With her last two singles making it to the top five on Canadian radio charts, a number one song in Korea, and numerous songs used by the television and film industry, Langley pop artist Marika Siewert - better known simply as MARIKA - released her second album to iTunes this week.
While Siewert would love to sign with a big-name label, the 32-year-old Willoughby woman isn't willing to compromise her values or beliefs to do so. She's striving with her songs and actions around this new album, called Unstoppable, to send a message to everyone to be true to themselves and follow their dreams.
"I'm an artist. Naturally, I want to be heard_ what artist doesn't want to get their music in everyone's ears?" she told the Langley Advance. But she's has to do it on her terms, wanting the music and everything around it to empower.
"My desire is to be a positive influence on my audience and inspire them. After feeling like I've failed many times in this industry, and not being accepted for being who I was, not compromising my integrity, and being a respectful artist and business woman, I was given the gift of this album, and what feels like an incredible step in my career. I want as many people to hear this and hopefully be inspired by the journey, too."
Unstoppable was very much a gift, Marika said.
After clashing with a producer over script and scheduling changes for a music video, Marika walked away from the partnership, fearing she'd made the worst mistake of her career.
Admitted she "wallowed" for a couple years and refocused her energies and time on songwriting and producing other artists.
Now, upon reflection, she said she did the right thing.
"I won't change who I am_ I won't compromise my integrity, my ethics. At all times, I want to be someone my kids can be proud of."
While Marika has no regrets that she stepped back from the industry, she said she did miss performing, which she describes as "my first love."
So, she was thrilled when - unexpectedly - she was approached by a Mission producer, Philip Janz, to collaborate on a new album.
They'd worked on 35-song musical three years earlier and jumped at a chance to work together again.
They spent the last year writing and recording - with the assistance of Janz's wife Brenda. The result: Unstoppable, a collection of 12 songs that Marika calls "positive pop music."
"The music industry has been good to me, but it's also had many challenges that I never talked about. This album is an honest representation of my journey till now. It has songs of hope, of hardship, of perseverance, and of freedom, and ultimately is really a reminder to myself and others to keep dreaming big, and keep being the best you can be!" she said.
"I think every song encompasses my journey_ These songs, they're all sort of for me," Marika said, believing they offer empowerment not only for herself but others - especially young women.
"Bottom line, believe in your dreams and anything is possible_ When I was on the verge of giving up, this was handed to me."
To celebrate the album's completion, Marika held a "listening party" for friends and family on Sunday.
Too often, she said, artists work like dogs for a year or more to get their music ready for release - like she did - then don't take time to celebrate the accomplishment before throwing themselves into the marketing.
"The journey is so difficult, it's important to celebrate reaching that goal," Marika said.
The album was subsequently released to iTunes on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and while she's still holding out hope that a major label will want to snatch it up, she's proceeding with her own release plans.
She hopes to release the title-track, Unstoppable, to radio soon, and is working up a tour that will start in the new year.
ù More at www.langleyadvance.com
One of the ethical dilemmas she's run up against with her music, Marika said, is being told she has to create "booty shaking" music that will appeal to the bar crowd.
But that's not her vision. While she said many of her songs are strong dance songs, she wants to continue playing at festivals, schools, youth clubs, and special events that are all-age crowds.
"I love the aspect of reaching people with my music," she said, and Marika doesn't want to ignore young people.
In fact, she not only wants her music to reach out to younger people, but her own two young children.
Her husband Stacy has recently joined her production company, Emerton Records, and Marika said next year's tour will have to involved the entire family.
"We do life together. We want to be an example of following our dreams as a family_ we do believe it can be done. And life is too short not to follow your dreams," she said, realizing with this album that she doesn't have to do it alone.
With a great team behind her, including her family, Marika said she's unstoppable now.
She knows she doesn't fit the industry mould, but she's good with that. Her next goal is to have a number one single on the radio charts all around the world, hoping her unique sound and unwavering standards can make her as famous as Adele.
In addition to being available for download off iTunes, her album is also available at www.unstoppable.com or emertonrecords.com.