Austin Retro-Pop Singer Jazz Mills Talks Noteworthy Collaborations, First Solo EP
With giant doe eyes and a smooth, affecting voice, singer Jazz Mills is more like the pop sweethearts of the ’60s than many of her similarly retro-minded crooning peers. (Sorry, Zooey Deschanel.) Mills has collaborated with dozens of artists, including the Black Angels and the Kills, and she even formed the group Cowboy and Indian with actor Jesse Plemons, best known for playing sociopath Todd Alquist on ‘Breaking Bad.’ With the recent release of her self-titled EP, the Austin singer has stepped out on her own for the first time, delivering five bittersweet, dulcet tracks of pure longing.
Shortly after her EP’s release, Mills responded via email to a series of questions, dishing about her past projects, her first time on the stage and the challenges of going solo.
What are some of your favorite venues around Austin?
My favorite venue of all time in Austin was Momo’s, and it’s seriously such a bummer that it’s gone, even though it’s been almost two years now. I like playing at Strange Brew, Cactus Cafe and places similar to those because they have such good sound.
Being that you’re from San Angelo, in an isolated southwest region of Texas, what does Austin provide to you as an artist?
Pretty much all the tools you need to become a self-sufficient musician, which you cannot get in San Angelo. I love my hometown very much, and it is full of some of the best people I know, but for the most part, the town doesn’t look at music as a legitimate career. Austin is proud of their musicians, and even though there are so many of us here, this town does a really good job at giving you a chance to make a decent living playing music. There is even an organization called HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians), who will give you health insurance if you are a working musician. Yes, please!
What was your firs time performing like?
My first concert was a talent show when I was 10, and I sang ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ I had been singing my whole life, but that was the very first time I prepared a specific song for a special performance, and I have no idea why I would pick a Dylan song because every song of his has, like, 11 verses.
Your mother, Tree Mills, is a musician. Did she influence your wanting to pursue music?
She didn’t influence my want to pursue music, but she is why I sing, love and believe in music. She said I was singing before I was talking.