Milly Raccoon is an up-and-coming musician and visual artist, currently based in Nashville, whose new Misa Arriaga-produced album Frankincense & Myrrh is at radio now. Holler Country says she “is one of Americana’s best kept secrets. The fiddle player and singer has been eccentrically reimagining bluegrass, jazz and old timey country as feminist anthems for a world on fire.” Lonesome Highway calls the album ” a charming patchwork collection that oscillates between traditional instrumentals, country-tinged jazz and alt-folk songs.” According to The Rocking Magpie, “dipping her pen in a variety of influences, Milly Raccoon manages to tie them all together in a beautifully off-the-wall but totally on point set of tunes.”
We spoke to her about the new release – which debuted at #15 this week on the NACC Folk Chart – and more.
AmApAc: Congratulations on the release of your new album Frankincense & Myrrh! How did the process of creating this record differ from the process of creating your previous releases?
Milly Raccoon: In the past I was on my own in the production of my albums. I would hire friends to play the instruments I couldn’t (or chose not to) play, and friends with home studios to help do basic recording or let me use their equipment. I learned a lot about production by trial and error, and then when I started working with Misa [, the album’s producer], I already knew how to hire people, set up sessions, etc. Now that I was more open to spending a lot of money on making an album, and able to use remotely recorded tracks, I realized I could have any instrumentation I wanted played by anyone I wanted, as opposed to whoever was available to come in for a small pay. I’m very thankful to the people who worked on my past albums, but Misa’s level of recording experience really took it further than ever before.
You’re currently based in Nashville, but you’ve spent time playing music in other towns, including Seattle, and you’ve also got some considerable road experience. How has travel impacted your music and your creative process?
The stresses, loneliness, and mystery of the road make great songwriting material, as well as seeing and hearing many different types of artists and musicians I wouldn’t be fully exposed to by staying in one place. On the other hand, staying in one place allows you to develop relationships further and integrate more deeply into a community, so you can really create something bigger.
In addition to creating the music for Frankincense & Myrrh, you’ve also animated videos for a couple of its tracks. Can you tell us a bit more about your animation process?
I’ve actually animated videos for five of the tracks on Frankincense and Myrrh, as well as for a few of my older recordings, and even for friends’ recordings.
My animation process involves sketching or writing storyboards based on the lyrics and instrumental sections of the songs, deciding on an art medium and style. The media I’ve used for animations so far are drawing, painting, collage, felt, glitter, toys and other 3-D objects, and nature materials. Once I create the characters, backgrounds and props, I set up the scenes as per my storyboards, and take a photograph for every movement I want to happen in the scene. I use an animation app to arrange my hundreds or thousands of photographs into the right order and turn them into a video.
In working with A man A plan A canal, you’ve chosen to get your music on the air at college and community radio stations around the country. Do you have a favorite station (over-the-air or online) or DJ? Why do you like them so much?
I listen to my local station WMOT because I like the combination of my favorite big-time roots artists and local acts. I like the idea of still listening to radio over local radio waves. Also I’m partial to WYEP Pittsburgh because I grew up with my mom listening to it in the kitchen. I also listen to WSM 650 AM Nashville all the time.
If you got to do a guest DJ spot on your favorite station, what’s one song you’d definitely have to play? Why would you choose it?
I would play “Happy Forever,” because it’s closest to the true me, and I know I can play it well whether I’m solo or with a band.
What is an interesting, non-musical fact or story about you that you’d love a DJ to share with their listeners after playing one of your songs on the air?
I have taught many subjects besides music, including French, English, Contact Improv, Go, Meditation, and vegan cooking.
Now that you’ve released Frankincense & Myrrrh, what are you planning on doing next either as an artist or in life?
I want to write new songs for my next album, get better at fiddle, guitar, and voice, and learn the banjo. I’d like more commissions for animations and other visual art. I also want to work on getting to play at more festivals and tours for my band. I have a lot of ideas for new music videos and educational videos for my Patreon and YouTube platforms.