MILKK Don’t Want to Be Just Another Nashville Band
It’s rare to see an independent band without any major music industry connections gain the traction and cultivate the fanbase MILKK has. In just two years, the alt-pop trio consisting of singer Pat Kiloran, drummer John Ogelby and guitarist Jack Vondrachek have been able to keep all aspects of their music — songwriting, production and creative — in-house. They've also toured the U.S. three times, released two EPs and one full-length album independently. But their work ethic doesn’t end there, with Kiloran writing music daily to find the best material possible and keep in touch with their devoted fans.
When you think of Kiloran and Ogelby’s home of Nashville, chances are the first thing that pops into your mind is country music. MILKK are defying the stereotype: They don't want to be known as just another Nashville-based band, but rather an internationally established act. Kiloran explains that it was their initial mindset that took them to the next level: “[We thought,] 'Let’s not even brand ourselves. We live out of here, we work out of here, but let’s think bigger picture and not just say [we're a] band from Nashville.' We just want to be a band.” Over the past few years, Kiloran has seen firsthand the growth of popular music in his city. “There definitely has been an [increase in] interesting, creative people here. You can find more people that are willing to push the boundaries and try new things as opposed to simply following the formula.”
MILKK's new single, “All To Myself” (out June 28), introduces a new "season" for the band. Kiloran, the primary songwriter for the band, was influenced by the urban environment of his first home in Tennessee. “It’s kind of a shift for us,” he explains. “We’ve been wanting to make it really clear how we want to be perceived, what we’re doing, and how we want to sound. With this one, it’s ... really clear the direction that we’re going.” But he admits that he doesn’t know how their primarily Gen-Z fanbase will react to the “stark shift.” “I’ve been a little afraid to take influence from hip-hop and rap. I can’t sound like that, but how can I take the sound and stuff I really love and turn it into something that still feels like us?”
For Kiloran, genres matter to a certain extent. “Genres are definitely not as important anymore, the only reason they are good is because you can at least categorize general feelings of what you want to listen to. There’s so many sub-genres and crossover genres… it doesn’t seem to matter as much now. If something is good, it’s good.” The new ability to sub-categorize or use crossover genres is a progressive move forward for the industry, he adds. “Anything goes, no confines of a certain mold; it’s artistically freeing."
Experimenting with genres is barely just "scratching the surface," however. “The [next] goal with the new stuff is to make a dent in the industry side of things,” the singer says. “I want to make it clear to the industry that people need to be paying attention to what we’re doing.” Instead of focusing on industry professionals, they realize that it’s the fans who actually create the industry. “Young people, teenagers, especially young women... I feel like are the underground secret taste-makers of what is coming up next. These young people are really believing in what we are doing. I don’t see that a lot and I never had that before this band.”
For MILKK, the love of their fans inspires them to go beyond a typical band’s accessibility and interactions, which include a phone that fans can call. “I liked the idea of being really accessible to people who care about what we’re doing,” Kiloran explains, adding that there is no hierarchy when it comes to MILKK and their listeners. “Whether they intend to or not, a lot of artists can isolate themselves from people listening to them. I think in celebrity culture it's easy to go along with the misconception that people who are doing something, whether it's big or small, are above or on a pedestal.”