Smriti Lakra, Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Today, we are introducing you to this rising Korean-New Zealand origin artist, “Milky Day” under Unbound Entertainment who you should watch out for if R&B and LoFi genres are your vibe. We recently had an opportunity to conduct an interview with him, excerpts of which are here for you to know more about him and his musical journey. Read ahead:
With a background in classical piano and a degree in Math, can you share with us the story of how you discovered your passion for music and what led you to pursue it?
I grew up playing classical piano since I was around 8 years old, so I was exposed to music at an early age. During middle and high school, I took part in various music-related groups and clubs such as choir, orchestra, jazz band, and barbershop. I dabbled in music production a little bit in middle school, but it wasn’t until college that I started producing and writing songs more seriously. I also studied music and mathematics in college – math since it opens a lot of doors and could increase my chances of getting hired, and music because it’s something I enjoyed and wanted to study in more depth.
The reason I started producing music is that although I enjoyed classical piano, it felt like my creativity was somewhat constrained by the notes on the sheet music, so I wanted to try creating and performing more original music. I fell in love with the producing and songwriting process. As my music gradually gained more attention over the years, I began entertaining the idea of pursuing music seriously as a career. It wasn’t until last year that I quit my day job to focus on music more, and I haven’t regretted a moment since!
Your stage name Milky Day is quite unique and has caught the attention of many fans. Please share with us the story behind how you came up with this name?
A lot of people ask me about the meaning behind Milky Day, and the truth is, I just liked how it sounded. It was actually a name that some college friends and I came up with a couple of years ago when we used to make music together. We liked “Milky Day” because it gave off chill vibes and had a ring to it. Eventually, we stopped making music together, but with my friend’s permission, I kept the name and continued to release music as Milky Day!
Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and how have they impacted your sound?
My musical influences keep changing depending on what kind of music I’m into or how I’m feeling. I really like the R&B melodies of artists like Alina Baraz, Frank Ocean, DPR Live, 6lack, and Bryson Tiller. I also really like the style of music producers like Lophiile, Medasin, and Galimatias. If I’m honest though, it’s hard to pinpoint who exactly my biggest musical influences are as I draw inspiration from all kinds of artists, songs, and styles. I also believe that every single song I’ve heard in the past still influences my music to this day, including songs or artists that I used to love but no longer listen to. I’m also heavily influenced by my friends who also do music – there was a period of massive growth and discovery a few years ago when I worked a lot with an artist and close friend of mine called Sway Bleu, so he’s also been a big inspiration.
You have released several popular tracks, including “You’ll Be Alright” and “Take it Slow,” which have gained significant traction on streaming platforms, with over 47 million combined plays on Spotify alone. How do you feel about its success and how was your experience working on this?
I was pleasantly surprised by how well those songs performed! It’s still a bit of a mystery to me why some songs do significantly better than others because sometimes I expect a song to do really well but it doesn’t, or vice versa. I guess it’s pretty hard to predict how others will react to my music.
“You’ll Be Alright” was my second significant collaboration with artists Frad and Hayne, and it was actually partially inspired by our previous track together, “Fool”, which was also quite popular. I wrote to “You’ll Be Alright” during Covid, when I was stuck at home because of quarantine and things were looking hopeless. I wanted to write a song of comfort and reassurance, and it seems to have worked as my fans responded very positively to its release!
“Take it Slow” is a personal favorite of mine, and one of my most successful solo singles. I had produced a demo of the track one day and was listening to it over and over again. While in the shower, the main melodic motif popped into my head and I found it really catchy. I came out of the shower and immediately recorded it as the chorus/hook, then built the verses around it. I was really happy with the final result – it came out as the sensual summer bop that I had envisioned and I still enjoy listening to the song to this day.
Can you walk us through your songwriting process? Where do you draw inspiration from?
I always start off by producing the track – I usually start with chords, then layer drums, the bassline, and other ear candy. Then, I listen to the track and try to interpret how it makes me feel or what kinds of memories it reminds me of. Next, I start brainstorming melody ideas by humming or singing random words until I come up with a cool or catchy idea. Finally, I add lyrics to the melodies that relate to the overall concept or vibe of the song, often changing the melodies slightly to fit the number of syllables in the lyrics.
I draw a lot of inspiration from other artists and songs. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like I’m in the right mindset to start making music, I listen to a playlist of some of my favorite songs or watch youtube videos of other artists producing or writing songs for inspiration.
In 2022, you worked with Jimmy Brown, a popular indie R&B artist on a couple of tracks which were “Dark Warm”, “Am I Different” and “A Favor.” How did you get acquainted with them?
I discovered Jimmy on Soundcloud a couple of years ago, maybe in 2019? His song “Lay You Down” appeared on my Soundcloud feed and I really enjoyed the song, so I sent him a message saying that I liked his sound and that I would love to collaborate with him sometime. We exchanged demos back and forth and ended up working on those couple of tracks together. I haven’t worked with him in a while since our sounds evolved and we went down slightly different paths, but I still have a lot of respect for his musical talent and strong work ethic.
You have worked with several other growing artists including Jimmy Brown, frad, and Hayne. Do you have any memorable experiences that you would like to share regarding working with them?
I remember meeting up with Frad and Hayne at a random cafe in Seoul a couple of years ago and working on some songs together. I think that was the first time I met Hayne in person and maybe the second time I met Frad. It was cool because even though we hadn’t met each other much and had mostly worked remotely on our collaborations, we could jam together and make music when we met up. It’s also pretty amazing how technology has advanced to a point where you only really need your laptop to produce music anywhere you want!
Now that you have developed a musicality and established yourself in the R&B space globally. Are there any artists you want to collaborate with in future?
There are lots of artists I would love to work with – they’re pretty much the same artists I mentioned earlier as sources of inspiration. A couple of R&B artists that come to mind are Alina Baraz, Frank Ocean, Galimatias, Jhene Aiko, and 6LACK. It would also be cool to work with DPR Live or DPR Ian, as I have huge respect for their artistic vision and drive. I would also love to work with producers like Medasin and Lophiile, as they’ve influenced my production a lot recently.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your music career so far, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I faced was when covid happened and I lost a lot of my motivation to make music. Because of quarantine, I didn’t travel much or meet many new people, so I felt really uninspired. The pandemic also hit when I first started working full-time (in a role unrelated to music), so I was spending a lot of time stuck in my room working. I became comfortable with that lifestyle and gradually lost the will to work on music after work or on weekends. As a result, I stopped releasing music for almost a year, even though I really wanted to since I didn’t want to keep my fans waiting.
Last year, I got laid off from my job, so I was back on the job hunt. While I was looking for new jobs and attending interviews, I had a moment of realization – that working a 9-5 job wasn’t what I was passionate about, and that I wanted to try pursuing a career in music before it was too late. And so, I moved to Sydney, Australia for a fresh start and focused all my attention on music. Looking back, I know I made the right decision – I’ve regained a lot of my inspiration since, and I have a lot of music lined up for release in the near future.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are just starting out?
Right now is the best time to start! Technology has made music more accessible than ever before – all you really need is a laptop and a digital audio workstation (i.e. music making software) to get started. And don’t be afraid to make whatever style of song you want and to share them online – there is no wrong or right in music, and it takes time to discover your style. When I first started producing music, I was making all kinds of weird songs and releasing them on Soundcloud. One of my really early songs ended up blowing up on Soundcloud (and I had no idea that it would during the time of release), and helped guide the evolution of my musical style. Lastly, I would recommend actively working with other artists you admire – I learned so much from working with other musicians and observing their creative processes.
If you haven’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
If I didn’t become a musician, I would probably have been working some kind of corporate day job. I also quite enjoy teaching/tutoring, so that’s a career path that I would have considered if the day job didn’t work out. But I’ve always been interested in the creative arts, so if music wasn’t my forte, I would probably have tried exploring some other creative skill too – perhaps something like motion graphics or fine art. In fact, I used to really love drawing when I was younger, and becoming a fine artist was my childhood dream!
Finally, what are your long-term goals for your music career, and how do you plan to achieve them?
My long-term goal is to keep releasing good music that moves listeners emotionally or provides them with a sense of comfort. I also want to perform more, work on more music video projects, and collaborate with creatives from all kinds of industries. I don’t have a specific plan on how I’ll achieve these goals, but I think as long as I keep reaching for my dreams and keeping my head in the game, these things will come naturally. I also recently joined Unbound Entertainment Group as management, so they’ll be there to support me and my goals and help accelerate my music career.
Hallyu Wave/Korean Wave is growing rapidly in India and there are many fans who love listening to your songs. Do you have something you want to share with your Indian fans?
I’d like to give a huge thank you to all of my fans who have been supporting me and my musical journey throughout these years! I wouldn’t be here without you all, and despite all the ups and downs, I promise to continue releasing more amazing music for you to enjoy. As a small teaser – I have a collaborative single coming out in a month or two, so keep your eyes peeled!
Once again, on behalf of our entire team at Hallyuism, we would like to thank “Milky Day” for taking out time for this interview! Much love from India and we wish him the very best in all his future endeaveours.