Ever since her earliest days, 24-year-old Misao McGregor has always felt like that small kid in the corner who feels afraid, lost, forgotten, and quite frankly, not worth the trouble they stir up.
As an openly gay, mixed-race, non-binary femme, Misao has encountered many moments when individuals didn’t believe in her or made her feel a certain way. “When I was in high school, I endured an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship from an adult figure who was exercising their power over me,” explains Misao. “But being challenged in that way at such a young age also gave me a chance to call out what was wrong. And that might have been the first time in my life that I did that. Being attacked for who you are, leaves you with a lot of shame, guilt, remorse, and self-doubt.”
In a time of political divisiveness, the LA-based singer/songwriter seeks to tell her story in a way that can help humanize one’s experiences of difference, allowing others to empathize and shift their perspectives. Misao has done just that on her latest record, Kid In The Corner.
Kid In The Corner sees Misao take on the persona of a championship boxer. Though the degree of transparency in her lyrics may leave her vulnerable, she can be her most authentic self as she faces her traumas and life experiences head-on. With each song bringing her one punch closer to victory. Ultimately, allowing her to separate herself from these feelings and approach them with a little more compassion each time she looks in the mirror.
Autobiographically, the album opens with a real-life recording of welcoming McGregor into the world. A level of intimacy seldom seen.
The following track, “Blue Boi” explores a feeling of longing Misao holds for a certain someone. “We fucked up a lot my dear and uh / We drank when the water wasn’t clear,” sings McGregor, implying that they may have taken a chance on love before it ever really made sense to.
Next, “She Was Worlds Above Me” recounts of a time Misao sat on the sidelines as she watched a love of hers fall for someone else. “She smiled when he took her hand like so / Of course it mattered that I couldn’t be her beau.” Telling of this experience brought comfort to her pain, as Misao was able to reflect on this moment through song.
Progressing through the record, “Runaway” sees Misao’s angelic vocals floating over a rhythmic beat. A track implying a moment of freedom as she urges to move away from somewhere and someone. “You’re my light / I’m begging you: ‘please, don’t let me run’ from you.” As much as it may be freeing for Misao to leave, that someone means enough to her, that she can’t see herself walking away. The lines: “Used to leaving those who left me first / Cuz there’s no use in sticking around” implies just that – Misao wants to make things work, even if it’s from a distance.
Yet again, we are graced with another home recording, here we hear of Misao’s birthday celebration until faded into the next track by way of notes on a piano.
“Stay in the Desert” recollects the memory of a final goodbye. “I don’t want you to go away tonight, I don’t want you to go away tonight” sings Misao as she begins to find reason within the rubble by feeling all there is to feel about someone she wishes she could have by her side. “Even though I think I’m crazy, you reassure me the best people are / So won’t you stay?” The track fades out to another clip exploding with the innocence of childhood.
Almost theatrical in nature, “Weather the Weather” progressively builds into a song of empowerment. “I was made for this, I was made for this / I was made to weather storms with my wings,” sings Misao as she comes face-to-face with whatever the world throws her way. “I was made to do impossible things.” Misao has found light in the darkness, and hope for the silenced. A song that encourages others to go out and do what they were meant to do.
The closing track, “B Major” tells ofMisao’s positives and negatives on her journey to achieving self-love and worthiness. “I’ve started picking out my meals from my brain to the toilet,” sings Misao documenting what is her struggle with an eating disorder. “But all I’ve got are stretch marks that I actually love / wear an ocean ’round my thighs like a glistening tail,” a line that shows just how dedicated Misao is to changing her mindset about how she feels about herself.
This final track is the perfect ending to what is an album built on individuality, acceptance, and freedom. Misao breaks free from the chains of uncertainty, telling her story through a medium understood by all. “If people are able to take away a sense of empowerment from what I’ve made, that’s the greatest gift I could ever have imagined.”
Misao leaves us all with one final message:
“For anyone else who is struggling with anything, I want them to know that there is power in releasing it. Whether that’s writing in a journal and not sharing it with anyone or documenting your experience and opening yourself up to others, I think the act of releasing your trauma in a tangible way is a powerful act of agency that no one else can do for you or take away from you. It’s scary to come to terms with yourself. But that’s what your whole life is going to be. So long as you are patient, surround yourself with people who are invested in your growth and wellbeing, and remain curious about all that you are capable of, you will get through whatever struggle you’re currently enduring. You’re worth every bit of that struggle. But you are not the storm itself.”
Just because you fall down, doesn’t mean you can’t get back up. Fight for the way back to your true self, remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.
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