rising local acts. Liggins and The Messenger Birds will perform Saturday while The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will take the stage on Sunday.
During her set, Liggins will perform her latest single, “Laws of Attraction,” a 3.5-minute high-energy pop track with a tick-tock vibe about a reactionary relationship.
It’s the perfect summer track for a throwdown on the dance floor, or in this case, a park. As an added bonus, Flint electronic-pop-R&B singer-songwriter Tunde Olaniran penned the track’s memorable post-chorus.
“I wrote ‘Laws of Attraction’ because I was trying to write really vague lyrics. Often my lyrics are just very straightforward, like you are getting exactly what you’re supposed to get. I just felt like a lot of the things that were happening to me were because of the energy that I was putting out,” Liggins said.
“I was sort of in this situation with someone where everything that she did elicited action from me, and then it would just snowball into a really shitty situation. I just wanted to write a song that toyed with the idea that exactly what you put out into the world is what you end up getting back.”
Liggins has been putting herself out there musically since age 11. While she was born in Saginaw, Liggins grew up in a military family and lived in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and California before moving back to Michigan to finish her senior year of high school and attend college.
During her childhood, she grew up on late ‘90s, early ‘00s pop and R&B, including TLC, Usher and Britney Spears, and was inspired by the uplifting, consumable nature of the genre. She also developed a deep appreciation for Beyoncé’s music as well as her creative vision and work ethic.
Liggins continued to write songs as a teen and later left college to pursue music full time. She also teamed up with Assemble Sound, an independent artist development hub in Detroit, to record and distribute her music and collaborate with other artists and producers.
“Assemble is a great place for that, so I started writing for some of the artists there,” she said. “Eventually, enough producers liked my writing, and they wanted to work on some stuff for me. The first song I made there was ‘Flowerbomb.’”
Released last year, “Flowerbomb” quickly garnered national attention for its infectious beat and melody as well as memorable lyrics – “I got your dress up/Hair down/Flowerbomb from last night/You and me, low key/Good love, come get you something.”
“When I wrote ‘Flowerbomb,’ it was a real situation that happened. Literally, I woke up one morning and my pillow smelled like this perfume from someone who had been there the night before,” Liggins said. “We were in this really sticky situation, and I wanted to write something, so on my morning commute, I wrote that in the car.”
Besides “Flowerbomb,” Liggins also released two other standout tracks last year, the female body empowerment anthem, “Naked,” and a final plea to save a failing relationship via drunken texts in “Me Again.” She’s planning to release other follow-up singles later this year.
With a growing body of work and fan base, Liggins’ music especially creates a strong sense of pride for the local and national LGBTQ community. She’s proud to support the community and educate others about it through her music.
“It is part of who I am, so it’s naturally going to come out in my music because I’m part of the community. When I make songs, anybody that makes any sort of creative material or art usually makes it for their own tribe,” Liggins said.
“It’s a conveyance of the things that you deal with or go through daily. I’m very proud of who I am and how I exist in this world so that sense of pride also shines through that way.”
Liggins will shine during her Saturday Mo Pop set, which will feature her current singles as well as new music.
“I hope people see it, and they’re excited about me, and they want to go with more of my music afterward,” she said. “I hope people like the songs, and I hope they feel like I belong at the show. I want to be a good opening set and a good way to kick off their festival day.”
Tickets are still available for this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival. Single-day passes are $95 while weekend passes are $149.50.