The 2,000 capacity venue is appropriate, featuring ornate cathedral ceiling for a Sunday Service gig. Mica Millar also recorded the video to the album’s title track at Manchester’s Albert Hall.
The fourteen-track album finds Mica Millar exploring human nature, spirituality, oppression, inequality, love and empowerment. It draws on soul, blues, gospel and jazz, with nods to girl groups of the ’60s, ’70s an Motown.
In the run up to the show, her biggest ever headline gig, we caught up with the artist to hear more about recording the album and performing live.
You recently released your debut album Heaven Knows. What are your thoughts now that it’s out there?
It’s been a long journey creating the album and getting everything ready to finally release it so it’s been really amazing to finally put it out and get such an amazing response and so much support.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing and recording process for the album?
I was in recovery from a spinal injury, and it was lock down when I was writing and recording this record which came with it’s challenges. But looking back this actually 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.
“this ultimately made me a much better and more experienced producer”
What was the biggest challenge you faced whilst writing and recording it?
… creating music during Covid lockdowns was challenging, having to adapt to remote recording sessions for example. But I feel this ultimately made me a much better and more experienced producer as I was able to collaborate with lots of musicians from across the UK and US which wouldn’t necessarily have been possible under other circumstances.
That first time that you listened back to the final recorded version album in full, what were your immediate thoughts?
Because I wrote, arranged and self-produced the album, I had worked on the songs, instrumentation, recordings and sat in on the mastering sessions and then put together the running order and this was a process that lasted over three years so when I’d finished it, it took some time before I could listen to it again with any real perspective. I think the first time I listened to it like that was when I got the vinyl test pressings and played all four sides back to back in my mum’s kitchen and it just felt very triumphant to finally have a finished body of work that I was very proud of.
And you’ve now released the video for More Than You Give Me. It’s a stunning track and great video. Can you talk us through the creative process for the video?
The concept for this video was about falling in and out of love. It’s about the places you go to in your mind when you’re fighting against the end of a relationship that you know isn’t right for you and being pulled towards someone else. I developed the concept Director, Matthew Boone who also worked with me on the music video for the album’s title track, Heaven Knows. It was a particularly challenging shoot with a lot of different art department set ups but we had such an amazing team on board and I was really happy with how it turned out.
You are set to headline at Manchester’s Albert Hall on 25 September. It’s a huge hometown show. What are your thoughts as you build up to it?
I’m really excited to headline Albert Hall and properly launch the album with this live show – I’ve gigged in Manchester and around the UK and Albert Hall is by far my favourite venue so to be launching the album here is really amazing.
What goes through your mind when you’re on stage effectively sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings through your music?
To be honest, I’m focussed on the song and connecting with it when I’m on stage. Singing is like a meditation for me and when there are people there connecting with what you’re trying to express it’s quite a magical thing. I do still get nervous from time to time but once I get past the first song, usually that starts to lessen and I can just enjoy the moment I’m in on stage.
The first time we saw you live we were completely blown away. For those who haven’t seen you perform live before, how would you describe your live shows?
I love to evoke emotions through my performances. I once had a lady come up to me after my show and she said “I’ve been married for forty years and I’ve never seen my husband cry until tonight” I’m always really humbled by those sorts of comments – I think it is really beautiful when music brings emotions out of you that you didn’t know were there. But there is definitely a hopefulness to my songs as opposed to them just being sombre so I like to think there are tears of joy and tears of connectedness.
How do you prepare for live shows?
We’ve been rehearsing the live show over a number of months and for a big production like this there are lots of moving parts, not just in terms of the musical performance but also things like lighting design, sound production, stage direction and choreography, styling etc there are lots of amazingly creative people in Manchester right now, working behind the scenes to make this show an incredibly special one.
What do you have planned next?
I’ll be taking a very long-awaited break and going on holiday somewhere hot to lie on a beach and drink a pina colada hopefully haha… but after that I’m really looking forward to touring and there is still a lot more to come which I unfortunately can’t announce just yet but keep an eye on my socials for updates.
When does Mica Millar headline at Manchester’s Albert Hall?
Mica Millar headlines at Manchester’s Albert Hall on 25 September 2022 accompanied by a ten-piece band. Tickets are available from the Albert Hall website.
image of Mica Millar courtesy Jallcockfox Photography