Interview with Mili & Bertie
Mili & Bertie are an alt-pop duo from Berkshire, England that are weaving bluesy Americana and country-pop influences into their exciting and magical sound.
They recently released Into The Night, their five-track stunning debut EP which is bursting with captivating country-influenced alt-pop tracks guaranteed to grab your attention with their irresistible melodies, gorgeous harmonies and driving guitars.
Something truly magical happens when Mili and Bertie start to sing in unison. Their voices blend together so beautifully and every harmony is a gift to the ears.
Mili & Bertie have something seriously special and you can’t help but feel certain that these two are going somewhere every time they start to sing. I can’t wait to see what is in store for this accomplished duo.
They are planning a year full of live shows throughout the UK and further afield and have already announced their first few dates for 2022 including their quarter finalist gig at the Hoxton Underbelly for the Isle of Wight New Blood Competition on March 11th.
It was a real pleasure to chat to Mili & Bertie about their stunning EP, their standout gigs and the tracks they are most excited to perform live this year…
Where did your love for music begin and when did you decide you wanted to be a professional musician?
We have both wanted to be musicians and perform ever since we can remember. Bertie grew up going to gigs with his dad who is in a band and Mili probably sung before she could talk, listening to the greats and performing every chance she got. The thought that we could be our own bosses and just play music for a living was magic to us and we couldn’t think of anything better to do… we still can’t.
How did the two of you meet and what do you love most about being part of a duo?
We met at music college in Guildford! We played in different bands for a while, finding our style and improving our skills and when we left we decided to travel and play music together. The best part about being a duo when writing is being able to bounce ideas off each other and improve on them together. One of us could go away and write a verse, then the other adds something to it or improves it in a way they might not have thought to do.
In a live context and generally a huge positive of being a duo, is the confidence it gives you. We have been able to put ourselves out there much more knowing we aren’t on our own and we have each other’s backs while also taking turns to take the lead on things when its more one of our skill set or the other just can’t deal with it today! Whether we are touring, gigging, writing, networking or promoting, we can always discuss our decisions and enjoy the journey together!
How does it feel to be releasing your debut EP? Can you describe what the process of creating it has been like?
It feels mad to be releasing an EP… a really proud moment for us, particularly when we look back at the past few years and our journey up to this point.. we feel like everything we’ve done up until now, we have been growing and improving and the EP is the product of that; sticking at something, learning and working hard.
We feel that we have got to a point where we have really found our sound and learnt lessons from our previous releases in terms of the writing and producing our tracks as well as physically releasing music, promoting and marketing it… although there is still room for improvement on that (record labels get in touch! haha).
There’s also something different about releasing a body of work rather than a single. We grew up listening to full albums on CD and the fact that people can listen to the whole record as we intended, one after the other in the order we picked is so cool. We know lots people don’t really listen to CDs anymore… most people don’t even have anything to play one on these days but we have had our EP printed to CD (Our first CD’s!) because we wanted to hold in in our hand and enjoy that moment that we thought about when we were younger, and it’s the best feeling!
We recorded Into The Night in Creative Control Studios, a local studio in our home town. It ended up being a longer process than we anticipated. As always, we became engrossed in the production of the songs, trying to keep the performance raw and representative of our live sound whilst adding layers of ‘ear candy’ to make the song stand up against chart topping records. We enjoy the process of this very much and this time we decided to share it with our drummer and bassist (Josh & Alex); who have helped shape some of the songs when playing them live before getting into the studio.
Every song we write starts out as an acoustic track and so it’s always amazing for us to see the song come to life in the studio as we add more parts and layers and bring it to our band. We recorded the EP with the same sound engineer/producer as our previous singles, Josh McCrohan.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind your EP?
Our EP is (hopefully) a lyrical and musical representation of experiencing all the complex emotions, opportunities and lessons life has to offer. Into The Night literally represents our journey of being musicians and living each day into the night, not conforming to a typical 9-5 job or rhythm of life. We have lived these song for the past couple of years, noting down our feelings and life, forming the songs piece by piece along the way; taking them on the road with us while we have travelled and performed.
We want the songs to be heard in the back of a dead bar whilst playing small venues in cities we’ve never been to in the same way that they are heard on big stages as we continue to increase our opportunities.
We want our lyrics to be interpreted in different ways and mean something to each listener and what is going on in their own life whilst holding an element of mystery as to what the lyrics mean to us as a duo and individually.
Which track on the EP are you most proud to have created and why?
We’re really proud of all the song on the EP for different reasons. Our favourites constantly change. ‘That’s Alright’ was a changing point for us as it’s a really uplifting track and we have carried on writing like this and the EP shows that. It makes us feel happy and the feedback we have got from people about it has been so positive, particularly as we originally wrote and released it mid pandemic so it’s our happy anthem. It’s also really fun to play upbeat, happy songs in a live context. And also.. Baz Warne from The Stranglers?!!
Are you making the music you thought you would make when you first started out as a band?
That’s an interesting question. Yes we think so, we just started writing songs and quickly realised that we were on the same page in terms of the direction we wanted to go in…what we write has come quite naturally without much thought to style or genre. This has been shaped more by getting in the studio and adding more instrumentation to the songs and thinking about the production of the tracks. Like we said, we struggle to pigeonhole our genre. There’s always that drop down menu when selecting your style; are we pop, alt-pop, adult contemporary, indie, americana? We’re kind of all those things but none of them. We don’t really feel the need to be defined but we love hearing other peoples opinions on our sound and what they hear then they listen to us.
You have performed in different locations around the world. Of all your gigs, which stands out the most to you and why?
We have had a lot of stand out gigs for very different reasons…good and bad. In early 2020, we organised a 10 date tour of the US, which is a bizarre, crazy and wonderful place to perform. Some of the venues that we played in Los Angeles such as The Mint & Hotel Cafe were little bucket list tickers for us, purely because they pop up various TV series that we love.
Another standout show for us was supporting James Walsh of Starsailor at the Grand Central Hall in Liverpool. The venue is spectacular, the audience were very friendly to a couple of southerners and we’re very big fans of James Walsh. We’ve played all over from a big stage on the beach in Bora Bora to a toilet and bathroom shop in Chelsea.
Which tracks from the EP are you most excited to perform live and why?
When we write new songs, we like to go out and road test them. This normally kicks them into shape and confirms what we like or don’t like about the track! So we have performed a few of these tracks already. That being said, ‘Stay Tonight’ is something we haven’t played with a full band yet (and that’s probably going to be a tricky one to get together) and also ‘That’s Alright’. We’ve played ‘That’s Alright’ live before but not since it was re-arranged & re-recorded with Baz Warne, so we’re looking forward to playing that… all of the songs really, we love playing live!
Do you have a dream venue or festival that you’d love to perform at?
Theres quite a few of those and individually we probably have our personal ones. We definitely come together with Glastonbury…anytime, any stage, COME ON EVIS FAMILY…PICK US. Our personal choices are: Shepherds Bush Empire for Mili and Main Stage Glastonbury for Bertie.
Besides the release of your EP, what else are you planning for the rest of 2022?
Apart from trying to avoid Covid. We’re looking forward to a summer full of live shows & festivals, releasing more music and a few other things that we can’t talk about yet.
By Eveline Vouillemin ©