Mitski makes a case for the outsiders

Mitski is used to playing traditional rock crowds: “When everyone at the bar looks like Bukowski,” she says, “it’s a great way to learn how to draw those people in.”

MITSKI MIYAWAKI DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY TO fly home for the holidays. It was late 2017, and the raw-edged indie rocker, who performs under her first name, was fresh off a two-year world tour that ended in Australia. Instead, she took herself to nearby Malaysia. Lonely, devoid of instruments and itching to turn her frustrations into music, she went to a local Toys “R” Us and bought a toy piano. On that piano she wrote “Nobody,” a glittering single off her new album, Be the Cowboy, out Aug. 17. Beneath its disco-ready chords, “Nobody” is a song about a young woman grappling with isolation.

“For a long time, I didn’t believe I could be a musician,” Mitski says now, over tea in Manhattan. “I didn’t see anyone like me doing what I wanted to

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