Unlike the many home-counties transplants currently spilling mugs of gin over pavements across the capital, 17-year-old Millie Turner was born and bred in Hackney, east London. A place where street art seemingly covers every surface and each T-junction gives way to an assortment of scents and sounds, the borough provided the young artist with an array of creative stimuli. It’s an ideal location for someone like Turner, who is currently studying to be an artist.
Inner-city environments like these can often breed creativity, which is perhaps one reason why Turner spends her free time painting and getting ink under her fingernails, as well as studying at college. However she’s also a musician, which she initially fell into by accident. Alongside studying and doing all the normal shit young adults do, Turner spent some of her early years in a community church. There she started to dabble in music, improvising songs and playing Beatles covers. She learned to play the piano, bashed around on steel drums and started to learn about jazz.
Her first release “Underwater” was written the night after Donald Trump’s election victory. Though it’s tied in one way or another to the hopelessness that came in the days after the nightmare started to set in, the song is also one of freedom. Its watery synths combine with a pumping production track – kind of like something you’d imagine choosing to listen to on a first-ever MDMA trip – which lends the track a unique sound of youthful and freeing euphoria. “There’s a sense of security [being by the sea] and it’s also a metaphor for the unknown because it’s just so big. Also Trump can’t defeat the sea!” Turner says when we speak over the phone, of the track’s relation to water.
“We are young, we are afraid, but we are free”, she sings throughout the track, demonstrating a belief that in the face adversity there’s still ample room for escape. The song was initially released on Bandcamp, before slowly rising through the music blogs and solidifying Turner’s new vocation as a musician. As for some more explanation to why the song is about the sea? “It’s a metaphor for the unknown because it’s just so big,” she explains. “Apparently we’ve only discovered 80 percent of what’s under the water. It’s massive.” “Eyes On You” then followed, a track about vulnerability that Turner wrote, weirdly, after going on a trip to the museum with her grandparents. However it’s her latest track, “The Shadow”, which we’re premiering below as part of our Hitlist series.
Deviating slightly from Turner’s previous releases, the song maintains an almost club-ready backbone but combines it with spoken word and an earworm-like hook. The idea behind track was first conceived when Turner was home one evening, playing with some ink. She’d just bought some new paper and art materials and wanted to experiment. The result was an image of a girl who was being held by her shadow – a metaphor of sorts for the narrative of the song itself.
“The song is about the idea of going on a weird abstract journey into inner creativity. It was about getting lost and going on a journey with the shadow – having an acceptance of yourself and the creative side you don’t want to show other people,” Turner tells me. The video was then shot across Hackney and Homerton, the town in which Turner grew up. “My whole life has been lived in those streets, those roads, that motorway,” she says. “I thought it would be cool to use that environment. I wanted to capture loads of city lights. I wanted to make the idea of going on this journey very personal.”
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