Sydney polymath Milan Ring has well and truly come into her own
Rekorderlig Sauna Sounds are all about embracing the unique, quirky and innovative – we’ve teamed up to present some of the country’s most trailblazing up and comers, getting them sweaty and ready to show off what makes them so special.
Milan Ring is an impressive example of what hard work paying off looks like. Over a string of self-released EPs, 2017’s Venus Fly Trap beat tape and an eclectic series of singles throughout this year, it seems like the Sydney musician has well and truly come into her own of late.
Ring recently rearranged ‘Drifting’ for an intimate live performance as part of Rekorderlig Sauna Sounds. “An interesting challenge” for the songwriter, the more sparse interpretation lends itself to the ambiance of the space.
Watch: Milan Ring performs ‘Drifting’ for Rekorderlig Sauna Sounds
Part of what makes Ring so impressive is the level of creative control she has over the project. A singer and rapper, multi-instrumentalist, producer and sound engineer, Ring is a dedicated polymath who recognises the value in understanding each part of the creative process.
“I think it’s important to me because I’m just always striving for authenticity, as much as possible,” says Milan. “Of course there’s so many influences, so everything is borrowed and shared anyway, but I think I definitely have a particular way I hear and see and visualise what a song is going to be like. In order for that to happen it helps to be across multiple areas of it.”
That said, Milan Ring frequently collaborates, but cites her knowledge of each stage of the process as massively beneficial in terms of communication. “It helps because even when you have a collaboration, you can have that dialogue because you actually understand what’s going on.
“I think I just don’t want to be naive, I want to be as well educated as I can be across all aspects of the music, and even the business side. It just makes it easier to communicate, and I think communication is really important.
There’s creative control for sure. That’s part of the reason why I’m independent. The idea of having someone else controlling me… We’re already controlled in so many ways in this life, to be even more controlled that would make me miserable. I’m down to have a fun life.”
Case in point, Ring’s handful of singles this year were all released independently through her own MXMAY label, a mixed medium platform that Ring intends to use to integrate music, fashion, and more. Tracks like ‘Unbounded’, ‘2063’ and ‘Obscured’ all showcase different strengths to the versatile songwriter – showcasing elements of R&B and jazz, synths and guitars, but all have a certain distinctive cohesion.
Her most recent single, ‘Drifting’, was a collaboration with Sydney keyboardist Marcello Maio. A tender, brooding track, it’s a step above – Ring has officially come into her own with the track, which she’ll officially launch with a headline show at Waywards in Newtown later this month.
On stage, her performances combine electronics, guitar and vocals in a way that is arguably more human than many of her contemporaries. While earlier days saw her running tracks via laptop and a controller, Milan now incorporates real-time looping for a more live feel.
“I’m still figuring it out, it’s ever-changing,” she explains. “I found myself playing so much of the track through the laptop, it was very full. For live, I kind of like it to be a little more stripped back and different, so the looper kind of limits me, in a good way.”
For Ring, having so many aspects available on a laptop, every effect, felt overwhelming. Live looping means she’s able to produce relatively on the spot in a way that’s interactive. “Being able to create things, sample and change them on the fly means every time I do the song it’s different. I like that because every set and every crowd is different, and you can respond to that.”
It may be little surprise that Milan Ring has a fairly large vault of songs she’s working on at all times – so releasing singles at her whim over the course of the year has suited her creative process just fine.
“I found myself trying to create an EP towards the back end of last year and not really knowing what that looked like,” says Ring. “So I was just like, I’m going to do a track every two months, and that’s basically what I did.
Because I was independent I could just do whatever, I could be like ‘I feel like this song is ready and I want it out now’, and I worked on it, finished it and it came out. Then I worked my ass off to get the next one out. Then I met Astral [People] and the plan kind of shifted. They have a bit more structure obviously, but I was aiming for a song every two months inevitably at the time.”
Looking ahead, it’s interesting to think about what comes next for Milan Ring, with her recent signing to Astral People being the first management signing for the iconic company since Winston Surfshirt two years ago.
No matter what the path looks like, it seems like it will be on Milan Ring’s own terms – which is exactly what makes it so exciting.
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