Interview | Nicole Millar

Sydney singer-songwriter Nicole Millar’s soulful vocals have graced collabrations with the likes of Golden Features and of course, Peking Duk’s huge 2014 track ‘High’. This year, Millar has stepped out on her own with the release of her much-anticipated Tremble EP in April. The EP sees Millar working with sought-after writers from around the world alongside US-based, Israeli-born producer Dan Farber (Dim Mak, Mad Decent) who refined the EP’s sophisticated blend of RnB-laced electronic beats, slow-burning synths and sultry vocals. In the middle of a national EP tour, Nicole Millar took some time out to chat about the new EP and what it’s like stepping out as a solo artist.

You kicked off your national tour last week – how are you finding the shows so far?
Yeah I just started my tour in Melbourne last Friday and it went really well, suprisingly, I wasn’t sure how many people were going to rock up and if people would get into it because it was a club show but it’s always so much fun to see how things turn out and see people enjoying the new music.

Your EP Wait was released a couple of months ago – how have you found the process of translating it into a live setting? What’s your set up looking like for this current tour with your live band?
I’ve got two other people in my band, one plays drums and triggers the tracks through Ableton and the other guy plays an SCD and synths and sometimes guitar. So there’s lots of things going on and a lot more fun, I used to just perform with one guy and no instruments and it’s definitely a lot more energetic than it used to be.

You’ve just been announced for Splendour too which is huge – what can people expect from your set?
I’m hoping to play some new songs that haven’t been released and I might get a third guy in my band. Also some cool lights.

You came to the nation’s attention for your collaborations with other artists like Peking Duk and Golden Features – how have you found the transition stepping out on your own over the last year?
It’s been good, it’s definitely more rewarding when you put out your own music and seeing people’s reactions to it. I wouldn’t be where I am without the collaborations but I still get to collaborate with people all the time when I do sessions because I don’t produce music, I just songwrite and sing – so I don’t miss out on that part. Coming out on my own as an artist has been good, it took about a year and a half to find out what kind of artist I wanted to be and I’m just so happy that my music is finally out. I’ve had some of the songs for over a year. It feels really nice to have them out and being able to say what I want to say in my songs is really nice.

You worked with producer Dan Farber (Dim Mak, Mad Decent) on the EP, what was the creative dynamic like between you guys?
I met him when I was over in the states and we did a session together on this songwriting camp which was really lucky because sometimes these songwriting camps can be a bit hit and miss. We just really got along – he listens to what I want to do and we bounce off each other really well. We’re both visually inspired so we just clicked really well. We wrote the song ‘Tremble’ together when we were in the states and then he came back over here to finish it. It’s just so nice to find producers that you really mould with and who listen to you and what you want to do?

What was your introduction to music – have you always been a singer? What sparked your interest in making music?
I was always a super shy child growing up until I went to a performing arts school for acting and that really helped with my confidence but I wasn’t really in love with acting, it didn’t really suit me. The new confidence kind of opened up this singing stream and that’s when I got to record music and learn how to sing and that’s when I really fell in love with it and started putting stuff online and contacting producers – it kind of spiralled from that?

I know you’re a big RnB fan – has this been a longtime love? What kind of stuff did you listen to growing up?
I think so. When I was younger I just listened to a lot of what was on the radio because I didn’t really know how to find new music and my parents weren’t that into music. I listened to a lot of Destiny’s Child – that was my first concert. It was so sick, I wish I could see them again. Lots of pop music… I actually listened to the Dixie Chix a lot when I was younger and Shania Twain and Nelly Furtado. Whatever was happening on the radio I just listened to. I guess as I grew older and found out about Soundcloud, that definitely changed a lot of things?

Have you found anything new lately you’ve really liked?
I really like this girl called K.Flay – she’s really cool. She’s done a lot of collaborations and she just put out this song called ‘F.M.L’ which is a really cool track. I’ve got a Spotify playlist called ‘Tunezzz‘ that I always add to and there’s lots of RnB in there as well as lots of electronic people which is definitely all I listen to.

You recently played the Athena Women Music Festival in Perth (on march 11) how did you find that whole experience?
That was in perth and it was really cool. The line up was just girls and it was really nice to meet all of these girls, I hadn’t met any of them before apart from Asta. I performed just as the sun was going down which is such a nice vibe as everyone gets way more into it when the sun goes down. It was a cool festival. I like the idea behind it and everyone was really nice and got into it which is what you want I guess.

After this tour – what else is coming up that you’re excited about?
After this tour, my next show will be Curve Ball which is a Fuzzy-run festival at Carriageworks and the line up is really cool and it’s a cool venue as well. Then Splendour, and then I’m really excited about the Troye Sivan tour. I think that will be lots of fun because they’re the biggest venues I will have ever played in and his fans are absolutely crazy so it should be fun.

Nicole Millar ‘Wait’ remaining tour dates below.