When Amelia Milo stepped out on a frisky December night in Manhattan, she knew she was in for a big night. She was about to perform at a private concert next to Andrea Bocelli, her first performance back on stage after almost two years of COVID lockdowns. Her burgundy gown was fit for the occasion.
“I literally went from quarantine pajamas and slippers straight to singing in a gown and heels with the iconic Andrea Bocelli!” she quipped. “Needless to say, it was a bit overwhelming, but also extremely exciting to be performing again,” she revealed.
Backstage, in the rehearsal room, as the two “quickly ran through a duet,” Amelia asked Bocelli if he had any singing advice for her ahead of the performance. Her Italian counterpart responded by saying that he did not have any “because it all sounded good!” Amelia was pleased to hear that but felt that just singing alongside Bocceli was a masterclass in itself that she alone was privy to this night. Sharing the stage with Bocelli inspired her “to mean what I am singing,” and to follow her instincts. “Everything Andrea sings is so passionate. Just being next to him as a singer inspires me to try to do the same with my own voice.”
And that’s how it all began.
If you have not already heard, Amelia Milo is an up-and-coming independent artist to watch. Immersed in singing and writing her music since she was a little girl, Amelia pursued her passion by seeking out performance opportunities in local community musicals as a kid. Through the roles in musicals, she discovered her passion for acting, as well.
“Everything grew from the moment I played a Winkie and Tree in the Wizard of Oz at 8 years old at my local JCC on Long Island,” she declared. For her first professional job in the business, she was cast in the ensemble for Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables,” where she sang on the soundtrack for the film. “Being on that set was such an exhilarating experience, and I remember thinking that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life if I could.”
Then, when the time for her to attend college arrived, she took time off from working professionally to study at Brown University. There, she studied under Tom Jones and Kym Moore, co-founder of the AntiGravity Theater Project.
“I took some time– a semester– off from my studies to film a teen movie musical called ‘Drama Drama.’ After graduating from Brown in 2019, I am back to the audition grind, except now in the midst of a pandemic. I am just hoping that I can find my way as a creative in these difficult times and continue to do what I love!”
Instead of taking a mainstream road to success through a music label, Amelia decided to pick an independent route because she wanted to start sharing her music. “I didn’t want to wait for the approval of a label to release music, so I decided to take matters into my own hands,” she said authoritatively.
So far, her music journey has been “an amazing learning experience” where, as an independent artist, she is “growing as I go.” Being able to figure out who she is as an artist and discover her unique sound without any commercial pressure from a label contract is what Amelia’s exploration of songwriting and performing has been about so far.
“If I ever do go with a label one day, I will have a better idea of who I am and what I want from that type of collaboration since I’ve taken the time to independently figure that out. Just diving into dropping music has taught me a lot about what I can do better for my next release and how to advocate for myself more. Being independent has helped me build confidence not only as an artist, but also as a businesswoman,” she said.
Taking on the industry solo comes with ups and downs, though. “Being an independent artist is a lot like being a small business,” said Amelia. “It’s hard to break out and grow when there are so many industry-backed artists. It’s a lot like being a new small coffee shop that is next door to a huge Starbucks. How can you get people to see the value in your coffee, too? I believe slowly over time with a lot of courage and persistence, you can start to grow a small niche following that likes your music… the same way people find that one special oat milk mocha from a small indie coffee shop in their area,” she said. “It is very daunting to do anything from scratch, but it is also very exciting to find what makes you unique and try to bring that out. Being independent takes a lot of courage and creativity that goes far beyond just making music; You have to get creative with how you are going to operate your business as well, and I’m still learning how to do that!”
Ahead of Christmas, Amelia Milo has released “The First Time I Saw Snow,” a mellow winter tune she wrote herself. —What’s the story behind it? I wanted to know.
“This lyric idea came to me one night while I was a student at Brown University,” she began. “I was studying really hard for finals in December before Christmas break on a snowy night in ‘the Rock’ library. As I was leaving at one in the morning, this guy started screaming behind me. I was terrified turning around, but then he smiled and said, “Oh sorry, don’t worry… This is just ‘The first time I saw snow! I’m from California and freaking out! It’s so pretty! Omg!’” Amelia recalled. “I started laughing and replied, ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’”
Amelia thought that this experience was “so cute for someone to be so excited to see snow for the first time.” As someone who grew up in Long Island New York, snow was not unusual. “It was very normal for me, and I guess I always took it for granted,” she shared her thinking. The conversation outside of the library at Brown made her think about “how seeing snow for the first time is a lot like meeting someone new for the first time.” According to Amelia, “this feeling of happiness and finding something new that beholds possibility.” When she got back to her dorm that night, she penned down “when I saw you it was like the first time I saw snow” in her notebook hoping to turn it into a song. “Originally, I was going to use the lyric in a romantic ballad I was writing, but it somehow also worked in an upbeat Christmas song. The final version is finally released,” she said cheerfully.
Speaking about her creative process, Amelia said that she does not follow any specific formula. “The feeling takes over, and then the words pour out,” she said, ”Some songs I have written in just 10 minutes, while others take me months to capture. It always starts with an idea, whether it be a lyric I am resonating with or a chord progression that is moving me. The process is very intuitive, which is why I can’t fully put my finger on it. When it feels right, you just know!”
Amelia Milo has been influenced by different musical genres. “I believe that music is fluid and exists across a spectrum. What matters the most is the feeling that it is conveying. For me, the emotion can be felt while listening to an operatic aria, but it can also be expressed by grooving to an amazing pop dance beat. That is why I love genre-bending music,” she said. “I’ve been inspired by a great variety of artists ranging from opera singers, musical theater performers, rockers, beat makers and pop stars in my lifetime. I get particularly excited when music blends genres which is why I have always admired Andrea Bocelli , because he is an opera singer that can cross over into pop culture seamlessly. It was such an honor to sing with him!” Some of her favorite artists growing up were also Billy Joel, Tracy Chapman and Coldplay. “Their lyricism and honesty moved me to the core. As an artist, my dream would be to make music that others can relate to and feel moved by in this way.” One day, she would love to work with Mark Ronson. “I think he is a super talented producer, and I would love to see how he records music.”
The key to happiness, Amelia believes, is in “gratitude, focusing on what you can control while listening to some good music… and also pasta.” On fame, she is rarely starstruck. “I don’t necessarily get “starstruck” because I believe that we are all souls on this planet having a unique experience. But I do truly admire talent,” she revealed. “I don’t necessarily get “starstruck” because I believe that we are all souls on this planet having a unique experience. But I do truly admire talent. Someone doesn’t necessarily have to be famous for me to be awestruck by them. If I am ever to be “struck” by anyone, it is by people who have a talent and passion for what they do, regardless of the size of their following.”
As Amelia Milo reflects over the holidays and sets her intention for the next year, she is certain that, career-wise, she is “going to keep going and persevere” despite the obstacles the creative industry has been facing due to Covid pandemic.
“My goal is to not lose sight,” she declared. “ I’d love to expand more as a musician and build more confidence in what it is that I am doing.”
To Amelia Milo, music is her raison d’etre. “Music is the soundtrack to life. It has shaped every single moment. It’s wild how I can listen to a song, and it immediately brings me to a very specific memory and place. Music can unlock each sense and I find that so compelling,” she said.
”As a consumer of music, I am so thankful to have my favorite songs to inspire me through life. As a writer of music, I am grateful to be able to document and process my emotions through song, in hopes that others can connect,” she concluded, looking into the bright future.