Merging melancholy moodiness with upbeat tones, Sydney-based musician Milan Ring is haunting us with her ethereal sounds that transcend the present reality. Her tracks are laced with layers of meaning from the neo-soul ‘Obscured’, which delves into the concept of heritage displacement from her father’s point of view, to her latest track ‘Drifting’, a smooth alt-R&B ballad that addresses depression from a variety of standpoints. Milan is not only widely talented as an artist, having an impressive repertoire of musical skills, but she is also using her platform to share her thoughts on current issues and giving awareness to minorities. Milan’s recently performed ‘Drifting’ at Rekorderlig Sauna Sounds (yes, she played in a steamy hot room!), and we caught up with the talented songstress after, check out the video and interview below.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything inspires me, all other art forms, life experiences, the human experience and psychology inspires me for sure. Ascension. That inspires me.
You’re a singer, lyricist, rapper, guitarist, producer, mix & mastering engineer and label owner. Is there any aspect of the music industry that you haven’t yet dabbled into?
I think in this day and age it really helps to wear a lot of hats, especially when starting out. I have been self-managed which takes on a lot of facets of the music industry, accounting, self-booking etc.. Thankfully I have a team now, but I still see myself almost as business-minded as I am creative. One thing surprisingly I haven’t done yet though is DJ. DJ Milan coming to a club near you?.. or not 😛
Your latest track ‘Drifting’ speaks out about depression from various points of view. How important do you think it is to maintain a consistent dialogue surrounding mental health?
I think it is extremely important. It is a way that we can not feel so isolated and realise that we are all living out this human experience together, therefore feel unified and feel a sense of community. Conversations are so important. It is hiding away and trying to always a keep straight face that can be dangerous. Reach out to people, your doctor, helplines. There are a lot of resources available. Probably not enough, but they are still there.
How has working between Sydney and Los Angeles impacted your sound, and abilities as an artist?
I feel my time in LA really pushed my production and gave me an extra drive and hustle that I feel is not always here in Sydney. I feel we can get more complacent here as it is easier to have a good quality of life here, there is much more hustle in the States. But from my time with the Social Experiment Crew and Neff-U, I just learnt so much about production and collaboration and creation that I feel I have taken home with me to Sydney.
You’re a self-managed artist, with your tracks released under your all-encompassing creative organisation MXMAY. What made you decide to create under your own music label?
Well, I was a self-managed artist, thankfully I have had great mentors along the way and am now managed by Astral People. But in terms of self-releasing through my label MXMAY, basically, I just want to do things on my terms in my own time. I don’t want to be too sucked into a machine at this moment in time, I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing how I am doing it. Ha.
MXMAY has a very significant meaning, representing individuals that may not identify with a specific gender, while May is your grandmother’s name and means beautiful (Mei) in Chinese. Can you tell us more about the MX prefix and why this resonated with you?
I suppose because I have friends and family who do not pack neatly into these male and female boxes, I just want them to live in a world that they feel comfortable to be whoever they want to be. There are so many intersex, trans and non-binary people that have and are continuing to be completely marginalised by our society. So I like the idea of using this genderless prefix for a music (and in the future fashion) label that doesn’t discriminate.
Paradoxically MX is 1010 in roman numerals which is binary code, which can be seen as Male Female/ Ying Yang. So to me, MXMAY is really all-inclusive and signifies that everything/everyone is beautiful.
‘Obscured’ explores the displacement and disconnection resulting from moving between various shores. I can definitely relate, as the child of immigrants to not necessarily feeling at home in one place. Did growing up in Australia, where multiculturalism and diversity may have been lacking play a role in this for you?
Well, Obscured is actually written in the point of view of my father, but I definitely still feel a bit of a disconnection to my heritage which I wish I didn’t have. I am striving to connect more with my Chinese and Indian roots, it is a journey, but gratefully, for the most part, I have had quite a multicultural upbringing here in the inner west of Sydney and now even more so I find myself surrounded by the most beautiful friends with heritage from all over the world, there is a lot of connection in just that I believe.
Spirituality and personal growth seem to be constant themes evident in your music. Do you have any self-care rituals that have assisted you in this process?
I meditate every morning. I try to just breathe and centre throughout the day, keep myself as present as possible. I try to show as much compassion and gratitude as I can. And I try to feed my brain as much knowledge on all different topics as possible, especially in science and spirituality, I find a lot of peace in that.
You’ve curated a playlist exclusively for Subvrt, tell us about the tracks you picked.
I picked 5 chill R&B songs released this year that I love. Coincidentally all female artists.
What are you currently working on?
My next single! :O
Artist: Milan Ring @milan.ring
Photography: Gina Nero @ginanero
Interview: Sara Nicolette