Interview: Milan Ring
Image: Gianna Hayes
Sydney singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, multi-instrumentalist and all-round musical genius Milan Ring has been making music since 2010. She released her first EP Glassy Eyes, a chilled out collection of R&B and soul, in 2014 and this was followed up with a further three EPs and a number of singles over the past four years. She has also recently started her own record label MXMAY, in order to retain complete control over her work as well as branch out into other artistic directions including fashion and art.
In October, Ring took part in the Rekorderlig Sauna Sounds which saw her peform an acoustic version of her track ‘Drifting’ inside a sauna. We recently caught up with Milan to chat about her career, running her own label and the joys of singing inside a sauna.
Hi Milan! Thanks for chatting to us. First of all, how is everything in the world of Milan Ring?
It is really good thank you, busy though! Currently in the studio prepping for the release of my next single.
You’ve been making music for close to ten years now - looking back, when did your interest in music start?
I remember dancing to Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones a lot as my mum used to play them all the time, but I also distinctly remember making dance moves and singing to TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ with my best friend Karen when I was like 6 or something.
What musicians were you into when you were growing up?
I went through lots of different phases, but I definitely became obsessed with hip hop and R&B throughout high school. Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Tupac…also guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, BB King & Joe Pass.
When did you decide that you wanted to make music a career?
In the beginning of my 20s, I started studying music production and audio engineering, and at the same time I started gigging a lot and touring as a session guitarist, whilst writing my first EP. It all just went from there.
You started your own label MXMAY to release your own music and also to produce other forms of art. What was your thought process in going down the fully independent route?
I just want to take my time with things and really enjoy music and life, I don’t want to feel any pressure to produce the next hit record or anything like that. I just want to make music that resonates with me, and for me that means keeping as many opinions that are motivated by money out of the equation - for example the majority of record labels.
How do you manage the sometimes conflicting realities of running a business (MXMAY) and being a creative artist?
Definitely finding the space for each of these things, I need to take time to be creative and not look at emails and so on and vice versa. When to switch on the appropriate hemisphere of your brain basically, sometimes the left brain is just ticking away and it's probably best to do some more analytical work, even the beginnings of mixing music, or tending to business rather than trying to create something fresh.
You recently performed in a sauna as part of the Rekorderlig Sauna Sounds series, what was that experience like?
It was different! Kind of felt like a rare hydroponic plant in the red glass room with everyone looking in filming and taking photos (laughs)
How did performing in such a small space affect your sound and your performance?
Well, it limited movement that’s for sure (laughs). But it was chill, sort of like rehearsing in someone’s lounge room - a really small lounge room! It was nice and intimate though and it ran very smoothly. I am really happy with our performance.
What are your thoughts on the current gender equality debate? Do you think we have a problem with sexism in the music industry, both from within the industry and how the general public perceive female performers?
There is a problem with sexism across most industries, so yes that definitely includes the music industry, but I believe this is improving. These current discussions are important, as well as community, education, inclusivity and awareness all being important factors for change but of course these changes don’t all happen over night. I am optimistic though!
What do you think needs to change to create a more equal society?
This is a huge question to tackle within a sentence, and I honestly do not think I am educated enough to even answer it, but I will say education is what I believe needs to be at the forefront of change. The more knowledge we as a society have around topics like gender and race, the more I think we will begin to see ignorance dissipate - especially from people holding power. Compassion is important too, we all need to strive to be more compassionate, myself include
What next for Milan Ring?
I have just released my new single ‘Green Light’! And getting ready for more shows over the summer, such as Lost Paradise, Grampians Festival, Pitch Music & Arts, NGV Gala and supporting Masego nationally.