Pip Millett’s dream collaborators would make a supreme dinner party. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter selects James Blake, Joni Mitchell, Otis Redding – the latter of which Millett covered in her own stripped-back rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness”. “I think there’s enough difference in those artists, from me, to make a really cool song,” she settles.
One thing the Mancunian has in common with the artists from her carefully considered trio is a deeply personal approach to her work. In her June-released EP, title track “Do Well” is a timeless and nostalgic feel-good celebration of her family’s hard-working ethos. The video intersperses clips of her sister braiding Millett’s hair, with those of her in a car, driven by her boyfriend – she “loved a good car journey with music” as a kid.
“I was a pretty kooky child,” she says. “I didn’t make an effort to fit in… I was just a bit weird.” Her childhood memories are woven into the fabric of “Do Well”, as she sings sweetly of her upbringing across syncopated beats: “I was lost but later found, writing lyrics down”. I ask Millett if she gets a sense of catharsis from translating her experiences into music. “It’s a definite therapy. In my songs, that’s where I’m open. That’s where the conversation lies”.
With her intimate lyrics, sang through sultry, soft vocals, the singer is offering an open invitation into her own world. “My better songs grew from writing down my feelings when I was sad,” she explains. 2018’s “Make Me Cry”, which she recorded in a session with YouTube channel COLORS, explores the consequences of bottling up harmful emotions. Along with hundreds of supportive comments under the video, she also experienced some negative ones. “The common comment is like, ‘She looks dead behind the eyes, but this is a nice voice‘,” she laughs. “I don’t feel too bothered about it, but you want to comment back like: ‘Listen to the lyrics! What am I gonna be smiling for?’” Fellow emotional crooners have shown love and understanding though, like British R&B singer Jorja Smith. “I’ve never met Jorja and she’s given me so much support,” Millett tells me. “That’s such a nice feeling.”
Millett radiates with poised maturity, speaking with a knowing confidence about the reality of any relationship — “It’s not all dreamy all of the time. There are months where it’s really difficult.” — and suggests that jotting down your feelings, whether you’re a writer or not, is always beneficial. Though wise beyond her 21 years, it’s comforting when she seems to quote my regular internal monologue. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she admits. “I don’t completely know myself…” Luckily for us, she’s finding out through music.