“Running hits a certain part of my chest because it is real, it means so much to me. I’m shouting out for all to hear, let’s change these old melodies.” These are the heartfelt words of Millie Mountain, a 23-year-old Brit School Graduate living in Brixton. As an artist deeply devoted to her gift, she makes it clear that creating music is not simply a profession for her – it’s an intense form of expression that reaches the depths of her being.
Her unique sound is a rich blend of soul, jazz, and modern elements, and it goes beyond mere listening. It’s an immersive experience, a journey through a spectrum of emotions, conveyed through an extraordinary voice that is as rare as it is compelling in today’s music scene. This distinct timbre of her voice lends an alluring appeal to her tracks.
In her new song “Running“, her music evolves, shifting from introspective musings to a resounding call aimed at challenging the status quo. The track’s moving melodies and powerful lyrics articulate a longing to escape from destructive patterns, bearing witness to her metamorphic journey as an artist. “Being an observer and being a very open individual anyway, I’m sensitive and pick up on lots of things,” she explains. “Witnessing other people’s trauma and my own has made way for me to internalise these experiences differently and create songs like this.”
In our interview, she delves deeper into her creative process, her resolve to maintain authenticity in the music industry, and provides a glimpse into her collaboration with producers Tom Ford and Matt Barnes on the track “Running”.
photography by Suki Mountain
“Running” is a reflection of your desire to break away from the flow of destructive repetitive behaviour and the journey from old to new. Can you talk about a time when music helped you to make such a break in your own life?
Music for me has always been the best form of catharsis. All music has a place for all moods, for me it depends on how I’m feeling on the day what I listen to. I had a really awful time the other week and I just listened to Sade’s albums on repeat for the entire day and connected with her lyrics entirely, felt like it helped heal me. It’s the little things like that which make you realise why making music is all worth while.
The song was recorded in a basement studio at The Railway Tavern where you grew up. How did your childhood and growing up in that area influence the overall vibe of “Running”?
Being an observer and being a very open individual anyway, I’m sensitive and pick up on lots of things. I guess you could say witnessing other people’s trauma and my own has made way for me to internalise these experiences differently and create songs like this to best express what it is I want to let out into the world.
In the production of this song, you had the opportunity to work with both Tom Ford and Matt Barnes. Could you share some insights about your experience and the process of collaborating with them on this project?
When I met up with Tom at The Railway, we went into the sunny garden beforehand to gather our ideas and have a chat, I played him some voice notes I had stored away on my iPhone and then I found one idea that I labelled ‘Running’ which was just me, my voice and my hands drumming on my drawers. This then materialised into the track you are hearing now, going from me drumming on a chest of drawers to banging it out on a bongo, creating this song was incredible because I witnessed our ideas merging to make it sound the way it does, which was in fact far from my initial vision but I had to learn to get acquainted with change and not get so hooked on it sounding exactly the way it did when I had it in my mind the day I came up with the vision.
I’m so happy with the final product and wouldn’t change it, it’s magical how even after I was so sure of what I wanted it to sound like, the way it ended up sounding as it did, it was as if the whole process was there to get it to where it needed to be. He understood my vision, so naturally the session flowed very smoothly from there and we had it completed within three hours of starting.
Matt is one of the loveliest guys I’ve ever met. So easy to get along with and work with, I’m so excited for all the projects we’ve got coming up. Every time we discuss and communicate our ideas, I find he’s very motivated to be as versatile as he can be when working with artists of all different genres and he does this so naturally. After our first session where we ended up making this alien beat which is a genre of its own, Matt got to know me some more and as he’s mastered some of my tracks recently too, starting gaining a sense of what my sound was, that by the second session we had a couple weeks ago he came in with this initial idea he’d produced after he’d had a think about what would fit nicely with my vibe and after adding the vocals and some cheeky synth onto the beat, what we created was beyond words.
“I’m just myself and nothing but myself, my goal is to stay independent so they don’t leech off me and my energy. The industry is a crazy place and I’ve only seen a portion.”
In the past, you’ve noted that you want your music to “hit a certain part of your chest” regardless of genre. How does “Running” fulfil this for you?
Well I never think about how I want my music to sound and I only ever create what I feel is authentic to my beliefs and how I feel at the time, whether that be relative to something that I’ve just experienced or a past memory, whatever it be, it’s relative to me and it means nothing other than what I’m internalising and outwardly projecting into the stratosphere for all to hear.
Call me a soul singer, call me a pop star, a jazz singer, none of that means anything to me, the industry is trying to box us up and make us feel the need to define ourselves by our genre and if we do not, we are told that we do not have a place. I could waffle about that now too. (laughs) Anyway, I just like doing what I do. Running hits a certain part of my chest because it is real, it means so much to me. I’m shouting out for all to hear, let’s change these old melodies.
You have previously mentioned that you don’t like to define your style, but “Running” has clear elements of Neo-Soul and Jazz. Are there any artists from these genres that you feel have particularly influenced this track?
Stevie Wonder and Erykah Badu come to mind (my most listened to artists) when I think of genre bending musicians who have a similar vibe and I have been inspired by along the line, however no one influenced the creating of this track other than a higher power speaking through me, which is what I say for all songs that I create.
I’m truly impressed by your incredible voice. Can you recall the first time you ever received a compliment about your unique voice?
I have always sung, I would stay after school for choir practice and perform at the concerts, was part of a couple bands too in secondary school, leading onto college I went on to studying musical theatre so learned to adapt my voice in many ways before finding my true sound, the one that sat with me as my own, I feel I’ve found that now. I’ve always had people complimenting my voice and telling me how much talent I have, but this is something that wasn’t anything other than what I had to do and always knew I must do. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed doing.
“I want nothing other than to grow. Grow until I am the best version of myself that I can be.”
You’ve spoken about your passion for collaborating with individuals globally, facilitated by advances in technology. Is there a particular culture or nation that has distinctly shaped or inspired your music?
I’m inspired by all kinds of music and cultures and when I travel to certain places I feel a pull of energy. One day what I’d like to do is go travelling all over, I’m so used to recording here but even though I’m not incredibly well travelled I’m lucky to have had such a diverse upbringing in an environment with so many people from different cultures and experiences, which has definitely had an impact on the sound of my music. From a very young age, I’ve always listened heavily to reggae most, as it was something my father brought me up on, having interviewed famous legends such as Max Romeo and Lucky Dube on his independent radio station based in Aberystwyth, I’ve had recordings played to me from years ago of interviews he’s done and the house used to be filled top to bottom with his records.
From your interviews, it’s clear that authenticity is important to you. How do you maintain your authenticity in an industry that often pushes for commercial appeal?
Honestly I’m just myself and nothing but myself, my goal is to stay independent so they don’t leech off me and my energy. The industry is a crazy place and I’ve only seen a portion. I will never have anybody tell me how I should sound or how I should dress, ever.
“Music for me has always been the best form of catharsis. All music has a place for all moods.”
Can you tell us more about your upcoming album?
Fugitive of The Mind, my debut album, is due for release early next year (2024). It’s been in the works now for over a year already and I am more than exited to release this project. It has been made during a period where I’ve experienced some of the best and some of the worst days of my life and definitely been a massive catharsis for me through so many changes happening in my life, both internally and externally. To be able to listen to it when complete (which it almost is, promise!) will be something I can only dream of. I’ve cried countless times over these tracks and all I want is for them to be in your ears. The whole concept of this album is about mental health and literally freeing yourself from the mind. I want it to be an escape for those who need it, so that when they listen, they won’t feel alone.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I see myself being my authentic self and doing my ultimate best in a world that is so designed to tear you down. I want nothing other than to continue trusting my intuition and moving with the natural rhythms and flow that the universe gifts us. Reject that natural flow and intuition, you will only be saddened but it can help you to grow. I want nothing other than to grow. Grow until I am the best version of myself that I can be.
Thank you very much for the interview!
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