The penultimate article celebrating women in music is the brand new single from Manchester based soul singer Mica Miller 'Girl'. Released 8th March in celebration of International Women’s Day 2022.
‘Girl’ is Mica's fifth single and in all honesty on my first listen I could fell myself feeling uplifted, inspired and those serotonin levels rising. If soul music is your jam then this track is going to be right up your street!
Exploring female empowerment, racial injustice, relationships and human nature with this single had the opportunity to collaborate with some real musical royalty. With backing vocals provided by Mica herself alongside Angeli Sweeney and Ellie Hulme and Rhodes by Manchester keyboardist Ben Lee Smith, a team of New York’s finest were recruited on behalf of Mica by Vince Chiarato (Bass) owner and engineer at Hive Mind - an analog recording Studio in New York best known for capturing the signature soulful sonics of artists like Black Pumas and Corinne Bailey Rae, including guitarist Jesse Barnes (Aloe Blacc), Organist Colin Brown (Harlem Gospel Travelers) and drummer Jim Bertini (Ikebe Shakedown).
Alongside thirteen other songs from the forthcoming debut, ‘Girl’ was mixed by LA-based, multi-platinum producer Brian Malouf (Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder) and mastered by Geoff Pesche (Ed Sheeran, Adele) at Abbey Road Studios, credited by him as “his favourite Abbey Road project of 2021”, continuing ‘watch out for this one. I said the same about Adele when I did Chasing Pavements' here”.
Geoff Pesche isn't exaggerating in his comparison here, this song is a sensational blend of modern soul with the warmth of a Motown vibe.
At the time of writing ‘Girl’, Mica was in recovery from a spinal injury that had very nearly left her permanently paralysed from the waist down. “Some of these stories were inspired by my backing singers” she says, often shared around her kitchen table “over a glass of wine (or three) after rehearsals and studio sessions…At the time, I really needed something to lift me up and it was support from other women that brought about the initial idea. I wanted to write something honest and truthful, based on real stories that we can all relate to”.
“Other women’s stories can be like looking at a reflection of your own life” says Mica “there's something really special about the connections we make when we share what we’re going through and encourage and empower each other.”
Being an independent artist, one that runs her own label and publishing company ‘Golden Hour Music’ as well as writing, arranging and producing her songs, designing artwork and producing, creatively directing and editing her own music videos, Mica knows all too well the challenges of working as a woman in the music industry.
“The factors contributing to gender imbalance within the industry are complex and multi-layered but I feel the best way I can promote positive change is by doing my own thing, demonstrating to others that it can be done and ensuring that wherever possible, I’m conscious and aware of promoting inclusiveness with the decisions I’m making about who I work with”.
Oftentimes Mica says she finds herself at the helm of predominantly male teams and thinks this can only be positive. “I think there is a place for both female leadership as well as creating more balanced teams in terms of gender - both are useful approaches to championing and promoting female creativity and capability in different ways.”
Keen to address these gender imbalances with the music video for ‘Girl’, Mica put together an incredible team of fifteen people (twelve women and three men) with an all-female senior crew, to work on a stunning performance video stylised with her signature vintage/industrial aesthetic.
Mica took on the role of Creative Director, Executive Producer and Editor working alongside up and coming filmmakers Charlene Jones (Video Director) [winner of Best UK Short Film for 'Henceforth' at BFI Future Film Festival 2019], Jamaican-British award-winning TV and filmmaker, Lissi Simpson (First Assistant Director) [creator of Oscar-qualifying short film ‘Mexed’ about microaggressions relating to afro-hair,] and youth worker and racial activist Angeli Sweeney (Mica’s backing singer who is subtly referenced in the song’s second verse by her nickname ‘Angel’) - a who’s who in female creative talent and all of whom use their voices to raise awareness of gender, race and class disparities in different ways.
“I have a huge amount of respect for these women and what they've each achieved with their work.” says Mica, continuing “As a team, we really wanted this video to be about celebrating the song and celebrating real women so the cast in the dance scene are friends of mine, women from my life who inspire me”.
‘Girl’ is lifted from Mica’s self-written, arranged and produced debut album ‘Heaven Knows’ out June 2022, which explores themes of human nature, spirituality, love, oppression, inequality and empowerment. She's said to be drawing inspiration from a plethora of vintage soundscapes: soul; blues; gospel and jazz.
If 'Girl' is a taste of what her debut album is going to sound like, then I for one can't wait to hear it.
Summing this track up in one word - inspiriting!
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