Gone are the days when music artists were pigeonholed into a sole category. Fast rising star, Miller Blue is the perfect example of just that. The artist has been credited for his eclectic sound, where droplets of Soul, Jazz and R&B create a truly unique sound. Last year, his song Rhythm in the Dance reached over 1.5 million streams, launching his profile into the mainstream. Now on the verge of releasing his second LP; Sunflower, we catch up with the exciting talent to find out his inspirations and see what’s coming next in the land of Blue.
As with many musicians, many monikers and styles have come and gone before Miller Blue settled on his current pseudonym. “I started out under the name ‘BenJBeats’ when I was 17. I would make hiphop instrumentals on FL studio and upload them to Soundcloud. I remember getting my first 100 plays. I was so gassed. I also remember making the logo and thinking it was great. I had another name between BenJBeats and Miller Blue but I’m gonna keep that one to myself…”
In 2019, the artist released Cotton – his debut LP. His unique style caught the eye of many, with the 2 songs gaining over a million streams alone. Releasing your first complete body of work is a huge moment for any musician. “Honestly, it was so relieving. After working on this project for so long I simply could not wait to let it out into the world so that I could move on. I was so invested. From the production, to the artwork to the marketing I was really involved every step of the way. It also allowed me to focus on tying together this next project.”
I imagine that moment to be somewhat nerve-wracking. What if people react badly? You put your blood and tears into that debut full release, but for Miller Blue, everything went perfectly. “People were so warm for the most part. I had some really touching messages from fans. I remember when I first started seeing freestyle dance videos being performed to some of the project. That was a wonderful moment for me.”
Now on the verge of releasing his second LP; Sunflower, Miller Blue looks set to ride the wave of momentum gained from Cotton. Both ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Us’ are the two lead singles from the LP, we can see a notable shift in sound and there seems to be an air of confidence in his voice this time around. Something the artist agrees with; “There is a lot more guitar on this record. It’s what I write most of my songs on, and I felt it fitting to include more of that aspect of my work into this project. I’ve gained confidence since the last record regarding my vocal performance which I think you can hear. Also, there’s a lot more live instrumentation, which again just felt right to do. Each song is simply a representation of how I was feeling at the time, I didn’t try and tie it into any particular box. I tried to be open with where the songs should go.”
Miller Blue has a rare trait in his sound. It isn’t surprising that more than one ‘genre’ takes prevalence through his music, what is surprising is the broad range of those genres. The notable sounds of Jazz, Soul and R&B all take key roles in the artists sound. His sound is certainly unique but it was never planned on purpose. “The mix comes from everything I enjoy listening to. I do remember the album that first tilted me stylistically towards where my music sits now. Chet Faker’s ‘Built on Glass’ album hit me differently. It seemed to align with my life at the time so perfectly, and I think it gave me the confidence to be unapologetic about what music I wanted to make, and it really felt like the start of my own authentic journey.”
What strikes me is the emotion in Miller Blue’s music. Not only in the vocals but also in the production. You get the raw passion that came from Soul, but you also get the ‘can’t help but move’ production that both Jazz and R&B gave you all those years ago. Perhaps the key to all this lies in the artist’s personal journey. “I grew up around synthesisers as my dad had a low-key obsession with them. His collection was insane. So, I always wanted to incorporate that into my sound in some way. I’ve spent a lot of my time listening to hip hop in my life and I feel that comes through in the drums of a lot of my tracks. I listen to so much music, inspiration drips in from many styles but right now I’m taking inspiration mostly from honest performances. I want to be able to perfectly glue intricate and interesting sonics alongside the most honest performances I can give.”
With 2020 essentially being a write off at this point, Miller Blue is in the same position as all of us – life is on hold. The artist had many plans, sadly now most will be postponed, but he is keeping a positive attitude. “We were ready to push the live shows and get them fully moving this summer. A European tour was on the cards as well as a few support tours but I’m now trying to use this time to prepare my next project and just focus on the things I can control.”
As for life after all this, none of us can really plan anything, musicians aren’t exempt from that either. But when the world is nothing like you remember it, a sense of perspective is gained. “Musically, I just want to be able to keep on creating freely. Beyond that, if things come, I of course would be proud however I try not to let accolades lead my decision making when it comes to music. I hope I get to spend more time with my family and friends. Such a time can really make you think about who means what to you. I don’t feel I spend enough time with those people and I really want to make a conscious effort to do so. I want to travel more, see places I’ve never seen, share moments with people I’ve not yet met. Laugh by my partner’s side again. The simple things.”
One thing that strikes me about the artist is how self-reflective he is. Throughout, even if it was subconsciously, everything he does sonically has a personal connection. It’s something that comes across in his music. When I listen to Miller Blue, I feel such a broad range of emotions but that’s the power of good music, and certainly of a good musician. Although the current crisis has halted certain plans, the future looks brighter than ever for the artist.