Miel de Botton
THE fantastic Miel de Botton...
has been talking with me about her upcoming album, Surrender to the Feeling, and her new E.P., I Was Given Nature. The title-track from the E.P. has been used by the WWF so the songwriter discusses that; which albums and artists are important to her – she reveals how important nature and conservation are to her.
I ask de Botton about her training as a clinical psychologist and how that impacts her music; what she has planned going forward and the music she grew up around – she ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, Miel. How are you? How has your week been?
Hectic! I am alright but lots of exciting things have been flying at me. I have been coordinating a rehearsal schedule for my E.P. launch on 12th November with lots of media invitations. I have been asked to do five or six radio interviews and an interview for London Live (T.V.). This latter slot will be with the Director General of WWF, Marco Lambertini, to discuss my new song, I Was Given Nature, which has been taken up by them for their Connect2Earth education campaign.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hello! I am a Swiss singer/songwriter. I sing some chansons, some ballads and some more uptempo numbers in French and English. My first album, Magnetic, came out in March 2015. It was produced by Andy Wright, an amazing producer (Simply Red, Eurythmics and Jeff Beck). I have done two U.K. tours with John Barrowman and Rhydian and some festivals - Camp Bestival and CarFest.
You have an album coming out soon. Can you tell us about that and the sort of themes that inspired it?
My new album, Surrender to the Feeling, is available to pre-order on all platforms on 13th November and will launch on 1st March next year. This time I collaborated with a few different producers, Marc JB, Sam Swallow; James Sanger, Morten Schjolin and, of course, Andy Wright, who is also the album’s Executive Producer. The main theme umbrella is healing, whether through nature or our own natural emotions. My songs are about being contented in the silence and enjoying stillness, but also about dancing in joy and appreciating anything that brings joy.
You are a prolific art collector and trained as a clinical psychologist. Do you think those passions/experiences influenced your music career/path?
I feel a true work of art is about the beholder experiencing emotion. In the visual arts, I feel that a successful work of art is one that has touched you and moved you and that is what I try to do with my music. Of course, ultimately that is meant to lead you to a path of self-healing - exactly what a clinical psychologist sets out to do; so I do think these passions have influenced my musical career.
Did you get introduced to music at a young age? How important is your family regarding that love?
Yes! My dad was constantly playing Classical music throughout the house. He loved Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. I used to conduct to Mozart and was in the choir and musicals at school. As a family, we loved to listen to Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin and Albert Hammond. I used to sing All the Lonely People to my dad, who loved it. He also used to sing many French chansons to me as a child and I re-worked some of these for my album, Magnetic, as a tribute to him.
Your song, I Was Given Nature, was used by the WWF. How important was that to you? Is nature and conservation really important to you?
I grew up in Switzerland, where people are very ecologically-minded and I was always made very conscious of the beauty of nature by my (now) eighty-eight-year-old nanny, who took my brother and me for lengthy walks. Also, whilst I was at school my best friend’s father was very involved in the WWF; so very early on I was aware of the causes and the panda made its mark on me. I was absolutely thrilled when my song was taken up by WWF. I had written it originally following many tears listening to Michael Jackson’s Earth Song.
I wanted to write my own Earth Song and move people to action! I was hoping WWF might like the song but, in fact, I was blown away by their reaction. They even asked me to perform the song live for a function in Geneva and I was honoured to do so. I am about to host an event for my E.P. launch where WWF will talk and I have invited all the environmental charities that I am involved with, so that they can contribute to conservation discussions that are going to take place alongside the music.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Well. There is not much of it left, but I am happy to have achieved quite a few things at this stage. My year saw the completion of my album and performances at a few concerts plus some environmental charity work. The planning of the new album launch and next phases - for example, touring - are being worked on now and if I have all that in place by the end of the year it will be a great achievement for me.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Yes - the launch. After that; hopefully some touring, but that is all very much in the planning stage right now.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
What I think of straight away is a gig in Newcastle during the Rhydian tour when there were massive storms; trees on the line and total travel disruption. There was fantastic goodwill and collaboration among the band that were all trying to get there and arriving in the nick of time – missing the soundcheck and just about making the performance. A wonderful experience of team spirit!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Guilty by Barbra Streisand is one. I love her voice and Barry Gibb singing with her. It is just so romantic…
I love all ABBA albums and they never cease to inspire me.
I also love Leonard Cohen - The Best of Leonard Cohen (1975). His songs are so expressive and moving. They make me laugh and cry every time.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Michael Bublé. He just connects with the audience so much. Also; Barbra Streisand.
My rider would contain 85% Lindt chocolate and almonds.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Hopefully! We have something in the pipeline regarding a tour, but nothing confirmed yet. My next gig after the E.P. launch will be the album launch next spring and there will be some tickets on sale for that.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Perseverance...but also take breaks, because this business is tiring!
IN THIS PHOTO: PURDY at the 606 Club
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Check out my friend, PURDY. She has a gorgeous, mellow voice and sings jazzy songs of her own creation and some classics. She often sings at the 606 Club.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I take walks in nature and I have an amazing healer who gives me hand-on healing. I also like to sing and dance around my kitchen!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I love Andante, Andante by ABBA
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