Jazz Vocal Sensation Debuts 4th Album “In the Moonlight”

Thursday, December 1, 2011 14:51

An Interview with Sophie Milman

by: Casey Pukl

Growing up in communist Russia and then moving to Israel, Sophie Milman didn’t grow up with much— except for her father’s record collection. Milman credits that record collection for being the “glue” that held her family together. I think at this point, we’re all thankful for that collection, because without it, we might not have one of the greatest jazz vocalists of our time.

The 28 year-old international sensation has been touring the world’s most prestigious venues and receiving critical acclaim from end to end of the globe since she was barely out of high school. She has even earned a Juno Award. Her latest album, In the Moonlight, is one of her greatest to date. Showcasing her incredible maturity, sultry voice, and a fantastic collection of songs, the record is a true reflection of where Milman is at this point in her life. Fortunately I had the opportunity to speak with her this morning and discuss her record, vocal health, and how she’s grown.

CP: Tell me a little bit about this latest record. I’m in love with the cover of, “So Sorry” that is on there!

SM: Thank you! I had really wanted to make a record that was very romantic and lush. We used a lot of strings and accordion to achieve that, and then harmonica, and some other quirky instruments as well. I wanted the record to reflect where I am now in my career and my life. I’m more mature now, I’m married, I’m a bit older, and I think this does fit that. I also wanted to make a record that was texturally interesting. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. People have been responding to it, and especially “So Sorry”. Younger people have really been responding to that tune. It’s one that I can really relate to. I can relate to being tempermental, emotional, all of that. I don’t play fair when I argue sometimes, and the ones that bear the brunt of it are my husband and my parents. I start to argue, and two minutes in I feel guilty because I know I’m not being fair, and the song really addresses that emotion. It’s a great song.

CP: Did you choose all of the songs for the album?

SM: I did. My producer actually suggested the Feist song and a few others, but I definitely had a wish list. Jazz singers, we keep lists. You know, we always keep an index in our heads. I keep a list of standards, pop songs, and anything else I think would be interesting. Going in to record the album I had a list. I had suggestions from my producer and the label, and even my husband, but ultimately I chose what I did. I need to commit to a song to really deliver it properly, and there are some songs that I just can’t connect with, and won’t do. I’m now more confident about what I can deliver. 

CP: The album absolutely sounds like a more confident version of you than we’ve ever heard previously.

SM: Thank you. That’s definitely something I was going for.

CP: I know you lost your voice a little while back. Has that changed the way you approach your performances? 

SM: Definitely. I suffered from voice loss in 2009, so it’s been a little while since then, and I’ve been back to Anthology since then, but it definitely took a while to get out of my funk. It was traumatic. It’s actually really comforting to see that now singers have become, no pun intended, more vocal about it. You know, it was something you never used to hear about, and you think you’re the only one, but now you’ve heard about Adele’s throat surgery and Keith Urban had some trouble. Surgery is a bit extreme, but most singers at some point will go through this. In my case, it was a matter of over use and poor technique. It really affected my confidence and self of self. But now I have some different routines and warm ups. I actually started taking voice lessons via Skype in January of this year from my pianist’s girlfriend who is fantastic. She’s a bit of a drill seargent, and it’s still hard, but I’m much better off now. This tour has been tough, I got sick into it, but now I have the technique to still help me deliver.

It also helps that I have this new album. I now have this tangible, great record that really helped to lessen the hold that the voice loss had on me. I’m a different singer now.

CP: Do you have any one favorite song from this record? 

SM: “Til There Was You” is my favorite. It’s been an incredible important song in my life. It’s the first song I learned in English, and it’s one of my Dad’s favorites. I used to sing it for him, and now when I sing it, it takes me back to being 7 years old. I have a bit of a unique life story, and music was really the glue for our family. All of the songs really take me back. Every time I perform these songs, I get more committed to them, and there’s even more energy behind them each time.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about returning to Anthology? What can our audience be excited to see?

SM: We’ve got a pretty good show happening this time. We’ve  been touring for two weeks, and we’ve been getting a really great response- huge encores, standing ovations. We must be doing something right! But I always try to put on a really energetic show. I do a lot of ballads and there’s a lot of emotional songs, and people always ask how I can be mature enough to know what they truly mean at 28. I like to explain what the songs mean to me and how they fit into my life. Because of my unique upbringing and story, I matured faster than most people. I like to explain that to the audience. But I’ve also got an amazing band. They’re young and just super committed and talented. It’ll also be nice to have a few days in San Diego. It’ll be the first time we have a few days to relax, so we’ll go check out the zoo and the fantastic food! I’m excited to come back. We’ll have a great show!

Be sure to check out our Spotify playlist of Sophie’s music (trust me, you don’t want to miss her version of Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” and Feist’s “So Sorry”). Be sure to get your tickets to her show on Sunday night while you still can!

Sophie Milman Favorites

WHAT: Sophie Milman
WHEN: Sunday, December 4, 2011, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $10-$39 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile