Songwriting and professional music double major Alma Blum sat down to interview Micki Miller ahead of the Signature Series show honoring the music of both Miller and Ariana Grande.
By Alma Blum
Micki Miller: Who is she? An underground-music sensation, Micki has stolen the hearts of thousands with her soul-clenching music and inspiring lyrics. She is an advocate for love and strength, which has propelled the project of the Micki Miller Ensemble at Berklee into the spotlight.
So where did she come from? How has she made a name for herself? Why can’t we get enough of her?
Let’s start from the beginning. The quality that has impressed everyone so far is how dedicated and consistent she is with her work. Having released five different projects since 2013 and featuring in DJ Jazzy Jeff’s PlayList Retreat, this R&B/Soul artist is quickly making her mark onto the music industry. As a female, she has become a beacon of hope, letting other young female artists know that it is possible to lead with pure talent and survive. Micki Miller hasn’t broken that stride yet, and I don’t think she plans to do so anytime soon.
The incredible musician has also been born and raised with musical influences. Her brother (YPJ Miller) is a Grammy-nominated gospel artist, having toured with Eric Roberson and Dave Hollister. There are also countless generations of musicians in her family. If we are really going to start from the beginning, we need to take it back to church. Having grown up in a heavy church environment as well, she became fluent in piano through church services. During her interview with Goshen News, she explains how challenging it had been learning the piano. “In my opinion, it’s one of the most difficult things to play at church because . . . you gotta know how to play in every key . . . you gotta know how to follow up . . . you don’t really learn theory first.” (Geoff Lesar, The Goshen News).
So why is Berklee so obsessed with her? I mean, we dedicated a whole performance for her that will be opening its doors on March 7th at 8 PM (yes, I threw in an advertisement don’t hate me). Fortunately, I was able to score an interview with the legend herself! This past year I have been in communication with Micki Miller and all I can say is her personality shines through her music. So sweet and honest, she is the most down to earth artist I have ever met. It was an honor speaking with her, and getting to know her better is just icing on the cake.
1. You’ve been in the music scene for quite some time now. What have been some of the most outstanding moments during your musical career?
Micki Miller: “There have been so many cool things that have happened that I am so honored by, but finding out about the Micki Miller Ensemble at Berklee and being part of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s PlayList Retreat are both two things that have inspired me beyond words.”
“You have an obligation to yourself to control the air you breathe. Self care is so important.” —Micki Miller
2. All your songs have such strong messages and meanings behind them. What is your process when creating music? Do you write from experience, or from the experiences of others?
Miller: “I personally don’t have a set process when creating. There are times I sit at a piano and write, or listen to a track and come up with concepts. There are times that I hum a melody or short idea in a voice memo recording. It honestly just depends on what works authentically at the moment. If it feels forced or I find myself having a difficult time executing my vision for a song or track, I typically let go of the idea all together or come back to it at a later time. More times than not, creating music is a great way to exhale for me, so the thing I tend to write about are almost always personal life experiences or things that I have gone through very closely with someone else. It is very important to me that my music be true to my life and my journey, so that when a person related to my music, they are in fact relating to me.”
3. What is some advice you can give to artists who are just starting out? How have you kept such an even mind while dealing with the music industry? Especially as a female, it is so inspirational to see a strong woman like yourself gaining the kind of success that you have worked for.
Miller: “My advice . . . is to trust the process. Anything worth having will come with a journey. And sometimes while on that journey, you will have doubts, let-downs and detours, but a journey you are supposed to be on will also have great accomplishments and opportunities as well, and will always be worth it in the end. I believe that energy and vibes are everything and if you want to have control over your mind and heart, you must control what you expose your mind and heart to. Over time I’ve realized that certain people, places, and things carry energies that either contribute to making you better or making you worse. You have an obligation to yourself to control the air you breathe. Self care is so important.”
“It is very important to me that my music be true to my life and my journey, so that when a person related to my music, they are in fact relating to me.” —Micki Miller
4. How did you get into music? Was your childhood always filled with influences, or did you find it on your own?
Miller: “My mother was a gospel recording artist and also played the piano. She instilled music in my siblings and I at a very young age. We all played and sang at my father’s church growing up, and still do. A lot of my extended family played multiple instruments, sang and produced music. So as a kid, being surrounded by that, naturally gives you a desire to want to learn. I remember going to studio sessions as a kid and being intrigued to want to do that same thing one day.”
Miller: “Through the PlayList Retreat, I’ve had an opportunity to create with and/or enjoy live studio jam sessions with some of my very favorite artists and DJs, such as Moonchild, DJ Spinna, DJ Khalil, Masego, Mac Ayres, and so many more. But outside of the PlayList family, I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating and/or creating with Yebba, Alissia Benveniste, and MonoNeon. I would love to produce a song vocally and musically for H.E.R., but it has always been a dream to work with Jay-Z.”
6. If you could describe music with one word, what would it be and why?
Miller: “Water . . . simply because of its ability to heal.”
Micki Miller is the kind of artist that comes around with the ability to change lives. Musically, spiritually and intellectually. It is an honor to watch your music be showcased the way it deserves. Keep allowing your energy to influence and shine because honestly, we all need a little bit of Micki Miller in our lives.
A NYC-based artist and writer, Alma Blum grew up in Queens, New York. Always having dreamed of pursuing a career in music, Alma currently studies at Berklee as a songwriting and music business dual major. Under her music blog Natural Soul Rhythm, she has interviewed artists such as Micki Miller and Jayla Darden, as well as gained a position on Sony Music’s press list.