Interview: Nicole Millar on Debut EP, Upcoming Tour + Electronic Dance Music

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Her hit collaboration with Peking Duk in 2014 was a huge success, leaving word on the street that Sydney artist Nicole Millar was the name to watch. Not showing any signs of slowing down since, Millar has recently launched her debut solo EP February 5th, Tremble. In the lead-up to the Australian tour April 2016, NICOLE MILLAR chats all things music with JAYDE FERGUSON.

Nicole Millar |Tremble EP

Taking a full year off to write and record her first solo project, Millar had fans eagerly waiting her new beat drop from October last year, when the first single off the much-anticipated EP Wait was released. Already burning up Australian airwaves less than 6 months later, Millar has the country hooked with her unique blend of RnB-infused electronic beats.

Thrown into the spotlight after appearing on Peking Duk’s single High, 2015 was a massive year for Millar who set about to work on her solo music career after some rad vocal features. Already having a few big-name collaborations under her belt for the likes of Cosmo’s Midnight and RÜFÜS too, Miller made the announcement that she was ready to roll solo – and fans have been far from disappointed since.

Showcasing soulful electronic cuts and powerfully intense build-ups, Millar’s is mysterious and moody. Layered with suspense and dimension, the edgy beats combined with Millar’s stunning voice lead you through a musical journey of slow-moving rhythms that pick you up and drop you back, over and over again

Now getting pumped to launch the arrival of Tremble over a string of shows around Australia, Nicole Millar’s EP tour kicks off Friday 15th April in Melbourne. You can catch her at her Perth show Sunday 24th April before the tour finishes on 30th April 2016. Have a listen to the full EP here.

Q&A with Nicole Millar

1. Thanks for chatting to me Nicole. It’s been a busy last few months for you with the release of Tremble, how are you finding it?

I’ve been well thanks! Yeah, I guess you can say that. Very busy indeed. 

2. Tremble showcases a really unique tone to your voice, with lots of intense drops and layered sounds; how did the track come about and what are the main theme ideas behind the song?

Thank you! I wrote this track in LA with a guy called Dan Farber and Deutsch Duke. We were actually put into a session on a writing camp organised through APRA called SongHubs. Normally I don’t get much out of these things but together we wrote Tremble and it’s probably my favourite song I have made. 

3. Both Tremble and Wait feel really evolved from your previous single Taken, how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since?

I took a year and a half off to write because as an artist, I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to take my solo career. I’ve definitely grown, not just as an artist, but as a person too because of this self exploration. 

4. What was it like working with producer Dan Farber on this EP? I know he helped you gain confidence with the recording side of things, what was the whole process like for you?

Dan and I really clicked in our session together in LA. I had been looking for someone to produce my EP for a while now but didn’t quite find the sound I was wanting. The process was really natural. He came out to Australia and we sat in the studio for 2 weeks creating the exact sounds that I was looking for. 

5. The music video for Tremble is fantastic! What’s the idea behind it?

The clip was a concept the boys at YeahSure came up with. These guys are my creative team. They are amazing and always capture the vibe I like. We just wanted to have a video that was simple yet creative. We got together some dances and filmed them dancing to the track with emotion, not choreography, and I think that really worked because everything just fell into place form there and it didn’t look awkward or forced. 

Nicole Millar | Toward Music

6. You opened for local Perth artist Troye Sivan last month in Sydney, how was that? I hear it was all fairly last minute with Gordi coming down sick!

It was very last minute. And it was a shame that Gordi was sick because I was actually going to the show already and would have loved to see her perform. It was one of the most amazing experiences though. Definitely the best show I’ve ever played and the crowd was very responsive. It was great to show people the tracks from my EP before they got released too. 

7. There’s definitely some bassy RnB influences in your songs too, how did you get into the electronic dance music scene and what initially inspired this unique blend of sound?

I listen to way too much RnB music haha, so I think that has inspired my music massively. I was listening to The Weeknd the most whilst writing this EP. I’ve always been writing electronic music too, so it was only natural to keep doing so for my EP. All in all, my music is pop but influenced by so many other genres too. 

8. The Weeknd, MØ and Major Lazer have all had an impact on your music, what’s one of your favourite things about these guys that makes them so influential to you?

They are all great songwriters that make pop music, but they stand out from all the other songs on the radio because they’re not afraid to write about themselves and be creative lyrically. I also love their confidence. I think it’s really important to be confident about your music and continue to do what you love love. It can be so easy to fall into a trap of writing stuff that you don’t care about. 

9. Do you write the lyrics before the music, or the beat then the words?

It’s always a different process for me. I normally write to much first, but the music always ends up changing the final product. 

10. You’ve collaborated with some massive names, including EDM heavyweights Peking Duk on their hit single High, what was it like working with them?

Peking Duk were really fun to work with, they’re great guys and made me feel comfortable when we were in the studio. This was one of my first every sessions. Before that I would just write to beats over the internet so I was a little nervous but I guess it paid off, haha!

11. RÜFÜS and Emoh were other big acts too for you, what did you learn from these guys that help you with your solo project?

Performing with RÜFÜS definitely helped my stage presence performing in front of thousands of people. It helped me get used to performing in front of big crowds and being confident with it. And I guess with all the collaborations I have done, they really helped as well with gaining an audience and a solid fan bass for my own music which is really amazing. 

Nicole Millar Interview | Toward Music

12. Who would you like to collaborate that you haven’t already?

So, so many people! I’m just concentrating on my own stuff right now but if an amazing opportunity comes along then I definitely wouldn’t pass on it. 

13. What artists are you really digging right now?

I have a Spotify playlist that I regularly update called Tunezzz right now. There I’m listening to Jack Garratt, Aluna George, Kalli Urchis and a lot more. 

14. Top female vocalist?

Rihanna. She’s a queen. 

15. First record you ever purchased?

Destiny’s Child. It was also my first concert and it blew me away!

16. Guilty pleasure song?

Hahaha…. I listened to Nelly Furtado growing up so probably I’m Like A Bird!

17. 2016 is set to be a big year for you with your first solo Australian tour to launch the EP< what are you most looking forward to with your music this year?

I just want to continue writing and performing. I’m going on tour really soon and I’m very excited as it’s my first solo tour. I’m also heading to the US in March so excited for that. 

18. Any more collaborations on the line for 2016 or are you just focusing on the solo material for the moment?

Maybe, I might have some coming up but definitely just working on my own stuff for the moment. 

19. Will you making an appearance at any great music festivals this year?

Not at the moment, but perhaps later on in the year. 

20. Perth fans can see you live on the 11th March for the Athena Women Music Festival and again on the 24th April at The Aviary, do you do anything special to prep before these gigs or just get up there and go for it!?

I rehearse a lot with my band so the performances are tight. I also do pilates as that helps with my nerves haha!


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Music Journalist + Senior Content Writer

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