Perth-born singer, Mia Milan, has just released her debut single, I Won’t Cry. She speaks with BOB GORDON about launching a pop career in Melbourne, via Rome and Stockholm.
Mia Milan was born to an Italian family and it was a love of ‘60s music from that part of the world that saw her enrolling in singing and dancing schools around Perth from an early age. Keen to learn more about her own heritage and to develop her songwriting in line with it, she went to Italy in 2012.
“I was teaching singing part-time,” she recalls, “and I just quit everything and moved to Rome with one bag. What spurred that on is that I went on a holiday to Italy and I auditioned for this really big TV show called Amici which is basically an X-Factor or The Voice equivalent. I auditioned and I told them I was living in Italy – which I wasn’t, it was just a joke really – and they said they wanted me to come back for a second audition.
“So that’s what spurred me to move. I was there for a year-and-a-half in Rome and I wrote and recorded with heaps of different Italian producers, with Boyd (Wilson, co-writer) as well, and we moved all around Italy doing these festivals, and I was on lots of different TV shows there.”
Milan lasted four months on Amici, affording her a myriad of television and festival appearances around Italy.
“It was great,” she notes, “I’d always dreamt of being on Italian TV or in Europe somewhere. I eventually moved to Milan because I was working with some management and some labels because that’s where the hub of that is. I sang for this lady called Caterina Caselli who was this big ‘60s Italian singer and she now owns her own label with Andrea Bocelli, so I got to do a showcase for her which was just wonderful.”
Even so, with the Italian experience under her belt, the singer moved to Stockholm to embrace the vibrant pop music industry there. More gigs and co-writing sessions followed, before Milan fulfilled a long-time ambition to move to Melbourne, to use the lessons she’d learnt to embark on a pop career in Australia.
“After coming back from Europe I though that it really felt like the right time to come back, then settle in Melbourne and use what I’ve got. I wanted to bring my pop music into the Australian music world.
“Living in Europe, especially at the start on my own, I grew up quickly. I learnt about pop music and how important it is. There is some great pop music in Australia that’s not in the mainstream music scene of Australia. Pop, even though it’s fun, is incredibly hard to get right. I felt like I learnt a lot about pop music, so when I came back I felt ready and I thought, ‘now it’s time’.
In the last month Milan has released her debut single and video for the track, I Won’t Cry, with some airplay and online attention coming along nicely. She’s putting together a band for some live shows that will showcase her pop focus.
“It’s mainly going to be drums and synth and me,” she explains. “It’s not going to be a conventional band, so there will be lots of the synth sounds that I use in the tracks. I want to try and inject some pop music into the scene and get people dancing.
“My music is always changing too, so you’ve got to see what people react to and what they like. You can also do stripped down versions of songs, I play the ukulele in my acoustic stuff, and you can see how those reactions change. Either way my music is happy, sometimes the acoustic versions can be more truthful, but generally my music remains happy as I’m not a dark person.”
Milan co-writes with Boyd Wilson, remembered from such WA bands as The Kind and The Living Daylights in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
“We’re in partnership so he produces the tracks and we write together,” she says. “Sometimes I write, sometimes he writes. I love the way he writes, he’s got that ‘60s feel like The Beatles and he writes great melodies, and us together… it just really works.”
Following on from the single, Milan is keen to release an EP and get on with touring. It’s time to get busy, there’s a lot to do.
“I’ve got so many songs that are just sitting and waiting to come out that I’m really happy with,” she notes. “So an EP is definitely on the cards soon, maybe another single in another month or so. I just really want to get these songs out that have been in the works for a few years, since I was in Europe, and a couple of years before that.
“It’s interesting because some of the songs are from pre-European travels so they have a different slant on them, but now, post-Europe, they are more defined with much more meaning.”