“Acoustic” an Interview with Misty Miller

Misty Miller is a veritable ingénue of folk/pop. With a small ukulele, a big voice and a pure heart she has strummed up a strong, influential and growing following. She was featured as one of the first artists picked for Christopher Bailey’s Burberry Acoustic, a platform that showcases young and new British artists. these ongoing acoustic sessions are shared with the global Burberry audience. since then misty has had her debut EP on MySpace and released her first album. aaron radford-Wattley was lucky enough to meet with the very lovely misty miller in the swarovski Crystallized café in central london. –interview by Aaron Radford-Wattley, photography Nicole Maria Winkler, fashion Katie Burnett, hair Kota Suizu, stylist assistant Chloe Pierre. Special thanks to Anthony Gordon @ Premier Management

In terms of music, which artists have influenced you?
Misty Miller: Lots of artists for the 2nd album. But it’s really hard to think of (specific) artists because I don’t really listen to artists and think ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ I just have music on and I pick things from it.
I’d typically say Billie Holiday and Rockabilly but I think that’s just the music I listen to. I don’t have one aspiring artist.

You’ve been in the Burberry adverts, how did that come about?
MM: That was through you (nods and smiles towards Anthony Gordon, her agent). I think I was one of the first they did.
Anthony Gordon: They put out an announcement looking for acts for a new platform that Christopher Bailey was doing. We submitted Misty and they came right back and said ‘Yeah, we’d love to have her’. She was one of the first they’d ever used. She’s like a pioneer for Burberry (laughs).

You appeared on the MySpace homepage debuting your new EP, what was that like?
MM: That was wicked! That was really cool! They did it twice actually which was really nice but it was cool. It helped a lot actually.
AG: They did an announcement before the EP was released and then they did one ten days later after it was launched.

What made you post your first video on YouTube?
MM: I’m trying to remember what my first video was on YouTube. Technically it was the Burberry one. And then I put my own ones up. But yeah I think that was my first one and we just put it on my page.
AG: Misty wasn’t one of those YouTube artists. Burberry happened and we decided to do her own channel.

Were you surprised with the response to your video?
MM: Yeah! The Burberry one? Yeah, I mean the Burberry channel got the most views but I was pretty surprised actually.

Did you look at any of the comments?
MM: Yeah I did! Like “looking like an angel” was one which was quite strange. I think it was just that day, with that look and that dress. But lovely comments really, which is nice as YouTube (comments) can be pretty cruel. I haven’t had any too bad yet. There was one that mentioned my piercings but that wasn’t the Burberry one though.

Have you discovered any new musicians via YouTube? If so, who and what do you like about them?
MM: I don’t really use YouTube as a place to find musicians. So honestly no, I haven’t found any new musicians from YouTube. Obviously I look up people I like already.

How would you describe your music?
MM: I’d describe it…I really don’t know. That’s been quite difficult actually to describe because I don’t have a favorite style of music that I listen to. Because a lot of people listen to folk throughout their life and they do that or they listen to…I don’t know. Recently I was on my way back from a gig and I was listening to music in the car and I was with a friend and I played Bob Dylan and then the next track was T.I’s ‘Live your Life’. And my friend said ‘Why are you listening to this?’ and I said ‘When I say I’ve got a wide range of taste in music I really do mean wide. Eclectic.’

You play the ukulele, how long have you been playing and how did you come to playing the ukulele?
MM: I’ve been playing for almost three years. It was a gift from my dad. And at first I told him not to get it. Originally I was walking past a shop and it was a pink Flying V one. One of those sort of cheap ones that everyone sort of has. And my dad said ‘Aww I think you should get it, it’s cool.’ And I said ‘No, I’m never going to play it.’ But then once I had it…I’ve tried the bass and piano but when I tried the ukulele for some reason it just worked and I really liked it.

Does the mention of ‘George Formby’ make you cringe or laugh?
MM: I don’t know if it makes me cringe. The ukulele is seen as a bit of a gimmick and George Formby sort of rides along with that view of the ukulele, but yeah, he’s cool. He made people know of the ukulele. When people think of the ukulele they think of that kind of very typical sound and that’s what I try not to do. I’ve seen lots of players who play the ukulele the way they are meant to be played with that typical sound. But what I like to do is perhaps not write a typically happy ukulele song. I don’t know how to describe it but there’s that particular ukulele sound that’s strummed a certain way. I don’t play it because it’s a ukulele; I play it because it’s an instrument I like.

Has the mention of George Formby come up a lot?
MM: It has! It came up a lot at the beginning; it hasn’t really come up as much recently. I think it’s because I give that kind of answer and then they realize that I’m not quite like that. AG: I think that it’s so cool that people only have one association. So it gives Misty a lot to play with. MM: A lot of people have got them now. They are becoming quite popular.

Can you play any other musical instruments?
MM: I used to play the bass and I can play guitar. But that’s about it really. I think if you can play the bass or ukulele you can play the other. I’ve got a guitar that I love to play. But I don’t perform with it. I do write with it though. A lot of my songs have been written on it recently.

Is anyone else in your family musically talented?
MM: Most of my family is quite musical actually. Most of my brothers are, my dad is, my mum kind of is as well. They mainly play guitar, which is one reason why I don’t play it (laughs).

The lyrics to ‘Remember’ are quite deep, could you explain what it’s about?
MM: If you’ve heard some of my other stuff I don’t think they are. I wrote it when I was 13 but it basically sounds a bit stupid now, but it’s about when you’re young and you see someone and you think ‘I love you’ but actually you’re not in love with them, you just saw them walk by. So that’s what ‘Remember’ was about. It wasn’t about a particular person. I wrote it at least a year before I got the ukulele. I had it in my head so that one is really quite old.

Are you currently studying?
MM: I am studying. I’m studying Philosophy, Psychology and Art. I’m enjoying what I’m learning but I don’t know if I’m enjoying college life.

You’re already a massive hit with the fashion industry, from what you’ve experienced so far is the fashion world as you expected?
MM: Kind of yeah. It’s what I expected.

Have you met anyone within fashion that’s made a big impact on you, good or bad? MM: Anthony? (laughs) My agent. He’s in fashion. A lot of magazine people and Burberry obviously.

Do you make a conscious decision when getting dressed in the morning? MM: I think I do. I think a lot of people do even if it’s not something they think about. But yeah, I wouldn’t say I experiment but I’m not really sticking to one sort of style.

Ok, let’s say you have a big music awards event to attend and you’ve been nominated for an award, what would be the first place you’d look for an outfit?
MM: Christopher Kane. I like him. It probably wouldn’t be my own stuff so I’d like to see what he’s got for me.

Do you own a pair of Uggs? Are you a lover or a hater of Uggs?
MM: Technically I do. I have the ones I had when I was younger, but they were before anyone else wore them. My mum thinks she brought them into fashion because she had them in the early ‘90s. I wore them when I was a kid and no one else wore them, but I don’t wear them now. I wouldn’t say I hate them but it really annoys me when you see people with them on and they get weighed down in the middle and soft or pushed out on the sides and it looks a bit weird. It’s like ‘Argh’. They’re comfortable I guess but they’re not for me anymore.

It has been suggested that many women dress for the benefit of other women as opposed to men? Would you agree or disagree with this theory and why?
MM: I was talking about this with one of my friends. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree actually.

I think a lot of women might dress because they want other women to see what they’re wearing, I don’t think it’s just for the guys so I guess I tend to agree.

Do you have a ‘style icon’? If so who and why?
MM: I don’t really have a style icon but I have a friend Eve who gave me confidence to be more adventurous. It sounds cheesy but music… certain music styles. I like tapping into that. I once saw my brother play at a gig and I really liked that sort of sound so the next day I wore baggy jeans and a t-shirt instead of a dress. But weather plays a big part. I won’t wear a pair of shorts when it’s cold like a lot of people do. I really love doing my nails. I do it myself; I don’t go to a manicurist. I have the oils, the base coats, and the top coats. I’ve got the OPI Katy Perry one. I actually waited for the release dates to get it. So now there are people at college who wait to see what nail varnish I have each day. I really, really take pride in them (laughs). So that’s one thing I like.

How often do you change your nail varnish?
MM: Well they’re actually chipped today (holds out hands and inspects a nail) so I don’t know how I can handle that but these are good so I might just redo the chipped one and keep these ones for a bit. I’d say each week it’s different, yeah.