Some people seem destined to create art and use their talent to improve the world. Others simply fall into it. For 17 year old Millie Turner the reality is somewhere between. Literally having been born into a family of artists, the cosmic wheels had already been set in motion. A painting father, an art school teacher as a mother – all roads seemed to lead toward working in something creative. As to ending up as a musician though? That all seemed to happen by chance.
Growing up in Homerton, a small area in east London, Millie had always been surrounded by creative types. And it’s worth nothing she isn’t part of the new wave of families who have recently moved into the area, subtly changing the tone of the place with the scent of roasting coffee beans and locally brewed ale. “Our school used to be very multicultural,” she says, “but now it’s become more gentrified.”
However Homerton is home – it’s where Millie’s lived her whole life – and, despite its many changes, she sees it as a great place to be. “Wherever you go there’s something interesting or new that no one knows about. It’s a corner of London that’s really creative,” she explains, touching on how she first become interested in the arts, which she’s currently studying at A-Level.
So far, so growing up in one of the United Kingdom’s creative capitals – a place where art explodes from every street corner and the shape of the buildings change with each season. It’s an unconventional upbringing (at least to some), but what’s even more unconventional is the way Millie became introduced to music. Sure, her dad played music around the house – things like U2 and standard father fodder – but it was a community church where she initially started to collaborate with people.
Having learned the piano since a young age (and eventually giving up – “I hated grades so much it was horrible”), the church gave Millie a new arena in which to practice her improv skills. And by the way, when we’re talking about church, please remove any strict stereotypical biblical aesthetic from your mind. “We wouldn’t play church songs, it was more Beatles stuff. It was a weird church!” explains Millie, detailing her introduction to genres like jazz and another instrument, the steel pans, which she also plays. “There was a whole band and if you wanted to join in, you would come in and play songs.”
Hotly-tipped new singer-songwriter Olivia makes the culturally eclectic, straight-talking kind of music that could only ever be born out of London. Daughter to Jamaican/Guyanese and English parents, she’s been performing since she was eight. It’s a passion that has taken her from a gospel choir to busking in the streets to the acclaimed BRIT school. Since then, she’s been on the road with Rudimental and in the studio honing her songwriting. Every Olivia song is a story. And not your epic romances or long lost love sagas, but down the pub one Friday night with your mates kind of stories – falling in love with a boy that loves a shandy, getting wolf whistled in the street, or her boyfriend telling a white lie and being exposed on speakerphone (Reason to Stay). “It’s cool to be honest, It don’t cost you to care, Trust is a virtue that we should share.” Naming everyone from Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, and Carole King as inspiration, it’s the artists with an original sound and engaging storyline that she really admires “where the music reads like a book, and each song feels like the next chapter”.