When Pip Millett was a child her family dubbed her and her sister “the silent twins” due to their quiet nature. However, as with many playful nicknames, it wasn’t entirely accurate. “I was always quietly confident,” she explains now, some ten years down the line. “I’ve just always been calm about it.”
Calmness is the key to Pip’s music; a blissful fusion of R&B and soul that’s always full of feeling. Her love affair with music began during those quiet school days when she received guitar lessons as a present from her mum. Initially picking up the bass, where she learned to play wild rock songs by artists like The White Stripes and Slipknot, Pip eventually moved her way up to six strings. “It made me come out of myself a little,” she says of her early lessons. “It was a massive boost to me.”
Born in Manchester, Pip moved out of the city and into the countryside as a child following her parents split. She jokes that she and her siblings were “the only brown people in the town” but they always felt welcome in the area. It would be around 10 years later that Pip would lose her father, still at a relatively young age. It’s this that Pip cites as being a key part of her determined outlook and disregard for other people’s opinions. “I think I stopped caring,” she recalls. “I was self-assured but always a bit weird. To be honest I don’t think I ever wanted to fit in. I never tried.”
A move to London to study music was Pip’s first indication that stepping into the limelight, while still refusing to conform, might be what she’d been after all along. “I knew I wanted to sing from a young age,” she says, though it’s always been writing that helped her the most. In many ways it feels that the precise nature of her words take precedence over her low-key vocals.
Though her releases to date can be counted on a couple of hands, Pip has shown that she’s not here to make up the numbers. Take the delicate and melodic “Make Me Cry,” for example, or “Talk About It,” a raw moment of yearning set to a deceptively upbeat rhythm. “My first song, the one that’s done the best, is about being depressed,” she says of ‘Make Me Cry.’ “It’s a break-up song but I’m breaking up with depression.”
Feelings of solitude also creep into “Drunk & Alone,” a tender late-night jam written about the trials of a long-distance relationship. “It can feel sad and lonely,” she says of missing someone hundreds of miles away. “Part of that’s in my head but that anxiety is part of a relationship sometimes. I’d go on a night out and come home alone and hate it. I’ve never felt more lonely.”
These early releases have earned Pip many fans, including contemporaries like Jorja Smith. Smith has helped boost Pip’s music on multiple occasions, using her music on Instagram and shouting her out in interviews. “It’s really nice,” Pip says. “We’ve chatted via DM and I appreciate the support.”
In terms of musical influences, however, Pip looks to the past for inspiration. She cites Bob Marley and Joni Mitchell as teachers in the art of storytelling and says she “Can’t remember” a time Lauryn Hill’s music wasn’t in her life. All of these artists were regular fixtures in the car on long rides with her mum back in the day. “I’d always go on car journeys just to listen to some music,” she laughs.
Having moved on from her quiet life and become the artist she always was, Pip is determined to keep making music she insists will always be “chilled but emotional.” Whatever comes next, a generation caught in its feelings might just have a new soundtrack.