Winner of triple j’s 2018 50 Songs in 5 Days competition, Sydney’s Milan Ring is one of Australia’s biggest up-and-coming artists. Previous winners of the competition include Thelma Plum, Nicole Millar, Lisa Mitchell, Tina Arena and plenty more.
Milan says the triple j Unearthed competition was a great way to collaborate and meet new people. She got to produce songs, make new friends, work with Thelma Plum and it was also great for social networking.
Influenced by her mother’s music growing up, Ring was exposed to the likes of Miles Davis, Quincey Jones, Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson. She says her mother listened to a lot of jazz and neo-soul.This influence has shaped her music into a moody blend of hip hop, soul and pop, with her own unique sound.
Ring has travelled a lot and spent quite a bit of time in the States working with other producers and seeing their workflow. A singer, rapper, multi-instrumentalist, producer and sound engineer, there’s nothing Ring can’t do and she is dedicated to the creative process.
In her opinion, there are many challenges to making music. She says finishing a song can be difficult and post-production and mixing can take a long time because there’s a lot of tweaking involved.
“I think the hardest thing about making music is trusting yourself and stepping out fearlessly,” Ring says.
She loves listening to music from all over the world, particularly soul and blues, because of her fascination with polyrhythms and approach to the beat. Ring says it’s that there are so many layers built on top of each other which really draws her to that type of music.
On her last tour, Ring sold out shows in Sydney and Melbourne – and a standout moment in her career.
“I could feel the support of where I’m from. I was so grateful and humble that it made me more energised to go out there,” Ring says. Performing used to be quite an anxiety-inducing affair for Ring, but that’s all gone. Now she’s happy to throw herself in the deep end and see what happens.
For Ring, every song and music project is different, so there’s no single message she’s trying to get across to listeners. Her single ‘Step Back’, which was released earlier this year, is for anyone who’s experienced any form of discrimination or bullying. It’s easy for all those negative things to weigh us down, but really, it’s a chance to take a step back.
While some songs may have a stronger message than others, she prefers to keep her music open to interpretation and hopes they will resonate with people. Chinese, Indian and Australian heritage, Ring says her cultural background doesn’t influence her creative process much, but it has shaped her as a person.
Dedicated to her music practice, Ring spends quite a bit of time in the studio. When we spoke to her, she’d cooped herself in the studio all day working on some new songs. She says she doesn’t always spend long days in the studio, but finds it helps her to get work done and allows creative juices to flow.
Milan Ring is one of many artists performing at Strawberry Fields this summer. She says if she could perform with anyone onstage during the festival it would be a tough decision because there’s so many great artists there, but Mildlife would be her pick.
While she was fixing the walls of her studio, she listened to them a lot. She says she’s been to Strawberry Fields with friends before and is excited to be performing this year.
Catch Milan Ring at Strawberry Fields (sold out) from Friday November 29 to Sunday December 1 in Tocumwal, New South Wales. Head to strawberry-fields.com.au for the full lineup.