Chances are that you've heard Nicole Millar's voice before, even if you didn't know it. She's featured on huge tracks by Peking Duk, Golden Features, Cosmo's Midnight and more, but her new project, Are You Kidding?, gives her a chance to truly shine.
The EP, which was written over the last year or so, is an exploration of the emotions that Nicole has been feeling, as well as the heartbreak she's been experiencing. We spoke to Nicole about the project, as well as how she's seen her writing process evolve when she's in the studio.
Hi Nicole! You’ve just released your new EP, Are You Kidding?, and speaking about writing and producing the EP, you mention that COVID definitely influenced how it was made. What lessons have the last 12 months taught you about creating music, and have you enjoyed being pushed to create in different ways?
The last 12 months have definitely been a ride! I’ve been learning a lot about myself and what I want to do. It’s been non-stop for me since I came into the industry in 2014, so it was nice to have time to think and chill out. I’m always up for a challenge, so I enjoyed the process!
The EP touches on heartbreak, and you discuss past experiences as part of the lyricism on the project. When you’re writing music, do you find yourself processing real-life events through songwriting, and if so, do you find that process cathartic?
I can only write my best music when I’m feeling something. It’s hard to explain but basically, if the music playing gives me an emotion I’ll improvise some melodies and then piece together some words. Normally, it turns out to be something that has been lingering on my mind without me even realising.
We wanted to ask about some of the influences on the project. What music have you been listening to recently, and how did those artists feed into the sounds you explored on Are You Kidding?
I’m constantly finding new artists! I wrote all the songs on the EP last year in 2020, so I was mostly listening to Rosalia, Lykee Li and Arca. Everything I listen to inspires me to make better music, so I’m not sure you can hear those artists in my music, but most music I listen to is very different from what I create!
In the spirit of the EP being called Are You Kidding?, when was the last time you found yourself saying that to someone?
Literally every time I watch reality TV! I’m currently watching Big Brother.
As an artist, you’re always pushing yourself to evolve. From your previous music to this project, what changes have you noticed about yourself and the way you approach songwriting?
I like to write the way a lot of hip-hop artists write, so I’m trying to take myself out of the traditional pop session writing rooms. I’ve gone back to writing in rooms with just myself and a producer and vibing, then later bringing in a guitarist and just really taking the time with the song rather than trying to finish it all in one day.
The songs on the EP were initially written in your house, which we can imagine is a change from how you normally write. How do you think that change of environment impacted the songs, and did writing these at home initially allow you to be more vulnerable?
Writing by myself definitely allows me to be more vulnerable. I sometimes become quiet in a room with big personalities and writers, so being by myself and getting out exactly what I want to say feels nice.
We also wanted to ask about the music video for Are You Kidding? It captures the natural beauty that surrounds us all, and we thought it really embodied the song and its gentle yet pointed lyrics. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the video?
Thank you! It was really fun putting this music video together. My initial idea was a housewife getting out of her day-to-day and escaping on a road trip to just be with herself. I think when writing Are You Kidding? I was sitting on a couch wanting to be anywhere but where I was, frustrated with my reality. When editing the video with Simon I think we really captured that feeling of what it was like in lockdown when you just needed time outside of the house in nature to think and ponder.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
I’m currently trying to find a house that I can stay in for 6 months and write with no distractions! I’m so excited.