LOS ANGELES – Upon auditioning for American Idol in 2013, Angie Miller commenced a journey that launched her career and ultimately transplanted the Beverly native to the west coast. With a lot of hard work and a touch of humility, the singer-songwriter recorded and released her debut album Weathered to be featured during a pair of hometown shows in May.
Angie’s passion for music is not a new story, rather it is one deeply rooted in her family and their monumental influence on her life, career, and the creative process.
Her mother encouraged her to sing from the time she was a little girl, helping her to learn lyrics, connect with them, and even write her own. Her father taught her the basics of piano before receiving more formal instruction, and Angie also credits her brother for pushing her to be better from the start.
“I love my family so much,” Angie explains adoringly. “My whole family pushed me musically to be passionate and to be even better and to challenge myself and they still do to this day. They all are just so encouraging.”
The road to the release of her debut has taken a toll on the singer as evident in some of the album’s lyrics. Her third place finish on American Idol included high profile spots in the season-twelve finale, and landed her on both their summer tour and as an opening act for Michael W. Smith.
Angie would opt out of recording a Christian album, and faced a future in the industry without offers. Ultimately, the 21-year-old decided to take a road less traveled. Angie wanted not only a seat at the table when it came to her own music. She wanted the table.
“I have approached post-Idol different than most contestants,” Angie explains. “I think it’s because I realized American Idol is a TV show. Once the show is over, all the hype dies down. You’re no longer important. People forget really easily. It made me realize that I’m no more special than anyone else, and I need to work ten times harder than most people to continue doing this, and making money off of music is hard.”
Her realization was both humbling and eye opening, leading the singer to work tenaciously at penning music her Dreamers would enjoy. She would eventually put the fate of the album in their hands, opting to release it independently following a hugely successful Pledge Music crowdfunding campaign.
The creative process and resulting music may have surprised some, but certainly not Angie.
“Weathered is a lot different than what people were expecting, and I like that,” Angie admits. “I didn’t grow up listening to pop music at all. I grew up listening to rock, punk, and hardcore. So going on American Idol and having to do covers of all these old songs or covers of pop songs. Of course it wasn’t really me.”
Angie credits her move to the west coast for also providing inspiration, and offering a push at learning to be autonomous. She found herself surrounded by gifted musicians who were at first intimidating, but eventually morphed into motivation.
“There are all these incredible musicians around you all the time. You’re constantly with people who are so good, and it really pushes you to be on you’re A-game.”
The EP offered a chance for Angie to break out beyond her own limits as a songwriter. The album was co-written with producers Adam Watts, Gannin Arnold, and Andy Dodd of the Red Decibel production team as well as David William and Kevin William. The album was also produced by Broken City.
“I think it’s really something special to get a few creative minds together because everyone can bring different things. There are things on the EP that I never would’ve been able to think of myself, but the fact is there were incredible writers and musicians around me.”
The six-track EP unquestionably features a more rock sound as evident on “Lost in Sound”, “Miles”, and the title track. Yet a counterbalance is offered by the ballad “Simple” and the more anthemic tracks “Universe Electric” and “This is the Life”. Angie doesn’t want to box herself into a genre, and believes the EP truly represents a sample of her tastes.
“Now that I’m writing again and for the future, I’m not thinking or I’m not saying I need to write like this. I need to write this song because it’s my style. I just want to write,” Angie explains, “And whatever direction it goes… it will go.”
For a novice to the industry, its clear Angie understands the importance of freedom and connecting through the creative process. Songwriting must be driven by a desire to make connections, whether it’s with the musicians and producers in the studio or those who will be listening at home, in their car, or at the gym.
It’s not just about success. It’s about making music that matters.
“Of course I want to be able to make a living, but no my main goal is the message that I’m sharing through my music. If I could spend the rest of my life singing and if people want to hear my music for the rest of my life, that’s what I want to do.”
Angie Miller returns for two hometown shows at the Cabot Theatre in Beverly on May 17 and 18.