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About Mica Millar

Already fiercely championed by a slew of highly esteemed collaborators and tastemakers across the UK and US, independent, Soul newcomer Mica Millar’s debut album – “Heaven Knows” was released in June 2022 to critical review.

 

'Heaven Knows' 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 with an authentic ability to capture 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), Marc Morrison (Piano) [members of Emile Sande’s live band], 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).

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 works. 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 album track "Flashlights" to that of the legendary 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 (Famous for his work producing Etta James and credited as a producer/engineer/arranger on Prince’s 'Purple Rain' album. Rivkin was also the engineer responsible for the infamous concert recording of the title track). Rivkin contributed to the album as a second arranger on "Fools Fate" 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 I've achieved. I'm very grateful to the many talented people who have put so much time and effort into 'Heaven Knows'. I couldn't have done it without them.”

‘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 was 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 engineer Lewis Hopkins who Mica would go on to work with recording at Middle Farm Studio's after he 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 gained her support from Craig Charles (BBC 6 Music).

 

Building a live audience from the ground up, Mica's first headline show was at fifty capacity venue 'The Castle' in Manchester's northern quarter in 2017. The packed out debut show was followed by her first single launch for 'My Lover' at 150 cap basement venue 'The Whiskey Jar'. With queues around the corner and people having to be turned away, a buzz had begun to build in her hometown.

 

Next was The Deaf Institute, a prestigious but modest two-hundred-and-fifty capacity venue known for hosting on-the-up touring and local acts. Launching her second single 'Not The First' it was another sell out show performed to critical review. 

 

In 2018, Mica toured 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.

 

In 2019, she 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 at the London Palladium and Manchester Apollo.

 

Now in 2022, following two years of lock down restrictions and the album's completion and release, Mica will perform two very special album launch shows at London's Jazz Cafe on Saturday 17th September and a hometown show at the iconic Albert Hall in Manchester on Sunday 25th September. Tickets are available here.

"Albert Hall is such a beautiful space and ever since I started performing it has been a dream of mine to headline Albert Hall. After I shot the video for 'Heaven Knows' there I just though, 'I have to go for it. If not now then what other time would be more fitting?"

 

"I do hope to perform in other cities around the UK and further afield in the not too distant future but these will be the two key shows in 2022 in the UK and I hope people from across the Northwest who have been supporting me and coming to my shows won't mind a little bit of travel to come to the Manchester show which will be an incredibly special, one-off album launch show."

'Heaven Knows' is out now and available to buy on Limited Edition 12" Vinyl and CD and digital download here. It's also available on Itunes and other streaming and download platforms here.