Talk about Girl Power. Millie Manders works wonders on her new EP with a full, powerful vocal. There are two EPs already in her back catalogue and Millie is clearly getting good at putting together songs that she should be proud of, and that display her talents both singing and writing. Her new EP, Obsession Transgression, is less of a spectrum of styles, more a splattering of colours thrown skilfully together to create a beautiful new shade. While the primary sound of this EP is that of ska, she could definitely perform highly in any genre she sets her mind to.
The opening track instantly cements the overlying ska theme with an instant hit of brass. On the surface it is a great fun song, as you’d expect from the genre, but listen to the lyrics and you get a taste of how socially conscious she is. The title track covers the subject of influential magazines and the media perception of beauty. It’s a deep subject for such a jaunty songs, but it’s well executed.
‘Teddy‘ is where we really start to see her range. The bass heavy intro already hints at a darker side to the song, in which the singer songwriter takes the role of a controlling or, as the lyrics say, ‘possessive‘ partner. In keeping with the line “You’re so pretty, I’m going crazy,” the vocals slowly lose control towards the end of the song. They gradually descend into madness and screams in a wonderfully weird way, only serving to prove the earlier point that Millie is multi-talented when it comes to her vocal chords.
The stand out track is ‘Bacchus‘, a wonderful ode to the God of wine. There’s something rich and smooth about this song. Appropriately, its the audio equivalent of a good, full-bodied red wine. And its so easy to sing along to with the repetitive refrain and catchy rhythmic melody. After listening to the whole EP, this’ll be the track you just can’t shake.
Overall, the EP has a solid feel of Chantal Claret meets ska. The world needs more ballsy female vocalists like this. There’s something oddly inspiring about the attitude Millie sings with that will no doubt have girls everywhere standing up and loving themselves, because if she can ooze this much confidence through four songs, why can’t the rest of us?
Obsession Transgression by Millie Manders
After being a fan of Millie Manders for a while, I was so happy that I got to review her. She defiantly didn’t disappoint with this awesome EP. It has smart lyrics and sick musical structure in the songs and I love the mix of old school ska and a cool clash feel to it. I can hear that Joe strummer was a big influence in her writing. One negative thing is that the recording is not that great but apart from that its awesome! Check out ‘Long Gone’, definitely one of my favourites.
Millie Manders: Obsession Transgression
Title: Obsession Transgression
Format Reviewed: MP3
Format Released: 20th November 2015
Reviewed By: Will Bright
Up Close and Personal – An In-depth Interview with Millie Manders
Posted on September 25, 2014
By Jerryko Crosby for Festival Specs.
Following on from an exceptional performance at Discovery 2 (an organised event showcasing breakthrough new talent), we at Festival Specs decided to catch up on punk ska and pop rock artist, Millie Manders.
The South London born singer initially worked her way to securing a comfortably paid job position; as retail manager for Schuh in Oxford Street. However many things in life are not always what they seem. Such is the case with Millie, as her desire to pursue her real passion eventually lead her to making a bold decision. She swapped the busy life and security of a west end job, for a more daring roller coaster career as a singer/songwriter, that’s taken her all the way from Manchester to Paris.
“At the end of the day I’m very heart on sleeve, and so if something gets to me, then it comes out in my music and It’s my therapy.”
From successful performances at The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival and gigs up and down the country and beyond, to having the track ‘Raw’ featured on the BBC, Millie’s pedigree and talent as a musician is most certainly impressive. With a twitter fan base of over 2,000 followers and rapidly growing, there are no signs of her slowing down either. In this interview, Millie talks about her experiences, motivations and inspirations behind her music as well as future projects.
Being the second born in a family of four sisters, Millie began singing lessons when she was sixteen years old, although her introduction to music in general started long before that.
“I started being trained, classically from five years old on the piano, Clarinet from seven years, and saxophone from twelve. All of that was classical and jazz classical training. I found my voice when I was around fifteen, and that’s when I decided that was the instrument I was going to pursue.”
I asked her what’s been the biggest influence on her music, a question she understandably gets asked a lot. She paused for a moment, then told me that it’s something she finds difficult to define because her background with her parents is so varied.
“It’s about connections and making friendships and key relationships. It’s about how you come across as a person as well as your musical talent.”
I learned that thanks to her mum’s love of music, Millie grew up listening to artists such as Mozart and Gustav Holst, pop and soft rock artists The Carpenters, Rock and Roll Music pioneer Chuck Berry, and Soul/R&B artists such as Aretha Franklin.
She told me that her dad was a lover of 70′s pop/rock, Blues and World Music. He influenced Millie through playing English rock bands such as The Who, The Jam, Sex Pistols, The Ramones, American blues guitarist Walter Trout and singer/pianist, Doctor John the Night Tripper, Camden Town ska band Madness, and The Specials. He also had a keen ear for newer sounds of the 90′s including Cypress Hill, Prodigy and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Millie smiled as she recalled memories of herself and her sisters dancing to records in the lounge room. “I just remember we’d be in the lounge, bouncing and holding on to his (dad) belt and doing crazy dances and stuff, there was always music playing in my house”.
However as she began to grow as an artist, her music style has focused very much in the punk genre and it’s surrounding sub-genres. “Once you start to make choices in the industry you have to go into a niche market because it’s too varied, you can never do everything. And while I love listening to many styles, Punk has moulded me really that’s where I’ve gotten the most enjoyment from.”
Her latest video for the song Little Big Mouth was released at the end of June. Millie very much had her hand in the artistic direction as well as doing the storyboards, an opportunity she relishes. On site shooting took place in Camden and was finished in 3 hours.
I asked her what was the most stressful experience while shooting the video, to which she humorously replied, “I tell you the one thing that did my head in was sewing a weave onto a Unicorns head… So many blisters, so many times did I stab myself with that needle. But it was fun, it was great fun!”
Perhaps contrary to her very warm and positive minded personality, much of Millie’s song writing often deals with topics of heartbreak, abuse, conflict, love stories and occasionally political issues, although for the latter she more often uses and prefers spoken word to bring out her views. “At the end of the day I’m very heart on sleeve, and so if something gets to me, then it comes out in my music and It’s my therapy.”
Upon asking she named some examples. “Little Big Mouth is obviously about some conflict. Being able to be satirical about the situation helped me to let go of it.
A very new track, Hole In Your Chest (no it’s not a reference to a gunshot wound) refers to someone who has an emptiness that stops them from being able to fully commit and connect with someone else because they haven’t yet dealt with their own past rejections, and that ended up affecting me. It helped me come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t my fault or even theirs. The problem is there because they are unable to love someone fully, because they can’t love themselves fully due to the past.”
Dealing with emotional heartbreak and not being able to let go was the motivation behind Millie’s ‘Hole in Your Chest’. Like many of her songs ‘Hole in Your Chest’ is intentionally upbeat and lively, providing an interesting contrast to the tragic but reflective lyrics. “It makes it easier to deal with when you bring some joy in with it, a bit of euphoria.”
I took the opportunity to put Millie on the hot seat and asked her ‘Who do you have a crush on currently or would like to date in the music industry?’ She smiled, and replied “There is someone I like in the music industry. He already knows it, it’s not gonna happen. And I’m not gonna talk about it in an interview. Hahaha! That’s as much information as you’ll get out of me.”
“I’d rather write my music, play my music, enjoy what I’m doing every step of the way and be in the genre that I actually want to be in.”
Just so you know, Millie also admits to being a coffee snob! (aren’t many of us!) She’s very particular about her beverage and hates instant coffee. However she is also addicted to a good ol’fashioned cup of tea!
Moving on I was curious to find out who she would do a duet with. “Reel Big Fish. If they ever let me do a feature with them, I would cry tears of joy. Jason Perry (lead vocalist of band ‘A’), he’s got this incredible unique quality to his voice I would love to work with. Doing an awesome funk ska track with Tom Jones would be phenomenal. And if he was still alive, Ray Charles, like seriously who wouldn’t?”
An audience response during a live performance is certainly something she values. “The idea of playing to 20,000 people in a field and having them sing my song back to me is a very beautiful thought. But equally I love playing in a little pub, and having people come up and have a conversation with me. Nothing beats playing to ten people and two of them coming up and saying, you made their night“.
In regards to vocals, Millie says she’s gleaned inspiration from Gwen Stefani (during her earlier years as vocalist for ska punk band, No Doubt), Skin (from British Band Skunk Anansie), Pink and especially Aretha Franklin who vocally she sees as an aspiration.
Millie is not afraid to admit some of her influences come from contemporary pop artists like Pink as she’s still talented vocally, hot and got great stage presence with an edge, and thinks it’s important to recognise that in general and not feel uncomfortable about it.
What made you go in the first place? I asked. ” I wanted to go, I wanted to understand, I wanted to see the contracts, I wanted to look at what the management type structure was. I wanted to see the kind of people there and all of the producers and the way that it worked. And I can outright say, you will never get me on any reality TV show ever again… But God bless anybody else that wants to go on it. For people that won’t have another chance because they’re not songwriters, just purely vocalists, that’s the perfect platform for them. Because they want someone they can then mould and train, and get them to be amazing by the end of the show. I’d rather write my music, play my music, enjoy what I’m doing every step of the way and be in the genre that I actually want to be in.”
Millie couldn’t stress enough her gratitude to her twitter fanbase “I have really good twitter fans. I played at Greater Manchester Fringe Festival this year, the only reason I played that is because I toured last summer in Manchester, and two of my twitter fans came, and since then they have been campaigning and getting more followers from the area. Truly I am so grateful to all my fans”.
In talking about the industry, she also said it’s about connections and making friendships and key relationships. Either you know someone or you have the money to buy your way in. It’s about how you come across as a person as well as your musical talent. She could never work with people who are talented but are also assholes.
Millie’s background doesn’t only show itself in her music. “I’ve always been a bit of a tom boy. Never really been like dresses and girly girly stuff. Even as a kid I used to scream getting into my Sunday dress. I’ve tried to be a bit more feminine in the last couple of years. I guess 70′s punk, 90′s Hip Hop and all out scruff bag, will probably be my influences. I love baggy jeans, I love Dungarees, Carrot top Denim, rip denim, waistcoats – I love it. It’s influenced, just interpreted in a more feminine way I guess.”
I also see you have a pair of colourful sunglasses from Festival Specs, how did you come across them?
“I was shopping here at Spitafields Market one day with my mum, about 3 or 4 years ago. Festival Specs had just opened up their little stall around here, and they were donating £2 of every purchase to a charity, and I loved it. Mum was like do you want some? Hell yeah I wanted some haha. I’ve kept their lenses ever since. But there was one time this year where I was at a festival called 2000 trees, reviewing the weekend’s bands for The Punk Archive. On the first night myself and a photographer were on a hammock in the forest area, we were just chatting to people around there cos it’s so friendly. Then people randomly started swinging us on the hammock. We went upside down and landed on our backs and I had my grey festival specs with me, both lenses cracked having landed on them. But it was ok because Gigi (owner of Festival Specs) was beautiful enough to bring me a pair of spare lenses to the Discovery 2 event. I love them, they’re so cool, I’ve taken so many selfies with mine on but then if you look at my instagram, selfie queen!”
Millie has just recently become the second lead vocalist of the band, Snare. She will be lending her characteristic vocals to some of their existing material, in an upcoming live gig in Gloucester on the 27th September. They will also be supporting the dub-ska punk band, Popes of Chillitown.
She’s also confirmed for a gig in Paris on the 13th November with the possibility of a couple more around that date.
Skype Gig Series: Part I, Perspectives from a Spectator/Fan
23 September 2014 By Rania M M Watts 3 Comments
My name is Rania Watts; I am a Freelance Writer with Cheeky Promo I shall now be contributing to the Music Gateway blog, so here’s a quick introduction! For this, my first Music Gateway assignment, I will be writing a series on the benefits of Skype/Google Hangout gigs from three different perspectives. Part one is that of a spectator/fan, part two explores the direct impact on the performer and part three will examine on a whole what it means for the future of the music industry.
I am quite thrilled by this writing opportunity, thank you for reading,
Rania M M Watts – you can also read my personal blog here.
Part I, Perspectives from a Spectator/Fan
August 17, 1990 at the CNE Grandstand in Toronto, Ontario was the location and date of my very first concert, I was 16 years old and relished the thought of listening to Sinead O’Connor sing LIVE! Specifically, this concert experience surpassed my wildest dreams. To be part of a collective, listening to an incredible artists showcasing to the world why their existence is meant for the stage. A million lighters rose in unison sustaining an exquisite sight during “Feel so different.” I never thought in a million years that I would ever compare a concert experience like that to a simple Skype performance for a party of one.
Some months back, I entered a contest for a Skype gig that the tenacious, stunning and profound Millie Manders had put together on her Facebook page. In the back of my mind, I’d wished and hoped that I would be the recipient of this tremendous gift that was being offered. First off, you should know that I NEVER win anything! EVER! To have won this unique gift meant an immense amount to my essence.
My perspective has since been altered desiring to educate myself on the possibility and potential of our modern technology and all that it affords society. Artists can connect directly with their fans through private concerts — so private in fact that it is simply a party of two. One on a random roof in London England and another in their Pickering Ontario Canada home up in the attic both on their respective devices communicating, laughing, tearing up and most of all immersing ones self with incredible music.
I am delighted to announce that my prize was collected on Thursday September 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. A one-to-one Skype gig really provides the recipient an opportunity to be in an intimate environment with the performer/musician/artist. Every single detail, from the way Millie’s hair fell across her face, to the constant expression from her twinkling eyes with each new piece performed, hoop earring that would move in unison with her words and music. My apartment was consumed with an impassioned light for the entire hour. I was transfixed on every single note and strum that came whilst she accompanied herself on the ukulele, completely mesmerised that I was sitting in front of this not only incredible human being but a tremendously talented musician – a moment that I would have delightfully blown my speakers for!!!
At one point, Millie’s music was so emotive; I felt it necessary to grab a lighter from the knickknack shelf behind me – this was one time in my life that I was COMPLETELY present, similar to the Sinead O’Connor concert save the fact; this was a Skype Gig for one. Do you know what it is like to look into the eyes of someone who is doing exactly what they are meant to be doing on this globe – while you are the only one in the room witnessing it? I can tell you from experience it is quite the powerful moment indeed.
I would like to furnish all of you with the track list Millie prepared specifically for my Skype gig which includes: Nothing Matters, Little Big Mouth, Brown Eyed Girl ~ Van Morrison, Thorough Bread Potato Head, Paper Castles, Hole in your Chest, Drown, Drop Dead Gorgeous ~ Republica & Demon. Millie can be followed on social media via, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube & Soundcloud.
I am now curious to research on a grander scale how these intimate gigs could really change the entire concept of traditional concerts providing focus on the individual who is being catered to during a similar performance. In this day and age, we rely so much on computers and social media that we are not focused on the splendid things that they genuinely offer us such as connecting with likeminded individuals from all over world, sharing experiences, collaborating on whatever suits ones fancy. In this case, I am fortunate to also have interwoven aspects of music and writing within this specific scenario.
Now, I will leave you with Millie’s most recent release on MP3 “Little Big Mouth” available for purchase on iTunes.
Thanks to Rania for this great article! Make sure to check out the final 2 installments to this Skype series coming soon…
Cement Covered Quills
|Posted on September 3, 2014 at 5:50 AM|
Growing up, I was constantly enamoured by coloured eyes; I found it quite unfair that mine were boring-old-hum-drum-brown! That was a fact until I immersed my senses inMillie Manders’ cover of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. Now, I can genuinely appreciate the hues of my optics and am overwhelmed by expressions of glee and gratitude. Thus, a spark ignited in my cerebellum to commence a search for any-and-all-things Millie!
Millie a singer/songwriter from London, United Kingdom who houses such a stainable, powerful and emotive voice. Most recently, Millie released an original single where the lyrics and music rival each other for an exceptionally merry, quirky upbeat composition that will leave whoever is listening to “Little Big Mouth” with a warm jovial emotion of desiring to dance and move throughout their core. Should you fancy purchasing “Little Big Mouth” it is currently available for purchased through eitherAmazon or iTunes.
Millie Manders, Little Big Mouth, 2014
Not only is Millie consumed with talent but also a particular sense of humility, integrity and solid work ethic which has rendered Millie on a track all the way to every single super nova in our galaxy.
Millie Manders, 2014
Rania: How long have you been performing?
Millie: I don’t remember exactly how old I was for my first performance. I think I was around 5. I remember being in theatre in local productions with dance schools and things from around the age of 5. I played instruments from then but I also did ballet and tap from a young age. I didn’t start singing as a career choice until I was 15 but had done things like school choirs and parts in local theatre musical productions before that. I guess I’ve always wanted to be on stage in some capacity!!
Rania: What is the first song you’ve ever written and how did you bring it to the masses?
Millie: The first sone I remember writing was about unicorns, so that definitely never ‘made it to the masses’! Haha! The first song I wrote and ended up performing with a band was called Barren Lands. I was 15 when I wrote it but performed it for the first time two years later. I still use it in the set sometimes!
Rania: What is The Punk Archive and how did you first get involved with it?
Millie: The Punk Archive is currently a blogspot for reviews and interviews of bands within the punk and alt genres of music. We review live and recorded material as well as live events such as festivals.
I got involved with the archive initially because I was trying to help some friends (The Ghouls) get some press for their debut album “Ten Thousand Words On”. The editor, Dan, asked me if I would like to write the review. I decided to see if it was something I could do and would enjoy. That was only in April this year but it feels like I’ve been part of the team for so much longer – so much has happened since then!
Rania: What have you learnt from being an active participant of The Punk Archive?
Millie: That’s a very interesting question… I think it’s more about what I have experienced, the people I have met and the writing skills I am obtaining through understanding how to create interesting pieces when you are essentially writing about the same thing over and over again. Each piece of music you listen to is unique, but language can sometimes be limiting. Becoming creative in a whole new way has, and is a continual curve. A wonderful curve at that.
The people I have met have been amazing – the musicians, other writers, photographers – yes, some of them have become contacts, but a great deal of them have become fast friends. I have also had the opportunity to go to amazing gigs and festivals and interview some infinitely interesting and lovely people.
Rania: What other posts do you have in the music industry?
Millie: I occasionally write biographies and press releases for other artists. I also have a bi monthly event in Norwich to showcase awesome local talent in that area, and introduce London acts into the scene. I’ll basically do anything that involves helping great musicians out, or means that I get to be involved musically myself. Being immersed in music is to be happy as far as I am concerned.
Millie Manders, Little Big Mouth, CD Art Cover. 2014
Rania: Where does your inspiration for your songs come from?
Millie: All over. I’ve dreamed songs, written them on buses, people watching, conflict, love, family, everyday experiences. Anywhere! Haha!
Rania: Who would your dream gig be with and why?
Millie: Ooooooh now this really is hard. There are so many musicians that I think are amazing. I think because I am so ska punk oriented top ones would include Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and No Doubt (If they were still together and still in the Kingdom phase or previous) I’d also love to play on a stage with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or, again if they were still together, Skunk Anansie. No Doubt, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Skunk Anansie because each of them have strong, vocally talented women fronting them, each with a unique and brilliant voice. The others because I bloomin’ love them and love their music. I’ve followed and gone to as many gigs as possible since the late 90’s. They rock my World.
Rania: What advice would you give an emerging singer/songwriter based on your experience in the music industry?
Millie: Do away with any glamorous ideas about people doing anything for you. “Rolling crew deep” no longer exists. Nor do golden handshake record deals, limos to radio stations or mega bucks in your account from touring unless you can get Madonna style famous and still be independent.
Do not think “I want to be famous”. Ground yourself in the love of your art and be prepared to give up EVERYTHING for it. I mean everything. You will eat 7p cans of beans on 30p loaves of bread and you won’t be buying any new clothes. All your money will go into touring and promotion. Believe me when I say touring is the most incomprehensibly expensive venture you will ever undertake.
Be a good person. Be nice to everyone you meet – even the arse holes. There are lots. Advertise yourself and engage with your fan base. They are the people who will come to your gigs, buy your t shirt and download your track. If they like your music that’s great.
If they don’t think you care about them, they will forget about you, and do you know what? You’d deserve it because they are spending their time, money and effort to support you. Being good to them by way of gratitude, conversation and recognition is the least you can do.
After all of this, there is still no guarantee you will make it. Be satisfied with the idea that you can die in the knowledge that you did everything in your power to be successful. Not famous, successful.
Millie Manders, 2014
Rania: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being an independent music artist?
Millie: Time management and organisation are key. The really difficult thing though is not having a representative. A lot of the time once you get to a certain level, people want to speak to a manager or agent. Getting a manager or agent that firstly you get on with really well on a business level and secondly is as passionate about your music as you are is a process. They also need to have the right contacts in the sector of the industry you want to go into. It takes time, patience and research on both parts.
Rania: Are you a self-taught musician?
Millie: No. I was classically trained on the clarinet, saxophone and vocally. I started to teach myself ukulele and got a couple of preliminary lessons before carrying on. Thankfully I have always been lucky enough to find picking up a new instrument relatively easy. I feel blessed for that.
Rania: What instruments do you play?
Millie: Currently just the uke, but I am learning guitar and I have just ordered my first clarinet reeds in more than a decade. Time to go back to my roots I think. Keys are next on the list!
Rania: Do you have any rituals before you begin writing your pieces?
Millie: In short, no. Sorry! No mysterious, magical methods I’m afraid, but I do have to really want to write unless it’s something that’s already banging against my skull trying to get out!
Rania: All artists experience a creative block in one way or another. How do you contend with yours?
Millie: I don’t. I let it be. There is no point in forcing creativity. I have had to learn that the hard way. Forcing my art often results in something contrived. I’d rather stop and go back to it. I do find that going to an amazing concert or working with someone else on material can help though because it is fresh inspiration.
Rania: Which video of yours was your absolute favourite to make and why?
Millie: Definitely Little Big Mouth so far. I think it’s the best one yet. It was so much fun. The people I worked with were all so amazing and I think it really reflects a lot about me as an artist and a person; bizarre, fun loving, party crazy and that I have a dark side same as everyone else. We are all flawed.
Rania: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now in the music industry?
Millie: Try not to project a future image of myself too much. I would like to be an international musician with a band of wonderful, hardworking friends and a crew of trustworthy, hardworking team members who are also good friends. I would like to earn enough to live, but also enough for specific projects to help others. There are a few I have in mind and I truly hope I am able to fulfill those in the not too distant future.
Rania: At what age did you know that this is what you wanted to do for a living?
Millie: Soon as I found my voice I knew what I wanted to do.
Rania: My favourite question, if you had a superhuman power what would it be?
Millie: As much as I have joked with people about this and come up with several answers, I genuinely think my honest answer at this point in time is I don’t want one. If it was healing, where would you draw the line? At what point would it be damaging to the World to keep people alive? If it was sonic vibrations, if I got angry, would I kill someone? That split second between anger and hurt could mean everything. Any super power could be amazing, but with every human being so emotionally fragile, could any of us trust ourselves to be controlled enough not to abuse it even once?
I guess, if there were such a thing, I would like it to be the ability to change someone’s heart so they might see the true beauty in everyone around them. The World would be a whole lot nicer if every human on the planet could truly do that.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
The latest piece of musical goodness to find its way into the kennel is the new release and video by Singer/Songwriter and Ukulele player extraordinaire Millie Manders.
Having met the effervescent Millie Manders at the Ralph’s Life All Day Charity gig in Proud Camden it seemed like the release of ‘Little Big Mouth’ was as good a time as any to ask a few questions and see how and why her music matches her outgoing personality.
Ralph: The new video is catchy, quirky and in your face…how much does that reflect your personality?
Millie: I think it reflects me well. I’ve never been the one to ‘fit in’. Apparently I’ve been carving my own crazy paving path since I could walk- according to my parents any way!
Millie: Music is a continual influence. I write reviews for The Punk Archive so I always have something new in my head. My preferences are underground hip hop and punk genres but I listen to anything. I’ve just reviewed an amazing nu punk band called Riskee and the Ridicule but I also recently pledged for the new K-Flay album (awesome indie/hip hop) and I am really enjoying Dan Le sac vs Scroobius Pip‘s latest record.
Millie: Yes all the time. Being hurt is a wonderful motivation for music so a lot of my bad experiences are in my lyrics – I use it as a therapy. I also use people watching, politics and other things too though. I love to “write what I see” as well as what I feel.
Millie: I wanted to expand my musical experience. I started on instruments, and I often get frustrated by being able to sing a melody but not relate it back to chord sequences, so Uke was a good choice for me. I’ve been able to translate the skills to the guitar, it’s really good for ska and calypso songs, diversifies my sound and ticks the boxes for song writing too.
Millie: Live! Live live live!! I love being on stage. Recording is great because I get to reach more of my friends and fans who can’t get to gigs, but there is nothing like feeding off of and giving back energy to your band, your audience and your soul! I love bouncing around and relating the emotions of each song out into the ether. Seeing people enjoying it with you, singing along, feeling your pain/joy/frustration… Nothing beats that.
Millie: Neither. Ha ha! I very rarely touch food like that. I’m a raw vegetables and fruit fiend. Sugar snap peas are one o the most awesome things on God’s green earth! If I really crave naughty stuff it’s usually chocolate, biscuits or crisps.
Millie: I’m playing a fair amount outside of London too – I try to hit a different town once a month, so in the next few I’ve got Kent, Manchester, Wales and Norwich… Looking at another return to Birmingham soon too! Truth be told the place I really want to get to is America. Warped Tour is like the ultimate dream….
Millie: I am definitely looking at an album. Funding can be a huge problem in this game, but with careful planning I’m hoping to get an album out at the beginning of next year. Prior to that I’ll be looking to get a full band demo out as a give-away/promo tool.
Millie: BAND! More fun, more energy, more ROAR!!
Millie: Neither. Sorry, I’d rather pull my eyes out. Sports to me is like paint drying only the workers are over paid.
Millie: I actually got headhunted for X Factor 2013. I followed it through to really see how it worked from the inside. It’s not something i ever would have pursued without being asked but it was good to see if my suspicions were true.
I hated it before. I loathe it now. I’ll never do it again. There’s so many musicians, myself included, that work so hard to perfect their skills, hone their style and deliver quality, unique music.
All those shows want are quick fix, R’n’B or Pop one hit wonders to line the pockets of the creators and work the “artists” to the bone for almost minimum wage. It’s an ugly price to pay for minimal amounts of time in a very dodgy, contrived spot light…. Now let me tell you how I really feel, yeah?
Dotty View: Millie Manders
The first thing that struck me about Millie Manders is her unique voice – it’s rich and sultry, strong and smooth. There’s no-one I can think of who sounds like her, or who she sounds like. Her voice isn’t the only thing that is unusual – the accompanying music is an intriguing mix of jazz, folk, soul and pop. That’s not something that can easily pulled off, but Millie’s done it with a confidence that is indeed a rare find.
Her first EP, Demon, was released in April 2013, and I can’t understand why it’s not yet been caught by a rising wave of interest. One thing I don’t get about music is why the more generic music seems to achieve critical acclaim, leaving the more brave, personal, interesting music behind. I really hope this doesn’t happen to Millie. More importantly, I hope she doesn’t let it happen! She’s got the makings of a successful musician, and I’d love to be there saying “I told you so!” when she is more widely recognised!
I’m not usually into spoken word in a song, but I really enjoy listening to Thoroughbred Potato Head – it’s amusing, characterful, and Millie’s accent is just fab. Works for me!
My favourite song I’ve heard so far is Raw – a staccato lyric with minimal percussion and lovely acoustic guitar, it’s different and fun.
Millie’s got the following gig dates coming up:
14th February: Zoo, Claremont Pier, Lowestoft
27th February: The Bedford, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
9th March: The Blueberry, Norwich – DAY TIME EVENT
29th March: The Brook, Wallington, Surrey
9th April: The Bedford, Balham, London
14th May: Number 90, Hackney Wick, London
31st May: Angel Fest, Tonbridge, Kent – FULL BAND
21st June: Demelza Go Dotty Week, Tonbridge, Kent – FULL BAND
I recommend that you give Millie’s music a listen, and grab a copy of her EP – I’m certain you won’t regret it, and predict you’ve not heard the last of her!
Millie is as off the wall off the stage as she is on it. A bubbly and bright singer songwriter from South London she writes punchy, punky, bouncy rock pop songs that get you on your feet and moving.
Scratch the surface though and lyrically her tough upbringing and life experiences can be felt too.
A songwriter of our times she can have you jumping up and down and grinning like a fool with songs like Thoroughbred Potato Head, or bring you to your knees emotionally with heartfelt ballads like Demon. If you haven’t listened yet, you need to!
We met Millie on the last leg of the brought to you tour at Proud Camden in London. Brought To You is a COOLective of unsigned Artists who organised their own UK tour. We followed them throughout the summer tour.
Can you start by telling us about your background?
I was born in Chertsey, Surrey, but grew up in Lowestoft on the East Coast until I was 17. My Mum was a firm believer in allowing her children to try out as many hobbies as possible. She worked over time in abundance to fund all our endeavours!
I managed to learn ballet, tap and modern dance, figure skating, horse riding and hockey to name a few. Musically it was the same. I started playing recorder and piano when I was five, but decided I would rather play clarinet when I turned seven.
At 11 I passed my grade five exam and took up saxophone while I was at it. At 14 I gave up my instruments and at 15 found my voice, although my mother will tell you I was singing through my food in my high chair.
What music were you listening to while growing up and how does it differ from what you perform today?
The musical influences I had as a child were hugely varied. My Mum subscribed to two magazine series; one was rhythm and blues, the other was classical music. This meant I was listening to Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and James Brown then Holst, Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Beethoven.
My Dad on the other hand loved rock, ska and discovering new bands. He introduced me to Blondie, The Clash, The Who, The Jam, then once 1990 came around he was buying the first albums from Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Cyprus Hill and Prodigy.
I think there is a fair amount of all of these influences still in my music. I am a classically trained singer who writes lyrics and melodies not just for my solo projects but also for people who write hip hop and dance tracks too. I like to think that my musical roots have set me up nicely to be able to create sounds that are both eclectic and relatable.
You released your debut EP ‘Demon’ on April 29th can you tell us the tone and success of the album so far?
For me I believe the EP has been successful. In terms of sales I have only sold a couple of hundred since April, but the connections I have made, the journey of musical self discovery and the opportunity to use it as a promotional tool has been wonderful.
I know there are people who stream my music on Spotify and Soundcloud and that is good enough for me! I’d love to earn a living through music, but for now I will settle for the messages from people telling me they enjoy my music and the gigs that have come about as a result.
Hopefully the rest will happen too!
Do you write all your own material, what inspires you?
I write all my lyrics and melodies. My guitarist, Davide Nayuguhora often comes up with a guitar riff that I write to, so some of my material is co written in that sense. So many things inspire me – song writing for me isn’t always a sit-and-think-of-something thing – sometimes it is a simple as I have a tune in my head.
I am always jotting down lyrics or singing snippets of tunes into my voice recorder on my phone. The tracks on the EP range from poking fun at self-conscious fashionistas to heartbreak to being manipulated and controlled. I like to be as free as I can with my song writing – it’s more fun that way.
How did you get involved in the Brought To You Tour?
Nakisha Esnard and I had played a gig together for The 15 Minute Club at All Star Lanes in Holborn a few months before. When she started planning the tour she contacted Davide and I to see if we would like to join in.
What have you learned most about being on tour?
Communication is key. Whether it with the promoter, the people you are touring with or the fans in the areas you are going to, KEEP TALKING. I knew that anyway, but being on tour definitely highlighted it to me.
Without good communication plans can be waylaid, misunderstandings can turn into unnecessary relationship rifts and fans can forget you exist.
That’s not to say that anything adverse happened on tour! Far from it, but I could certainly see how things might have gone awry.
What have been the highs and lows of bringing a tour together as artists with no management?
Management generally have industry contacts. They will also be able to speak on an artist’s behalf to negotiate better deals and conditions. It is also the management’s responsibility to source ways of promoting their artist as it is in their interests financially to do so.
As unsigned, unmanaged artists we were booking, negotiating, promoting and gigging all at the same time. Totally exhausting!
However, the experience has broadened our knowledge of how a tour works. It has got us all a stronger fan base, more opportunities and contacts with promoters all over the UK.
We all agreed that the tour was for that specifically – monetary gain was secondary.
Where can we find you performing?
I will be performing for Rock Against Violence on November 20th at the O2 Islington, Bar Solo in Camden on the 27th, The Six In One Club in Tonbridge on the 30th November and The Blueberry on December 22nd.
Other dates are currently being added and will be up on my website very soon.
What are you currently working on?
My next project is my Christmas single ‘A Lonely Little Christmas’ being released on November 25th. I am giving the proceeds to a charity called Walking With The Wounded a charity dedicated to re educating and rehabilitating physically and mentally wounded soldiers, giving them the medical assistance they need and tools to get into to long term employment.
I’m also looking at releasing my next EP in the New Year, and I’m in talks with the tour buddies about The Brought To You Tour 2014.
What do you do to unwind?
I’m not sure I know how to (Laughs)! Dinner and a movie is probably as close as I come to unwinding, but even then I often find I am itching to send an email or write a song. I’m terrible for it!
Connect with Millie Manders
Photography by www.facebook.com/jonselfphotography
Millie Manders with her very own Demon…
by CRUSTY TOON on Oct 9, 2013 • 4:39 am
Look around the Bloggersphere and you will find multitudes of posts about quality independant bands. Look a little deeper and you will see a large majority are about bunches of blokes, rocking it out (I sound like my Mother) Or dudes with synths playing with clicks and whrrrrrrrrs (I like clicks and wrrrrrrrrs a lot)
Maybe its just me not reading the “right” blogs but theres a lack of quality female artists getting the kudos and promotion they richly deserve. Today on The Barton Quandary lets hopefully put a little of the imbalance right by introducing you to Millie Manders.
Millie has recently been touring up and down the UK to promote her beautifully poignant and chatchy EP Demon. I managed to have one of my strange email conversations with the very likeable and witty Ms Manders at the end of her current tour. But before we get there…..
I first came across Millie when I was listening to the Mr Peeps podcasts for my recent post on TBQ (click here to read)
The post featured the single Raw which is taken from Millie’s EP Demon. The way Manders punches out the words to Raw reminded me of the young Kate Nash on her first album. Infectiously catchy and evocative lyrics describing the raw feelings and emotions springing from a sexual impulse / desire / need. (hence the name of the single i guess, great deduction there Steve…… HA-HA)
I wanted to listen to more after hearing the single. To be honest, I half expected to hear more of the same type of track Raw was. I was pleasantly surprised. Demon is a fantastic collection of tracks which represent immaculately the range and talent this young singer/songwriter.
The honest and touching lyrics in the title track made haste working their way into my conciousness. So much in fact, I woke up with them floating around in my head. All to soon I was commiting them to an unjust rendition with my sad attempt to sing along.
The biggest surprise though was another clip I found on YouTube. I came across a cover Millie has done of the James Brown classic “I Feel Good” A beautiful acoustic jazz version. What a range his woman has. Smokey and sultry. I was lucky enough to see a young Sia Furler performing in the pubs of Adelaide in her very first band. A jazz band called Crisp, and hearing this track instantly transported me back to the Austral in Rundle Street. I just have to share it with you here.
Hey there Millie…..What has been happening this last couple of weeks for you?
Hi Steve! The last couple of weeks have been all about the tour and the promotion of the end of tour party. It’s been amazing fun!!
So touring has been high on the agenda for you. Got a Bedford Band?
I will be perfectly honset with you, I’m not sure I would know what a Bedford band was if it sat on my face…. So I’m going to say no. Just in case.
How many ppl in the Millie touring party?
I have been touring with my guitarist, but the brought to you collective has been anything from five to fifteen people depending on the gig and the availability of the backing bands.
Got any special requests that you cant do without in the backroom??
Haha! I wish I could say something really interesting here, like “A large tank of tropical fish for relaxation” or “exactly 300 blue roses in 60 vases placed strategically around the room” but the facts are as long as I have plenty of water, enough money to feed myself and somewhere to crash, I am happy.
Any little superstitions. Fav pair of undies you like to wear? LOL…I did warn you
Again, pretty boring here, although I have recently aquired a friend by the name of Jeff the Dragon. A sand filled mascott for my amusement. You can find him on twitter. He’s WAY more of a diva than I am. @Jeff_The_Dragon
Does @Jeff_The_Dragon follow back?….this is gonna get him a heap more followers #teamfollowback……. Probably more than me LOL. (Not hard!!)
Raw, instantly reminded me of Kate Nash, the way to you punch the lyrics out, coupled with a lovely sexy tune. Which singers /artists have influenced Millie Manders
There are so many!! So I don’t write an essay I’ll try to narrow down my choices. Skin from Skunk Anansie has an amazing range, the ability to go from a scream to a pure falsetto note in the blink of an eye and exudes more energy than the Duracell Bunny.
Aretha Franklin has amazing strength in her voice and seamless transition between head and chest voices – almost indistinguishable.
Gwen Stefani commands a stage and oozes sexuality, delivering a dramatic, storytelling performance as well as being one of the hottest rock chicks around… Those are probably the top three but there are so many more in so many genres.
It’s always easier to write a song about tough experiences; “Poems are my therapy, And love has been my flame, If I didn’t have a broken heart, I’d never write again” Having said that, I have been trying to write positive songs recently, and without giving too much away, i should have one around fairly soon!
Do you specifically sit down to write material, or does a tune / melody just pop into your head and you write then?
Song writing for me happens in a variety of ways. Sometimes a full blown song – lyrics, instrumentation, the lot is in my head instantly and easily translated. I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night with snatches of melody or lyrics and record a voice not (I keep my phone next to my pillow partly for this reason)Other times I will be given a guitar riff from Davide or start a new song and it will take months to finish.
I read a letter you wrote to AMBY which was posted on that site. Music has been in your life as a passion from a very young age. Were your parents musical?
My mother played the flute, but not at a professional level. My Dad has always loved music and both parents exposed us to as many different genres as possible, and worked really hard to make sure that if we wanted to try something new as a hobby, we could.
Was it a big step to leave the comfort of a band, or did you see it as a natural progression
I didn’t really have much choice! My band entered into a dodgy contract which cost us five years of legally gaining the music back, and meant our fan base withered and died. The best way to come back was to rebrand. Going acoustic was the best decision as it has meant I have been able to tour with far more ease, and my fans have been able to engage with me any my music at a much more personal level. It’s been a wonderful experience, but I am looking forward to using my band a bit more next year!!
Ive seen some live footage from one of your recent gigs in Manchester. What feelings do being on stage bring to you…. It seems so much more than just the songs from what ive seen….
I love being on stage. I love communicating each song through dance, expressionism and voice. I love interacting with my audience and inviting them to join in with me. There is no better reward than knowing that you have entertained people, made them laugh or cry or feel moved in any way. There are very few things I could say I love more.
How did you meet and connect with your guitarist Davide
I was 21 and returning from South Africa after living there for a few months. I wanted to find a band and get straight back into performing. Davide was looking for a singer and I found his ad in the Free Ads paper. He didn’t want a song writer at the time, but we worked so well together I eventually ended up writing all the lyrics and melodies.
Every been mistaken for anyone famous…..like Johnny Cash?
No I haven’t. I think I’m fairly glad of that too. I’d much rather be considered unique, although I have been likened to various celebrities over the years. Usually whichever brunette, brown eyed one that happens to have media focus at the time… hahaha!!!
What is next in store for Millie Manders???
We are already looking at the next tour, and I am hoping to release a Christmas single, with profits going to the charity Walking With The Wounded at the end of November.
Why Walking With The Wounded, what is the connection?
Both my Grandfathers served in World War Two. On my fathers side, Les Manders was a computer operator. On my mothers side, John Ellery started on the front line, serving in Africa, and then in the Royal Air Force. While neither were injured, and both survived I have the utmost respect for those who lay down their lives for a cause they believe in.
Walking With The Wounded aim to bring positivity and respite to those who have been badly injured on the front line by making activities accessible to them. Everything from mountain hiking to kayaking. I love the fact they refuse to have a doom and gloom attitude and look to directly affect the life of each person rather than just chuck money and hope things will be better.
News to hand, Millie has just announced that there is more touring in the early new year. So if you want to connect to a fantastic performer get in touch with Millie to find out where and when…….If you would like this bright light of entertainment to come to your town, city or living room contact her, she is a delightful accessible (and no im not flirting ffs HA-HA) .