Exclusive interview: Five Minutes with MILENA

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Singer-songwriter MILENA has released her single ‘Higher Hopes’ via Milena Lainovic. The single features on her EP of the same title. MILENA is known for her performance for Disney’s Buena Vista International resulting in her being placed on the “Hits Sheet” compilation, which features musicians like George Michael and Ronan Keating. The songstress grew up in Montenegro, playing the classical guitar and piano. She would go on to study at a local music college. Through the years MILENA has won numerous awards for her work and has made appearances on children’s television programs, musical theatre, and beyond. The songwriter sound sits closest to the work of Norah Jones, Jennifer Paige, and Lisa Stansfield.

We find out the finer details about MILENA in the exclusive below. 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I was born into an artistic family, I was a child TV star, it sounds weird to say that now, but I used to be featured regularly on TV shows in Montenegro, it was a natural progression for me, it really is in my blood.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

The idea. All ideas come when I’m sitting at my piano and I’m playing various chords, writing notes, and collaborating with my producer, and of course with a nice glass of red wine, that always helps.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Not this album but that’s definitely something I will be expanding on in the future.

What’s on your current playlist?

Some old school 90’s acid jazz, Louise Cole, Brotherly, Amp Fiddler, Shon Aalegra, good “old” Chaka Khan

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I love bringing my music to life and performing on stage. I really thrive off the energy of my fans, so I’m really interactive with my fans and any audience I’m performing in front of. I like to bring them into my sets, I sing to them of course but I talk to them a lot too. I’ve got quite a big personality on stage so the energy bouncing in the room is always electric.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

As a classically trained pianist, I always appreciate a good piano, Steinway being my most favourite to play on. I don’t own one for now, but I have my trusted digital Yamaha, which I then record parts at home on Logic Pro X.Then send it to my producer Nikola Kovacevic to find that special sound that we both crave to hear.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I work very closely with my producer creating sounds together so I’m always fully prepared when I get to the studio like I know exactly how I want the session to flow, but then, lots of those magical moments are made spontaneously, when I just let go.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

In truth, there wasn’t and I know this sounds so clichéd but I honestly was born to do this. I came from an artistic family and from a young age began playing piano, I am a classically trained guitar player & pianist. I transitioned from high school to the music academy and during those years when my friends were singing into their hairbrush, I was at TV studios getting ready to film or recording radio shows at the national radio station broadcast across the Balkans. I absolutely love what I do and I’m forever grateful for my parent’s introduction to music, likely from the womb.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Nothing really specific, except I don’t go anywhere without my sparkly mic!

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Some of my close friends like Lisabel & Princess Freesia

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I love to travel and I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to many fantastic destinations. Whether I’m on the beach or in the middle of a bustling city, I’m more in touch with myself and I can always somehow draw inspiration. When I’m in London this is riding my bike off the beaten track, being at one with nature, and also spending time with my best friend Angela. I find the world a big dish of creative ideas for me.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I’m a classically trained pianist so I always appreciate a really good piano, Steinway being my most favourite to play on. Until the day I will be fortunate enough to own one, I have my trusted digital Yamaha. I record parts at home on my piano and Logic Pro X then send it to my producer Nikola Kovacevic he also plays an array of instruments, so we collaborate closely to find that sound we both crave to hear.

Any side projects you’re working on?

I’m already planning my third album/EP release whilst also recording some backing for other musicians. I also make short YouTube videos of my music, supported by my original music, which I absolutely love, you should check them out ☺

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Despite my years of experience working on TV and radio, I’ve certainly refined my craft. Every day is like a learning process for me. My live stage performances, practicing, and even down to what I wear on stage, has evolved over the years.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

I’m planning lots more live gigs both with my band and also solo projects. I will also be performing in Europe and North America, so I’m really looking forward to the latter part of the year when I can finally get going.

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