TRACK-BY-TRACK: Amy Milner on her new EP ‘Big Bad Thoughts’

If you haven’t heard about Amy Milner yet, it’s about time you get to know your new musical crush.

Photo: Tim Larcombe
Photo: Tim Larcombe

Splitting her time between her home in Suffolk and the studio of long-time collaborator Tim Larcombe in Brighton, singer and songwriter Amy Milner has spent the past years working on her proof that pure beauty comes in the form of heartfelt lyrics and sonic-painted soundscapes.

Today, Amy Milner’s new EP Big Bad Thoughts is out, and in her own words, it’s “a story of dark and light, channeling a positive message and championing human strength through adversity.”

Through 5 individually strong tracks, Big Bad Thoughts showcases Milner’s ability to write intimate and vulnerable ballads as well as bombastic atmospheric dark-pop anthems. Topped with a razor-sharp vocal performance, Amy Milner has found the perfect recipe for 18:52 minutes for goosebumps and absolutely feeling alive.

We’ve reached out to Amy Milner to learn more about the thoughts, inspirations and secret stories behind these five gems. Here’s her track-by-track introduction to the new EP.

Listen here as you read along:

Wildside

– Written several years ago, I was really excited about getting to work on this song with producer Tim Larcombe. It’s about putting the brakes on a path that’s ultimately going to lead you into trouble, calling on that fighting spirit we all have within us and empowering ourselves to turn things around. Recording was lots of fun, at one point involving a team of chefs from our favourite restaurant bringing various pieces of kitchen equipment to the Brighton studio to record an alternative percussion track – listen closely, and you can hear the knife sharpener!

Closer

– An eerie, otherworldly number, calling out from a place of darkness and confusion. Like a lot of my songs, at its core it’s a piano/vocal track. Minimal, atmospheric production is provided by vocal effects and ambient guitar. We recently recorded a live performance of it from this amazing working wood barn (naturally), which you can find on YouTube: Closer (Live from Dylan’s Workshop).

Big Bad Thoughts

– “Big Bad Thoughts” was born from a musical idea Tim sent to me. I was home in Suffolk with a really bad cold, where I wrote the melody and lyrics with my voice sounding like something from a horror film. The chorus came to me while I was walking in the fields near my house – a little Lykke Li inspired. The ‘big bad thoughts’ are the ones that tell us we’re not good enough, the anxieties that eat away at us, the worries we bury deep inside our mind which can end up being so physically detrimental. Inspo for the massive beat in the second verse came from a scene we love in Twin Peaks, where Diane is looking completely bad ass to the sound of Nine Inch Nails.

Photo: Tim Larcombe

The ‘big bad thoughts’ are the ones that tell us we’re not good enough, the anxieties that eat away at us, the worries we bury deep inside our mind which can end up being so physically detrimental.

Sometimes

– This is the first one I wrote with Tim. He originally sent me a guitar idea, which is what I wrote the song to, but we ended up stripping everything back to just the vocal and going for Massive Attack vibes and Sigur Rós-eque piano instead. It’s this EP’s sunniest sentiment, about finding someone who really gets you and always manages to make things better. The dark of the lonely, troubled ‘before’ is echoed in the moody opening production, before the track evolves into its exultant instrumental close – it’s pretty cute!

Grow

– Another of my efforts from a while back. I was drinking tea, and I noticed the teabag had a little quote from Aeschylus on it: “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow”. I felt really inspired by that, and “Grow” was the result. I played Tim the old demo I had made back then, and he was keen to help bring it to life. I love how the production builds, the same refrain becoming increasingly energetic and exciting. I thought it really fitted into this new EP – the idea that we all have the ability inside of us to make change and grow. So often we have the power to improve our situation, and it all hangs on finding the courage to take that first small step…

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