About Mica Millar
Already fiercely championed by a slew of highly esteemed collaborators across the UK and US, independent, Soul newcomer Mica Millar’s forthcoming debut album – “Heaven Knows” (Out June 2022), is self-written, arranged and produced with inspiration drawn from a plethora of vintage soundscapes, notably, soul, blues, gospel and jazz. Respectful nods are paid to girl groups of the 60's and 70's and classic Motown, giving her songs a timeless quality that is both reassuringly familiar yet distinctively hers.
Those fortunate enough to have witnessed Mica on stage will have a clear idea of who she is: a bold, authentic talent with an ageless tone to her voice and an artist who has honed a distinctive talent for capturing hearts and minds with her powerful performances delivered with passion, grit and class in abundance.
In a creative pursuit that has spanned almost three years, “Heaven Knows” finds Mica exploring themes of human nature, spirituality, love, oppression, inequality and female empowerment. The album’s initial recording sessions took place at Middle Farm Studios, in Devon with a tight-knit team who laid the foundations for this courageous debut. Alongside guitarist Miles James (Michael Kiwanuka, Tom Misch, Cleo Soul) were Jonathan Tuitt (Drums), Arran Powell (Bass) [members of Emile Sande’s live band], Marc Morrison (Piano), lead engineer Lewis Hopkins (who Mica cites as a mentor who was instrumental in teaching her about live sound recording and sonics in the early stages of the albums production) and assistant engineer and photographer Andrew Thomas (who Mica later worked with on the album's sleeve photograph - coming soon!).
Against all odds, ‘Heaven Knows’ was completed during a tumultuous time in Mica’s life. Not only having to adapt to the effects of COVID on the industry - shifting from studio sessions to remote recording under lock down restriction, a big enough feat in itself, but in 2020 Mica’s world was turned upside down when she broke her back, narrowly escaping permanent paralysis from the waist down. In extreme pain and having to learn to walk again, all recording came to a halt and nine months on Mica found herself still recovering from her injuries, amongst which, her core muscles, formerly powering her ever present, soaring vocals, had deteriorated. But instead of giving up, Mica pushed through these challenges with determination, taking on rigorous rehabilitation and never losing sight of her vision for the album.
“I didn't want Covid or my accident to impact my vision for the record. In fact, the time in recovery and lock down allowed me to think bigger and better in the end and ultimately become a much more experienced producer. Working one on one with musicians remotely really opened up the possibilities for collaborating with people I had always wanted to work with (particularly people in the US) and this was so important for being able to achieve both the performances and sonics I wanted for each song on the record".
Notably, the fourteen track debut has been mixed by multi-platinum Producer/Engineer Brian Malouf, known for engineering Michael Jackson’s Bad album and working with Motown legend Stevie Wonder amongst many other Grammy award-winning work. Completing mixing sessions with Mica via Zoom from his state of the art studio facility in LA, Malouf credits Mica as a talent that is “every engineer’s dream” with a clear vision and outstanding songs, likening her production approach on one particular album track to that of Quincey Jones.
Amongst those also credited on ‘Heaven Knows’ are esteemed bassist, Jerry Barnes (Whitney Houston, Nile Rodgers, Chic) who adds his signature bass sound to single ‘Preacher Man’, pianist/organist Bobby Sparks (Snarky Puppy, Kirk Franklin), bassist and engineer Vince Chiarato (Black Pumas), bassist Brandon Rose (Marcus Miller) and David Z Rivkin (A producer/engineer/arranger on Prince’s album “Purple Rain” and the engineer responsible for the infamous concert recording of the title. David has also previously produced for Etta James any many others). Rivkin contributed to the album as a second arranger on one of the album tracks and also linked Mica up with Prince/Fleetwood Mac organist Rickey Peterson to perform on the same track.
“It has been really amazing to work with people who have played on some of my favourite records of all time. Doing that from my home studio in Manchester was incredibly surreal”. says Mica.
Recorded between Manchester, Devon, New York, Minneapolis, Nashville, LA and other locations across the US and Mastered at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, Mastering Engineer, Geoff Pesche (Adele, Ed Sheeran), cites 'Heaven Knows' as the "the best project he's worked on at Abbey Road Studios in 2021" and predicts Mica will be “the most exciting new artist releasing music in 2022”. Continuing, “I work on around 50 albums a year at Abbey Road, very few make it onto my iPod. This went straight on”.
Mica’s distinct vision is one that’s already earned her renowned credibility within the industry and it’s her creativity, drive and attention to detail that has made ‘Heaven Knows’ the album it is. Her headstrong mindset of “if you want to do something, it’s up to you to make it happen,” has allowed Mica to independently produce a record that, according to Pesche both “musically and sonically stands up alongside any major label record” that would usually come through Abbey Road's doors.
“You need a lot of self-belief and a strong work ethic to complete a project of this scale independently. I never lost motivation but I certainly had periods of doubt about my capabilities and at times the challenges of this album were completely overwhelming. Finishing the record and overcoming these doubts has been a massively liberating experience. I’m really proud of what has been achieved.”
‘Heaven Knows’ is a timeless collection of modern soul showcasing a confident new artist who’s not only found her own voice but one that’s put everything life has thrown at her into her art.
Born and raised in Manchester Mica grew up in a musical family - her father a seasoned session drummer who toured with the likes of Sweet Sensation and her mother a former Promotions Executive at EMI. Exploring songwriting from as early as eight years old, Mica independently released her first two, self-penned and produced solo singles “My Lover” and “Not The First” in 2017/18, receiving ongoing support from BBC Introducing Manchester who continue to cite her as “One of the best vocalists in the UK”.
Nationally, Mica has been awarded BBC Introducing prestigious "Single of The Week”, filmed a live session for BBC Introducing with BBC Northwest TV, performed both with The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and as part of BBC Children in Need, and gained spot plays on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show plus national playlist support across the BBC’s 40 regional stations.
Her third single, “The Defender”, (released in 2018) caught the attention of Goldie (MBE) after they met backstage at a festival in Herefordshire. Goldie subsequently joined Mica on production duties alongside James Davidson (the pair known as 'Subjective') for the finished release. It was in fact, Goldie who introduced Mica to Lewis Hopkins (lead engineer on the initial album recording sessions at Middle Farm Studios) and whom mastered 'The Defender' back in 2018.
2020 saw Mica collaborate with 6 Music favourite, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Lack of Afro on a fourth release entitled “Wait For Me”, which featured on BBC Radio 4 Loose Ends and specialist shows across BBC 6 Music.
Since 2017 Mica has toured extensively with her ten-piece band headlining shows at prestigious venues across the Northwest including a sell out hometown show at Manchester’s Band on The Wall to critical review. She also teamed up with Joy Division/New Order bassist, Peter Hook and The Manchester Camerata Orchestra as a guest lead vocalist for "Joy Division Orchestrated" – which included shows at The Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House. Mica is confirmed to join them again in October 2022 for two very special performances at the London Palladium and Manchester Apollo.
Releasing the first single from her debut 'Preacher Man' on Friday 28th January 2022, Mica’s debut album ‘Heaven Knows’ will be released in June 2022 and Mica will be performing a headline UK tour later this year (2022).