Amy Millan: Interview

Thanks to Aisling for helping me out with this.

On August 22nd I went to the Ottawa Folk Festival and got a chance to meet Amy Millan.
NOTE: If you were wanting to do a interview, you should contact their management first.
Here is the interview.

Ming: So how excited are you to be playing like new material from the new album?
Amy: It’s pretty great. I’m very excited. I love my band; I’m a really lucky girl. That camera that you have, it looks like it’s the kind of thing that you’d shoot like beetles from the… like rainforest or something.

Ming: Yeah, like really cool stuff…
Amy: Yeah, it’s incredible. You’d get every follicule [French word for follicle].

Ming: Yeah, you can do, like, I did up close of like, flowers one time I was at the Tulip festival.
Amy: Cool.

Ming: Well I saw the album cover; it looks really exotic. I mean like, it looks like you went to Africa and looked at the elephants and stuff. Did you go to Africa?
Amy: I didn’t go to Africa but I did have somebody in New Zealand shoot the cover and shoot all the stuff. I can show it you, actually… Hold on a second – stay here. [She walks to a nearby tent and returns with the new album]

Amy: This is the actual artwork, here…
Aisling: Do you mind if I like take it since my photos won’t be developed for like three weeks.
Amy: Whatever! It’s fine. It’s not like – you can’t you know, burn a photograph.

Ming: Yeah, I heard that the cover you did for Death Cab For Cutie is really nice.

Amy: Doesn’t it look so beautiful? Look at how it reflects the light! (She demonstrates the holographic qualities of the tracks listed on the inside cover)
Aisling: That’s really really nice.
Amy: And then this is the booklet. (She pulls out the album booklet)

Aisling: How does it like, compare to Honey from the Tombs? Like, is it as many sort of drinking, sad songs?
Amy: Actually, you know what? There’s not one mention of alcohol on this one. Oh, actually, there is. One. The very last song which is “Bound” which I actually was supposed to record on Honey from the Tombs, but I didn’t like the recording of it so I left it off. Beautiful! Amazing.

Ming: So what’s your favourite song on the album?
Amy: I don’t – I’ve never been a favourites girl. You know, if somebody said “what’s your favourite colour”, then I would say rainbow.

Ming: That’s cool. I like that.
Amy: I don’t like favourites. I don’t… I can’t be that judgemental. I’m sure… I’ll leave the judging up to the…
Ming: The fans.

Aisling: Well do you have one maybe that you just really like singing like, that even when you’re not performing…
Amy: I do. “Towers” I think is probably my favourite, and the very last one I wrote for the record. And I wrote it the day that we recorded it.
Aisling: Wow.
Amy: So I would say that one.

Ming: So I have a question, my friend asked me to ask you this: What’s your favourite whiskey, and why?
Amy: Again with the favourites!
Ming: Oh, sorry!
Amy: I actually don’t drink the brown anymore. I traded the brown for the red. Uh… I really very rarely drink whiskey; I find it hurts my liver. So I turned to Beaujolais. I turned to wine.

Amy: And less alcohol, and better for you.
Aisling: Oh yeah, good for your heart.
Amy: Good for you heart in many ways, ‘cause you can always, you know, romance – it always helps when you have some wine. I would drink whiskey when I was lonely. And now that I’m not lonely anymore I drink wine.

Aisling: Well you were in Spain, right?
Amy: I was.
Aisling: Did you ever do the sangria there?
Amy: Um… not too much. I actually had the best mojito there I’ve ever had in my life.
Aisling: Okay, definitely, yeah.
Ming: Was it really laid back, too?
Amy: Yes. It took about 45 minutes to get a piece of bread once.
Ming: Wow.
Amy: Yes – very laid back.
Ming: Because I had a friend who went to Spain I think or Italy and they said that trains – the train was so like, way laid back. Like, you think you’re late, but they’re just like, lazy.
Amy: Yeah, one time actually, I played with Broken in Spain and we were supposed to go on at midnight, which is bad enough, but midnight in Spain was actually 3 o’clock in the morning.
Ming: That’s crazy!
Aisling: Well I mean the bars don’t close until 5 a.m. apparently.
Amy: Yeah, I – you know, I’m not a night person, I’m not a night owl. I love my sleep. I have ever since I was a baby. So, I’m not really into that way of living. But maybe I should get into naps! I just don’t nap, so I don’t know how to do.

Ming: Do you have any nicknames, like the band members of Stars and BSS or anything? Nothing too dirty, like anything funny.
Amy: Well… not really. Kevin is a good person who can nickname people, and he himself is not very nicknameable. But Kevin calls me – it’s sort of personal. You know?
Ming: Oh yeah, you don’t have to say it.
Amy: It’s just such a personal thing, it’s like pet names for each other.
Ming: You don’t have to say the name, I was curious if you ever give each other nicknames like, “Hey T!” or “Hey, K-drew”.
Amy: There are some names that get passed around.

Aisling: Well, have you got any funny stories from touring with ah… I’m assuming when you tour doing your own solo stuff, it’s a bit different than touring with Stars or Broken Social Scene, right? Like, more like the Folk Festival and…
Amy: Well, Broken has played this festival many times. There’s so many stories. And one day I’ll write a book.
Ming: You could make the part two of “This Book Is Broken”.

Aisling: Do you know if there are going to be any other big you know tracks that all sort of the indie crowd… like you know how you did This Charming Man and Death Cab For Cutie also did This Charming man, and it sort of passed around a few bands?
Do you know any other songs you guys are kind of thinking of doing?
Amy: Umm… well we’re concentrating on writing new songs at this moment. I’m trying to learn as many Sadies songs as I can before tomorrow so I that can sing with them during the workshop that we’re doing together because I’m a massive fan of the Sadies. And I’m trying to also learn “I wish I was the moon” tonight by Neko Case so I can play with them as well. So that’s what I’m concentrating on.

Ming: Have you thought of doing acting? Or not?
Amy: Acting? Um I have done some acting, I used to act as a kid, and I would love to. Wouldn’t it be great to get like a television series? You know, I’d want to be on something like CSI. I’d want it to be crime related. And have guns. And crime.
Ming: I could see you could make an appearance on the show “Being Erica”. I don’t know why, I just…
Amy: Oh really? I’ve never seen it. But I’m a big fan of Canadian television.
Aisling: Oh, you know what? You should talk to maybe like the True Blood people about your music being on their soundtrack or something.
Amy: I agree with you completely! I actually wrote… because I thought “Bitches in Tokyo” would be an amazing song to be on True Blood. “I’m in your blood, you’re still in my blood”, all the lyrics?
Aisling: Well I’ve got the soundtrack for the first season and it’s a lot more country kind of stuff. Like, the first song they have is their intro, and it’s extremely extremely southern country. And the rest of it, the whole way through: Folk/country. So I think actually some of your solo stuff would be better for it.
Amy: Well excellent. If you could try and sell that to them, I’d be really into it. If you wanna get on board. Just write emails! You know, insistent that you’ll stop watching unless they put one of my songs on.
Aisling: Okay, definitely!

Ming: Oh I forgot what I was about to ask. Oh, I was gonna say like, you like being a role model to some of the girls who like listen to your music I guess. I mean, you like being a role model for like, the kids I guess.
Amy: Um I don’t know… it happens I think. I think I like that people enjoy the music, and if that’s something that they decide they want to be influenced by in their lives, then that’s a compliment. I don’t set out to influence.
Ming: Okay
Amy: I set out to make the best kind of music I can, to hopefully change hearts and minds. But people should be their own – themselves. I think that’s the most – it’s a cliché, I know, but you don’t ever want to be anybody else.

Ming: Oh I saw the band last night too, they were in Ottawa. Still Life Still. They’re amazing.
Amy: Yeah they’re great and fantastic!.
Ming: And I heard the new Most Serene Republic album.
Amy: I love those guys so much. I have so much respect and admiration and love for them.
Ming: Did you hear the new album?
Amy: I have and I love it.
Ming: My favourite’s Patternicity.
Amy: I have to sit with it for a whole day and put it on repeat. But they’re an incredible talent.

Ming: Ok, I guess this is it. We don’t want to take up your time.
Amy: Thank you!
(end of interview)


  1. prianka42

    Great interview! I always see you at shows (recognize you from the WGTS pictures). Good to know Amy is coming back in November, I am very excited to hear the new album.

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