A Chat With: MILKK
Meet MILKK: the 'emo boy-band' made up of Pat Kiloran, Jack Vondrachek and John Ogelby who are creating a new wave of love songs for you. For the rerelease of their single Less Than 3, we spoke with Pat about their music, the future and how they became MILKK.
How did the band come together? We always joke that the band started as a joke. It's mostly true. I (Pat) was struggling to accomplish anything with my solo career, Jack had just been kicked out of his band he had been in for 5 years for no real reason, and John was busy playing a lot of gigs for other artists but always wanting to do his own thing. So, we pretty much started the band as an outlet to put out fun, feel-good, feel-sad, whatever, music. Very little planning or thought went into it. It was just a spur of the moment thing. Very spontaneous. Little did we know that people would really care and care a lot.
What artists made you want to make music? We bounce all over. We all listen to the entire spectrum of music. I honestly think that rap and r'n'b has been a huge inspiration to us, even though we don't really sound like it at all. Of course, we are fans of some of the pop and alternative greats, past and present. Simplicity and personality really speak to us. Really, anyone who is doing something they are passionate about inspires us greatly. And that can be in music or in visual art or film or fashion or literature or whatever.
What other music/artists inspire your music? We've had people compare us to so many different bands or artists that I honestly like the think we don't really draw our inspiration from any one band or artist. Like I said, we are driven by seeing people do something they like and something that has personality. I personally always go back to Kanye West. He does what he wants, how he wants, doesn't care what people think. And he's still one of the biggest trend-setters in pop music today, regardless of what he goes after, succeeding or failing. I aspire to that.
Why did you decide to name the song ‘Less Than 3’? How did you come up with the concept for the song?
Again, it sort of originally came about as a passing thought. I was working on a track earlier this year and got to the point where I needed to write the lyrics and record the vocals. I just randomly thought of the old "<3" symbol I used to always write to girls in junior high and high school. I thought "'Less Than 3.' Yeah, that'll work." So, I just wrote a song based around my past experiences as a teenager in love. The song is pieced together memories from different relationships, even ones that panned out terribly in the end.
You released 2 singles this year, Pacific Kiss and IDWK, tell us a bit about those songs "Pacific Kiss" was our start. I don't know how it happened, but before we even put it out, people were so excited about it. They had no clue if we would suck or be okay or whatever. But they cared. And when it came out in May, that led to it picking up a little steam. Nothing crazy, but it is almost at 100k streams on Spotify currently. It's totally a nostalgia-bomb: west coast atmosphere pieced together with 80's synths and heart break. It honestly sounds like a "Miami Vice" theme song or something. "IDWK" was technically our 3rd single. We released "Less Than 3" the first time back in June. But after we signed to our label, everyone agreed that we should take it down for awhile and re-release it bigger and better. So, now "IDWK" functions as our 2nd single. It was definitely a fan release. We knew it wasn't a big banger or a radio-friendly song. But we knew we needed to put out something new for our fans who had been waiting and waiting while we were in the legal process of signing. So, "IDWK" is 100% for the fans. It's a slow-jam. It's sad. It's emo. It's a good track.
How does your writing process work? How do you come up with the lyrics? It depends, to be honest. Usually I sit down and get the core idea of a song out by building some sort of track and writing some lyrics quick over top. Then I send the idea to the guys and we pick it apart and make it better or scrap it. We refuse to release or even record a mediocre song. If the song makes it all the way to Jack mixing it, then we know it's good. Anyway, as far as lyrics, I usually first assess what kind of feeling the track I'm working on evokes. Is it upbeat? Is it sad? Is it aggressive? That influences what kind of lyrics I will write over top. Sometimes I flip that on its head and write really depressing lyrics over an upbeat, fun song. Like I said before, I'm just learning to do whatever I think is cool and chase it. We all are.
Your overall look is very clean, precise and colourful, what inspired that aesthetic? What is the vision you’re trying to create?
It's a combination of things. First and foremost, John has massive influence when it comes to how our look came together. We all knew we wanted a clean, somewhat sardonic and ironic, in-your-face vibe. I always said that we were "Wes Anderson meets a vintage shop." But John, along with our photographer, Ryan, and our stylist, Annalise, really honed in on how we could make that vibe a reality. We took a lot of inspiration from the fashion world and from our own senses of humour. It took us a little bit to get to what we wanted to be. But now that we've got the pieces together, we feel like we are finally breathing our own air and representing ourselves authentically.
What are some of those “big plans” you can tell us about?
We've always tried to play our cards close to our chest and be smart about how we are going to go about this whole thing. After all, it's our entire career potentially in the balance. So, some of the "big plans" we mention are more of an idealistic concept of the fact that we truly are planning and are putting in the work to become the biggest band we possibly can be. On the other hand, there genuinely are some very exciting things going on that we are gearing up for and crossing our fingers for that we hope come to pass next year. So much is up in the air! But we really believe in our team, and we really believe in our fans. So, we really believe that these hopes (albums, tours, etc.) will become realities very soon.
You categorize yourselves as ‘emo boy-band’ why?
I honestly thought of that phrase the day before we launched our fresh aesthetic. It just felt right. A little tongue-in-cheek, a little weird, but mostly true. I feel like most real boy-bands have this larger-than-life attitude, super outgoing, all very clean-cut and overly good-looking, and singing really upbeat, fun songs. We are all sorta weird and quiet and self-deprecating. We write really catchy songs (I hope), but half the time, they are about my own mental anguish or some break up. Or if they are about true love, it ends up showing the cracks in the seams and getting more real-life about it. So, I figured that we had all the makings of the "anti-boyband.'
What is something you want to accomplish as MILKK?
I'll keep it simple, honest, and brash: we want to be the biggest band we can be and share that joy with our friends and fans. Pure and simple.