By Wills Morgan
She has arrived. She’s at this year’s Bestival on the Isle of Wight. Her album’s recorded, and her EP will reach us in a matter of weeks. Italian Vogue will feature her in a documentary on their website next month. And it goes without saying that MISTY MILLER has played a set or two at…The Island Experiment.
The business of the EXPERIMENTALISTS can be described simply: we aim to do what we do with as much joy as is possible. We ‘spread the love’ in every place we go: making sure there is spare time for a drink at the bar when not doing what we do so well.
The main base of our activities is (of course) THE ISLAND in the wilds of Kensal Green: but we in the gang have recently established two new monthly residencies.
There’s the Saturday night we’ve started to do at the TABERNACLE in nearby NOTTING HILL. It is already a rip-roaring success: a seemingly endless parade of musical talent that culminates in an all-star jam that’s makes you want to dance all night…and not ever stop!
Then there is the BOUDOIR evening, which is located on the KINGS ROAD (number 107 to be exact) and occurs on the last Thursday of every month (meaning you can still get there this month folks!)
It is through these ventures that WADE BAYLISS (our fearless leader and host) is able to introduce a large number of up and coming artists to our Experimental stage: it helps to expand both our experiences and their abilities. Once in a while…it happens that your columnist can encounter the major star in the making. And in Miss Misty Miller…well…wow.
MISTY is sixteen years young. She is charming (not allure: charm). She holds her ukelele in her hands, and she strums. The songs she writes are topical: about London life, young love, vampires, and such.
They are incredibly able, WELL-CRAFTED SONGS. In the fifth song of her Tabernacle set, Misty switches from strumming to plucking. The resulting effect is so beautifully sounding to my ears that I still fail in my struggle to find descriptive words for it.
Misty has been making her journey down the rock'n'roll highway since the age of nine. She draws some of her inspiration from such old-worldly classics as Elvis P and Billie H. Other interests include philosophy, psychology and…skulls.
But it is the sound of the SOUTH LONDONER’s soulful singing (and her confident way with a lyric) which is adding to her world-wide fan base rather quickly. Misty has an original talent and a ‘take’ on popular music that is sure to break through the pack.
Now…about the instrument that Misty has chosen to accompany her on her songwriting journey. The UKELELE is not as popular as ‘pop’ music, but it is indeed popular.
Originally a Portuguese creation, its adopted home is Hawaii where it became everybody’s favourite SMALLER version of a GUITAR. It's relatively cheap to buy, and portable. And as for the name: uku means 'gift' and lele means 'to come'.
There's been a surge in popularity for the family of ukelele instruments in the 1990s via individuals like GEORGE HARRISON and groups such as the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.
In 2004 a melodious mash-up of 'Over the Rainbow' and What A Wonderful World' made for a nicer planet...briefly. The singer was the extra-ordinary ISRAEL KAMAKAIWIWO'OLE. He died not so long ago; a fine ambassador for Hawaii, and their music.
And now comes the turn of MISTY MILLER, the youngest (and only girl) in a family of musicians. The first ukulele was a gift from her father…and the connection was instantaneous. It’s clear that she has worked hard to develop all areas of her talent: many of the songs are written for her close selection of friends.
Oh…and Misty can sing. Really, really sing. It's so distinctive. She was well prepared for the amount of success generated by an impromptu ‘open mike’ appearance at the 2009 BESTIVAL. As I’ve said at the top of this here column, she’s going back to the Bandstand just so she can knock ‘em sideways with that voice, them songs…and her ukulele.
Help is conveniently available. Her three older brothers are supportive, and she has procured a good manager who was kind and patient with me asking one or two questions.
As an extra plus, BURBERRY, the stylish house of British fashion attire, fragrances and the bespoke, has placed Misty on their roster of artists they are inspired to promote. Earlier this year they filmed a delightful performance of 'Remember' (a signature single) and put it out there as part of BURBERRY ACCOUSTIC.
Misty is out there performing and displaying her wares and talents beyond years. She's at the GREEN NOTE, CAMDEN TOWN on August 29: a week later, it's the NOTTING HILL ARTS CLUB. In late September, she'll play the APPLE STORE, LONDON and the nearby COBDEN CLUB in quick succession.
Good luck, Misty! Wade and all the gang all look forward to seeing you sometime soon for a few songs back at our place…which is that mid-week extravaganza…THE ISLAND EXPERIMENT.
Wills Morgan is a writer/director, performing artist, practical musicologist and all-round cultural infidel. He publishes his own blog in the following link: www.myspace.com/willwithhans
Photographs courtesy of Nick Dorey and Misty