If you’re lucky in life, you get the chance to experience a musician in their rawest form. To discover an artist for yourself, without having to be told to check them out by friends or the media. If you are fortunate to have had that experience then you tend to develop a special bond and appreciation for the music. It was that way for me and the music of Misty Miller, a singer-songwriter from South West London, and soulful utiliser of the ukulele. Misty has been writing music since the age of eight with her brother Rufus, and constructed her first album at just 15. Much has been made of her use of the ukulele in her songs, but this is merely a musical vehicle for a mature and evocative talent. After all, the ukulele does not dictate her style in the slightest. She’s not producing ukulele music, rather a brand of music that expertly showcases a talented lyricist and storyteller.
Misty released her first album in February 2011, whilst studying for her GCSEs. The material on the record was written during the transition into her teens, and displays a maturity that betrays her tender years. As she looks forward to recording her next album, it is evident that Misty is open to change and evolution. Her more recent music is remarkably different from the first album, and displays the wealth of creativity she has to draw upon.
Misty defies classification or pigeonholing into the genres of pop, folk, blues etc. She is very much her own artist, and the songs she produces have an identity and soul all of their own. She has the all too rare quality of being fresh dynamic and revolutionary in everything she does. In a world going crazy for manufactured music and quick fix, short lived acts, Misty has the advantage of hard earned respect for her industry. It is important to her that she keeps control of her music and identity, and stay true to what has brought her attention globally. That being her work ethic and desire to achieve based on her musical merits alone.
It was a real treat for me to get to ask Misty some questions about her life in music thus far, and thoughts on where her journey might take her. I hope you enjoy reading what she had to say, and for the uninitiated, welcome to the wonders of Misty Miller…
Q: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Misty: Growing up, I was influenced by a wide variety of musicians. From Nirvana and Jesus and Mary Chain to Billie Holiday and Elvis. I was intrigued and inspired by great performers and song writers. This has carried on to now where at the moment I’m influenced a lot by Patti Smith, Iggy Pop and a few underground rock bands.
Q: When and how were you “discovered”?
Misty: At an open mic tent at Bestival. It said ‘sing for your supper’; I didn’t expect to meet my manager there!
Q: Where was your first ever gig, and how did it go?
M: My first gig was actually in Paris at a jazz club called ‘The New Morning Club’. It went really well, when I came back from it, I knew I was ready to perform more and take the next step in my career.
Q: Do you have a process when it comes to writing songs?
M: I try not to. Because I find the best songs come when I’m not thinking about them too much. Saying that, once I have the idea, then I begin to really work on it. And make it better. Which is something I have only taken up recently as I’ve become more interested in the craft of song writing.
Q: You must be proud of all your songs, but is there one in particular you like to perform?
M: The songs I like to perform the most are usually the recent ones. I love writing a new song and performing it on stage for the first few times! Saying that, Vampire, which I wrote a long time ago, has always stuck with me. And I enjoy playing it now more than I ever have before.
Q: You have a varied repertoire of song styles, from the more deliberate and rock inspired “Bones” to the lighter more ethereal “Vampire”. Is such diversity easy to achieve with a ukulele?
M: The ukulele is like any instrument to me, in terms of the way I play it. I don’t write a song for the ukulele, I write a song on the ukulele for me. So I do believe I can achieve diversity with it. Especially when I get my band involved to give it that strong backbone.
Q: You recently played the Thames Festival London, what was that like?
M: It was amazing! Looking out onto the river while you perform… really great!
Q: Who would you most like to work with in the industry?
M: As time has gone by, and my style has evolved, so have my ideas of working with other people. Of course I could write a long list of other artists id love to work with, but I think it’s something that should and will happen naturally. There is a guy called Jake Bugg who’s creeping onto the scene at the moment. I’m sure me and him could create a cool duet.
Q: What have you got coming up, and where do you hope your music takes you in the future?
M: Coming up is the next album! Which I honestly can’t wait to start recording. And that should all be kicking off beginning of next year. As for where I hope my music can take me in the future… inspiring venues, wild crowds, late nights with good music, and South America.
Massive thanks to Misty and her representatives for making this possible, it’s great to be able to talk about Misty and share her wonderful talents. She has such a beautiful voice and sentiment in her music, and I hope you’ll be as affected by her as I have been. To find out more please visit her website (www.mistymiller.com).
Images for this article were kindly provided by Misty’s representative Anthony Gordon.