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Milan Ring wants you to (virtually) party with your friends

WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

The multi-talented musician on her soulful new single and the power of a strong suit.

I call Milan Ring on an overcast day in early April. Of course, our interview has to be conducted over the phone, not just because I’m in Melbourne and Milan is in Sydney, but because we’re in the thick of a pandemic and words like ‘social distancing’ and ‘lockdown’ have suddenly found a permanent place in our daily lexicon.  

I tell Milan how sorry I am to hear that she’s had to cancel her Switch Off national tour. Set to begin in mid-April to promote her newly released singles, the tour, like countless others around the country, couldn’t go ahead.

But despite the suspended animation of the world right now, Milan is remaining positive and productive during this period. “I’ve been playing guitar every day. I just got this Stevie Wonder anthology songbook yesterday, so I’m very excited. Maybe by the end of this I’ll know most of his songs,” she says, her tone as warm as her singing voice. 

Milan is about to release her latest single ‘Are Your Friends Alright?’ and I mention how apt this is seeing as we’re all virtually checking in with our friends while social distancing. But considering the song was written “well before this time”, she tells me that’s not the case. 

“I like when my music is open to interpretation and people hear and take it a particular way but it actually isn’t about that. It’s about partying,” she laughs.“There’s not anything that deep to this song lyrically, it’s really about having a good time with your friends and avoiding people with bad energy.” 

Milan is aware of the irony – releasing a single about partying with friends during a time when we literally can’t do that. But, as she says, “There’s always Zoom parties.”

“I’m thinking for my birthday in June – if this is still going on – I’m going to have a Zoom party and get everyone to dress up and not be in PJs. But who knows where we’ll be in June, fingers crossed we can actually hug our friends.” 

‘Are Your Friends Alright?’ comes off the back of the meditative ‘Switch Off’ – another song that incidentally matches the vibe of 2020 – and both embody her dynamic musical style. 

A melting pot of R&B, ’90s soul and modern electro sounds, her smooth, angelic voice compels you to groove along to every song. With influences ranging from Jimi Hendrix to hip-hop, the multi-talented singer-songwriter and producer seamlessly blends a melting pot of genres together.

“I’m always experimenting, especially when producing, so I think my music will always evolve and change sonically. For me, if I resonate with it and it connects and feels soulful, I like it and I’ll put it out.” 

Musically, Milan is a one-woman show, and I’m curious to know what her process is like. “Every song is so different. For example, sometimes people I work with might send me ideas and that’s where I start. There are some songs I’ve done from start to finish with no one involved and some songs I’ve done from start to final production and then brought musicians in to enhance the sound.” 

Some of the artists Milan has worked with include American neo-soul singer SZA and R&B producers The Social Experiment during her time spent in LA. But for now, the Sydney artist is back home and in the studio that she and a friend built in Marrickville two years ago. 

“It’s soundproof and full of toys and gear. I’ve got everything I could need and more but it’s one of those traps because once you have things in the studio you want to add more!” Milan mentions that despite social distancing, she’s “dressed fly and feeling good” while in her studio. 

Noting that the cover art on each of Milan’s previous singles has a distinct colour and mood, I ask her if fashion is an important aspect of her music. “Absolutely. I love the way shapes and different silhouettes play on your body and I’ve always loved wearing hoops and power suits. I think it can really enhance your vibe and make you feel confident and strong and sexy and all the things you need to feel in that moment.” 

Her new look contains a lot of earthy tones and is a contrast from her previous predilection for primary colours like red and blue. “I was really enjoying doing the colour blocking thing for a while and just landed on yellow and white and I’m staying there for the moment because these are my favourite colours to wear.” 

Helping her define her ethereal look, Milan has recently begun collaborating with friend, stylist and creative designer Christina Bouzios from Bou Design House“It’s been a really incredible journey with the film clip and finding someone who just gets me. She pulls out what my style is naturally, but can enhance that as someone with a more visual eye than myself.”

Although we can’t physically party to ‘Are Your Friends Alright?’ just yet (Zoom listening party, anyone?), the song is a positive, groove-filled tune that reminds me of the good times to come post-pandemic. 

As for Milan’s hopes for the coming months? Staying present and creative and releasing new music is at the top of her lockdown list. Laughing, Milan tells me, “By the end of this year, I’m going to know so many more songs on guitar… that’s for sure.”

You can listen to the new track here.

milanring.com

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