Pia thoughtfully shares a personal snapshot in time.
The Detroit indie rock singer-songwriter reminisces about a past friendship and recalls vivid moments of connection on her nostalgic new single, “Old Days.”
“It’s the singular event of a friendship not really ending, but dissipating and changing the way that it used to look. It’s a shorter realization of like, ‘Oh wow, this person that I used to either talk to every day or had this certain relationship with, it’s now different,’” she said.
Throughout “Old Days,” Pia wonders what her friend drinks for breakfast and whether they remember summertime highway jaunts or stolen firewood adventures.
Alongside those inquiries, an emotive swell of wistful electric guitar, quavering bass, thumping drums, shiny cymbals and jingly tambourine seamlessly transport Pia to the past.
She sings, “It makes me sad something changed in your eyes/Ask how you’re doing seems like a big disguise/December’s long and we both know/That the sun is coming and it’s melting the snow.”
“When I reached the end of writing ‘Old Days,’ it helped that I similarly was realizing, ‘Oh friendships and relationships end, but not always for the worst, and that time is still special,’” Pia said.
Pia penned her sentimental track in May and recorded it with a talented team of collaborators, including producer John Katona of JK (Not Kidding Studios), Minihorse’s Ben Collins (lead guitar), Tom Mihalis (lead guitar), Stoop Lee’s Ade Olaniran (drums) and Matt Jones (bass).
“I recorded the demo and basis of the whole song with Ben Collins and myself on guitar and vocals and Ade of Stoop Lee on drums. Then, I sat on the song for a little because I got busy with residency, and then ended up finishing it up at John Katona’s,” said Pia, who’s also a pharmacist.
To accompany the release of “Old Days,” Pia dropped a thoughtful new lyric video, which features her roaming around Belle Isle.
“I asked my 16-year-old sister to videotape me doing random stuff on my friend Matt’s camcorder. She was like, ‘Oh, I get to use a camcorder?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, try it out.’ She followed me around, and I used that footage in the video,” she said.
“Old Days” also serves as Pia’s second nostalgic single since releasing “Stranger” in July. Filled with recollections of living in Midtown, the poignant track revisits Pia’s time at Wayne State University and explores neighborhood changes.
A symphony of fluttering synths, churning acoustic guitars, reflective bass, soft drums, glittery cymbals and pensive electric guitars summon cherished “Stranger” memories of Second Street, Marcus Market and the karaoke dive bar.
Pia sings, “Haven’t been since they shut down/Now I work on Sunday morning/Never asking for a ride/And don’t know what he did last week.”
“The lyrics first started to form for me in the winter of 2019, so that’s pre-pandemic time. And I was graduating from pharmacy school, and that was my eighth year of school that spring. It was kind of like me being, ‘Wow, this is my last couple of months in actual school … and I’ve spent this whole time in the same apartment,’” she said.
“Then the pandemic happened, and the song I had already pre-written took on a whole new view. The second verse is mostly about how the church that I used to play music at closed, and it was because of the pandemic. Originally, it started because I was graduating and was going to miss Midtown, and then it ended being influenced as a whole by the pandemic.”
For “Stranger,” Pia collaborated with Jones on the track’s structure and chord progressions, Christian Ohly on verses and backing vocals, and Collins on production. Everything for “Stranger” was tracked at Collins’ home studio in Ypsilanti.
“My idea was to just put out a video of old videos, which you still see in the video that Christian and I did. He was starting to learn video for Bird Fight sessions, and I was like, ‘Well, why don’t we just film me in my old apartment?’ It’s pretty picturesque, and it has some kind of deeper meaning in that I’m in this apartment, and it looks completely different, but it’s still the same place,” Pia said.
“For the live video, I brought the idea to John (Katona) of like, ‘We should do something different. Maybe we can go around your house and film in different parts of it.’ That was when the studio was still being finished up, so he wanted to showcase that.”
Westland and Detroit
As the oldest of four girls, Pia started showcasing her love of music while growing up in Westland. She took piano lessons in elementary and middle school and learned guitar on her own. Pia also absorbed pop punk, including The Maine, Boys Like Girls and All Time Low, and developed an appreciation for Taylor Swift.
“I was a huge Taylor Swift fan, and I still am. But I think her music was like a gateway for me to learn different chords, and it made me feel like I could do it,” said Pia, who’s also inspired by Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker.
In college, Pia played music at church and later performed at open mics at Dessert Oasis in Detroit. She also met Ohly and started performing with him at local venues before the pandemic.
“That led me to meet a bunch of people, and I met Matt (Jones) because he plays drums for Ohly. I also met John (Katona) and all these people from Detroit. It led me to think, ‘Oh, I can do this on my own as Pia, and I’ll have songs,’” she said.
Today, Pia is eagerly anticipating her first live show on March 26 at Hamtramck’s Sanctuary Detroit and assembling a band, which will include Jones (guitar, vocals), Ian Lukas (bass) and others.
“That’s why we’ve been getting together on a weekly basis and being like, ‘Which song are we going to work on today? Or what are we gonna write this week?’ It’s been so fun and faster than I thought it would be. I just work so well with Matt, and we have similar musical styles.”
In the meantime, Pia and Jones will continue to write and record new material for an upcoming project.
“Matt (Jones) and I have been discussing how we’ve been writing all these songs and wondering, ‘What’s the plan?’ We’re hoping to put out an EP either this summer or early fall. Since we’ve been writing so much, all of these songs will be contenders eventually for a full album,” she said.
7 p.m. Saturday, March 26
Sanctuary Detroit, 2932 Caniff St. in Hamtramck