by Alex Teitz
Totally Mild is the brainchild of Elizabeth Mitchell. Starting out as a solo project it has evolved into a 4 piece with developed sound and style. Their album HER comes out on February 23 and Totally Mild is already due to appear at SXSW.
Mitchell has a presence and power similar to Imelda May in HER’s first single “Today Tonight.” She gets close and intimate with the second single and ballad “Lucky Stars.”
FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for HER?
EM: We wanted Her to be a more lush pop album, we spent a lot of time making choices in the studio rather than worrying about replicating a live sound. I wanted the lyrics to be concise and honest, they are not very masked in their intentions.
FEMMUSIC: What were the biggest differences between Down Time & HER? What lessons did you learn from Down Time?
EM: Her is more of a considered album. Down Time feels like an artifact of where we were as a band, with Her we opened ourselves up to more elaborate production. I was very naive about the music industry and releasing an album when Down Time came out, you can only release your first album once. I feel more aware now which is positive and negative.
FEMMUSIC: You recently signed to Chapter Music. What made you sign with them? What benefits do they bring?
EM: Chapter Music is such a staple of the Melbourne music scene, they have released so much amazing music over the years. As a local music nerd I feel very honoured to be on their label. Guy and Ben are so committed to their bands, they stay behind everything they release 100%. There is also just something special about working with other queer people. They really see you and your experiences of the world. I really feel like they understand where I am coming from with my approach to music and life in general.
FEMMUSIC: Besides the new album, new label…your band has also changed. Tell me about the new members and what they bring to Totally Mild?
EM: Dylan Young is our new drummer. He is a child prodigy, so young and so talented. He can play every instrument put in front of him and is a pure joy to have in the band.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you and why?
EM: Huge question. I don’t know if I can pick a single song so I’ll pick an album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. If ever I’m having a musical problem I look to Rumours for the solution.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
EM: Of course. I don’t like to dwell on all the negative elements of being a woman in the music industry though. Especially now because it feels like a revolutionary time for women, femmes and non-binary people coming together and changing things. I also operate with a lot of privilege within the industry. Sure I’m a queer woman but I’m also white and cis. The problems don’t lie just with being a woman in the music industry, it’s much more intersectional than that, and it’s the whole structure that really needs questioning. It’s a matter of race, gender, class, access; it’s more complicated and nuanced than simply being a woman in the music industry.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with or collaborate with and why?
EM: I feel blessed to tour and collaborate with my band, I’d like to keep doing that until we get tired or kill each other. As for a dream celeb, I’d love to write for a pop star like Miley Cyrus or Kesha…
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry and why?
EM: Things move and change so slowly. More women, more queer people, more people of colour; less boys clubs. It does feel like things are getting better but maybe it’s the bubble? I’d like the bubble to get bigger, I think it is slowly, maybe, I don’t know