Interview: Milan Ring Tells Us About Her New Single ‘Step Back’ And Her Upcoming National Tour
More soul than a sock with a hole.
Words by Declan Whelan March 19, 2019

People can’t help but be drawn to and talk about artists with the ‘whole package’. You know, the talent, attitude, ambition, aesthetic and a killer liver performance? Well, Milan Ring is one of those artists.

Back with her new single, ‘Step Back’ and about to take her live show on the road with her very first national headline tour, Milan Ring is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and mixing & mastering engineer all rolled into one. On stage, that translates into a combination of guitar licks, loop pedals and soulful vocals, for an all round mesmerising performance.

To celebrate the release of her new track, we caught up to talk all things Milan Ring.

First of all, congratulations on your new single ‘Step Back’. That song is all about resilience and finding confidence and strength within ourselves. Why was that message important to you?

I think it’s important for everyone. I think there is so much bullying in schools, out of school and in the workplace. And not just bullying; discrimination, especially for people of colour, women of colour and just so much day to day stuff that you have to brush off. I think for me, I’m surrounded by such an incredible community of creatives and especially a big community of people of colour, and women of colour, that I just see things, and I hear things, and we share all these stories of experiences that are disappointing, you know? It’s a shame that it’s like that but really there is so much internal strength that you can draw upon. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Yeah and I think there’s a strength in being able to share that. You shared a lot in the last year, releasing a string of singles throughout 2018 that touched on different emotions and experiences. How much of that is pulled straight from your life, or how much creative license do you allow yourself when you’re writing and telling those stories?

It’s kind of song by song. ‘Green Light’ was a bit more of a narrative, so with that I took abit more artistic liberty to explore the concept of this strong woman. Of course that draws from experiences, but I kind of had this movie playing out as I was writing that song. That’s one example. But other songs like ‘Drifting’, that’s just straight up my personal experience.

From one single to the next you also sample and explore really different sounds. Where do you draw inspiration from in that regard?

Everywhere! I’ll probably always be in such an experimental phase. I just love so much different music. I like to be up with what’s current, obviously I’m listening to Solange at the moment, and I’ve been listening to the new James Blake album and H.E.R. and stuff like that but then I’m also always just listening to jazz. I’ve been on a Roy Ayers tip again lately too.

With such a diverse musical skillset you’re obviously heavily involved in every aspect of your music from start to finish. How do you start a song?

I don’t start on the same instrument every time. I might start on guitar one day, or I might start on bass, or I might just tap out a beat, or I might be working with a keys player and be sampling them, and then it goes somewhere else. It’s kind of a jammed process, in that sense, and I think that’s why it ends up sounding different.

While we’re on that, how did you pick up so many instruments as well as mixing and mastering?

I think it’s just something I really wanted to do. I’ve always had a particular sound I want to achieve and until I land at that sound I’ll keep learning how to get there, I guess. I started with guitar and then worked on my voice, then I did a Diploma in Sound Engineering and Production at TAFE in my early 20’s. I also locked myself in a room and nerded out hard, read blogs and YouTube tutorials and learnt how to do more engineering and production. I became obsessed with mixing cause I just really liked finding a space for everything, I feel like when I listen to music I really see it all, sitting in its little corner and how I want it to move it around and play with how the instruments interact not just musically but sonically.

On top of that, you’ve been releasing music under your own label MXMAY. Tell us about that.

I think it was late 2016, I just realised I wanted to release my own music on my own label. I wanted to do it on my own terms, my own time, on my own release schedule. I was working with some publicists and I was like, “Yep I can do this,” and that’s basically what I’ve been doing. I have the idea to expand it into something bigger one day but for now it’s just been a great way for me to release my own music.

I read a short article on you that Purple Sneakers did a while back – shout out to them – which listed some artists that you’ve been in the studio with at different times and some of those names, like SZA, D.R.A.M and LL COOL J, are next level. How did those opportunities come up and what were those sessions like?

So I was in LA working with The Social Experiment Crew quite a bit. I have a few songs with them, yet to be released. That’s how I got that collab with D.R.A.M., because he just came to the studio and listened to what we’ve been working on. Another day SZA was there, and Diana Gordon, and we just all met and hung out and SZA was so nice. I didn’t actually know of her then at all but she was really, really lovely.. She was like, “Who are you? I need to get your details. here take my number down,” 

And LL Cool J, I was basically hanging out with some producers in New York and then went to his session and all the producers were playing their beats. Then he’d go, “Yep! I like this one,” and hop in the booth and rap over that beat. I was shy about production then so didn’t play anything. I felt like it wasn’t ready yet. Then DJ Premier came in and basically it was a session shutdown. It was like, “Everyone get out because DJ Premier is here and he’s got proper beats.” It inspired me, I was like, I need to go work hard and have all my beats on my phone, ready to play.


Crazy. Finally, you’re about to go on your first national headline tour. What can fans expect from those shows?

They can expect a new adapted show, I’m working on some exciting things for set design. At my last show I had some set design and projection so I’m working on some new things in that realm which I’m really excited about. So new music, a new set design and amazing supporting artists. I’m so grateful for that, such an incredible support lineup.

You can see full details of her upcoming tour below. Tickets are available via the link.

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