“It’s a new, fresh sound from me,” says Milan of what’s to come from her in 2013. And though the sounds of Glassy Eyes, her forthcoming debut EP release, are a distinct step to the left from the neo-soul and jazz inflected music she’s performed up to this point, digging deep into the soul is still very much what her songs are about. Milan’s newest collection of songs is polished, but with a gritty edge. “I’m a conscious human being who is raw, real, evocative, deep and dark,” she says. “And I tell it how I see it.”
It’s over the past 12 months that Milan’s songwriting voice and sound has crystallised – coincidentally, it was in early 2012 that her studio union with Adit Gauchan (Horrorshow) began, the producer from Sydney’s Inner West instrumental in the gradual transformation of her sound.
Though sometimes starting from scratch, Adit has just as often reworked Milan’s own beats. And by adding layers of synths and other instrumentation, he’s brought a hip hop aesthetic to her work without it crossing into straight-up beats and rhymes territory. With Milan’s stunning guitar skills featuring and long-time collaborator Daniel Neurath on the keys, the trio have concocted a warm and melancholy pop-infused take on soul, with a coat of final mixdown gloss added by Mitch Kenny at 301 Studios.
From a lyrical perspective, Milan plays her cards close to her chest on Glassy Eyes – the songs draw on life experience, but the storytelling is cryptic and open to interpretation. What If is a primal exploration of lust and the chase for someone you can't have; Promises sees her switch between second and first person narration perspectives of an abusive relationship; topics like love, loss, depression, drugs, addiction and violence weave through her words. Passages of rap-influenced double-time singing, mixed with strong and soulful hooks (think Lauryn hill meets Frank Ocean), show the influence of the black music of North America, but her voice is still distinctly Australian.
Milan’s new musical approach comes with a new live show to match. In keeping with the live/programmed fusion of Glassy Eyes, electronic meets acoustic in a trio set-up that sees a drummer on kit and triggering drum samples, A Keys player playing across synths and samples, and Milan up front –showcasing both her voice and the lead guitar skills honed over years of improvisational playing.
With two single releases, vocals on a significant local hip hop release, and a songwriting sojourn to Los Angeles already locked in, it’s a voice you’ll be hearing a lot of as 2013 rolls on.