© Nicole Corbett

Milky Day on his roots and ‘Tall poppy syndrome’

We’re back with a new interview and this time we chatted with the R&B singer-songwriter Milky Day. If you like a good lo-fi R&B track, keep on reading!

When did you realize you wanted to become a singer?

I was actually interested in music production first, before I knew I wanted to become a singer. Since I had some prior singing experience participating in various clubs during high school, I gradually started incorporating vocals into my production throughout college. Eventually, I began writing full verses and hooks, and experimenting with different kinds of melodies, rhythms, and timbres. As my music gained some traction and my fan base grew larger, I became more committed to becoming a singer and building a “Milky Day” brand around it. 

I read that you started producing at the age of 8. How has your style evolved since then? Or did you always know you wanted to make R&B?

Actually, I started playing piano at the age of 8. I was first introduced to music production when I was in middle school (so when I was around 12 years old), when I downloaded FL Studio on my laptop and created weird dubstep beats just for fun. It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year of college that I revisited music production, this time using Logic Pro X as my digital audio workstation. 

People have mentioned that all of my songs have a certain Milky Day quality, but my style has definitely evolved over time. I started off making more lofi-type of beats, explored some K-Indie, then moved onto R&B. I really love the smooth, soulful colors that R&B has to offer, so I definitely intend on having some sort of R&B influence in my future releases. More recently, I’ve also been exploring some newer genres like dream-pop, edm/house, and funk.

Where does the name Milky Day originate from?

It’s actually a semi-arbitrary name that some friends and I came up with. During my early days of music production, I worked on music with two college friends, Christina and Ooga. One day, we brainstormed some names that we could call ourselves, and we thought that “Milky Day” sounded cool – it gave off gentle, pastel vibes, and the name itself had a ring to it. We didn’t end up making much music together afterwards though, so with their permission, I continued to release music under that name – and now here I am!

You grew up in New Zealand but you moved to the US for university. Do you think moving changed or influenced your approach to music?

Yes, for sure! I don’t think the music scene is very big in New Zealand, and it was only until I moved to the US that I was surrounded by such diverse musicians and creatives. This made it much easier to meet people to work with, whether it be for a musical collaboration or a multimedia project such as music videos.

Also, in New Zealand there is something called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, which is a tendency for people to criticize those who work really hard to become successful. It’s a very strange phenomenon, and I think it’s related to the laid-back culture of New Zealand. Anyways, when I moved to the US, I was surprised to find that things worked the opposite way – everybody seemed to be grinding in their own area of interest and they’d be praised or rewarded for their hard work. This motivated me to work hard in making music and diligently craft my style and brand over time.

How was working with Jimmy Brown?

It was great working with Jimmy, he’s a really talented musician with cool ideas. I discovered Jimmy Brown’s music on Soundcloud really early on, when we were both very low-key artists. His song “Lay Me Down” caught my attention and I flicked him a message on Soundcloud mentioning that I liked his sound. We then sent beats and ideas back and forth, and ended up working remotely on three songs together (“Dark Warm”, “Am I Different”, and “Favor”). I also met up with him once or twice when I visited South Korea a few years ago. 

Over the years, we’ve been exploring our own sound and going down slightly different paths though, so we haven’t worked on a song together in a while. But I still have huge respect for his style and hustle, and hope to work on a project with him again soon. 

I read that you’re currently working on an upcoming EP. Can you share some details on that yet? Is there a theme or story to the EP? 

Yes, it’s a really cool project that I’m excited to share soon! In a nutshell, the EP is about the inner demons that people deal with in their life. The EP explores the various stages that one may experience as they discover the demons that lurk in their reality, attempt to escape from this reality, then eventually come to terms with their demons. Previously, I had written mostly about themes of love and heartbreak, so I wanted to share something that’s a bit different and a bit more universal.

What are some of the core messages that you want to share with listeners? 

First of all, I want to thank all of my fans for enjoying my music and supporting my journey – I wouldn’t be here without you! Music is something I’ve always wanted to pursue as I see it as a universal language that allows me to express some of my most vulnerable memories, emotions, and thoughts. My music is here to remind you that you’re not alone when you’re riding through the highs and lows in life, and I hope my songs can provide you with the reassurance, support, and solace that you may need.

You opened for Shaun during his NYC concert. How was that experience? 

It was amazing! I was a bit nervous on the days leading up to the performance, but on the night I felt confident and had a lot of fun with it. Thankfully, the crowd seemed well-aligned with my target demographic as the nightclub is popular amongst Asian Americans, so they were energetic and engaged with my performance. Some of my friends from college came to support as well, which was reassuring. I’m really grateful for this opportunity and look forward to throwing more of my own shows later this year. 

Are you planning to go on the road yourself for concerts soon?

Nothing is set in stone at the moment, but it’s on the roadmap. My management company, Unbound Entertainment Group, specializes in organizing and managing concerts, so we’ll be working together closely to plan a tour to various cities. Keep an eye out for announcements later this year!

If you were to introduce your music to new listeners, which two tracks would you use to encompass your style and message and why?

I would recommend checking out ‘Take it Slow’ and ‘Feeling Blue’, two of my personal favorites. ‘Take it Slow’ is a more upbeat, sensual song that incorporates elements of hip hop and pop, whereas ‘Feeling Blue’ is more of a moody, melancholic song with a smooth R&B production. These two songs demonstrate my forte in the R&B style while revealing both my cheerful and somber sides. These two contrasting angles relate to my previous message about how life presents both highs and lows, and how it led to my desire to convey emotions that reflect both sides of the spectrum. 

Go follow Milky Day on Instagram here!

A writer with a slight coffee addiction and a tendency to find K-Indie gems in the YouTube rabbit hole.