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September 2019

Hot Milk get existential: "We're all just a little bacteria on this earth, just floating in space"

Ahead of playing Upset’s stages at The Great Escape and Live At Leeds, rock’s latest upstarts are here to shake things up.
Published: 10:06 am, April 29, 2019Words: Steven Loftin.
Hot Milk get existential: "We're all just a little bacteria on this earth, just floating in space"

Mancunian four-piece Hot Milk are a project born out of unbridled love for music. Just ask co-conspirators, Han Mee and James Shaw.

"Music is so personal," Han begins. "You listen to it on your own, in your headphones, in your head. That is a ridiculous thing anyway, that is so unique to any human kind of experience. If you're listening to some words, you're always going to try and apply it to yourself, especially if you're sat on your own."

The pair's journey before Hot Milk was one that saw them skirt industry edges with various jobs, before jumping right in - or as Han astutely says: "Hang on a second, all our mates were doing this, and they're just as good as we are, so why don't we have a little bash at it, and we did… so this is where we are!"

They were also in a relationship. "Throughout the process of writing the first record, we broke up - which actually doesn't reflect in the music at all," Han is quick to clarify.

Thankfully, they parted romantic ways on good terms - in case you couldn't tell by them, you know, still being in a band together.

"He's my best friend, and we were writing in our flat and stuff, and then throughout the process of writing the first record we broke up, which doesn't reflect in the music at all, all the music is about our lives."

James continues: "More about the frustration of where we were at work-wise, and being in the industry we wanted to be in but not what we wanted to do in it."

Gearing up to release their debut EP 'Are You Feeling Alive?', if the title didn't give its motives away then Han's happy to divulge a bit further.

"It's about not feeling very ‘alive', or if you exist in the way that we want to exist. It's like having an itch that's not scratched properly. So me and James were like, if we're going to do this, let's write some fuckin' songs, send them out anonymously. We did, and luckily we had a load of people interested."

"We're here now. We're able to quit our jobs and have a go because I've seen bands come and go, and for us, I just needed to make sure that we had a go at it. [There's] obviously the music as well, we were like nothing makes us happier than writing songs, and playing songs that we wrote in our bedroom, it's amazing really."

It takes a particular person, or people, to garner the courage to drop a safe job in pursuit of a dream. "My attitude to life might be a bit loose because I just think what will be will be," says Han, but it all comes with solid logic backing it up. "There are no rules really if you think about it," she continues. "Because we're all just a little bacteria on this earth, just floating in space, and we're all walking around like, ‘what is music?' You know what I mean? Erm… that's a bit of a deep one…" Yeah, just a bit.

Existentialism aside, Hot Milk are fresh. They're an amalgamation of a lot of things, so much so that they've called themselves ‘emo-powerpop', because "as we were writing it, we realised it didn't make sense anywhere like it didn't make sense in a genre that already existed."

They have the heart-on-sleeve tact of emo while barraging euphoric choruses lift you higher and higher.

"I read something a while back about The 1975, and the way Matty Healy writes," James begins. "It was on his first album, and he was talking about themes, and feelings and moments as opposed to being ‘this song is about this that happened then to this person'; it's more like a way of being personable and absorbing the music and applying it to something that you feel, and you want. There's no right or wrong answer; all our songs they can be applied in multiple situations. If someone is having breakup then…"

Han interjects: "‘Take Your Jacket' might be really good for them…"

"…that was more about telling people to get out and fuck off…"


As the pair burst into laughter, and the positive energy is tangible. Live, you'll see nothing but grinning faces and good feelings, and that's because they found a channel to fire their negativity through, to unleash the PMA that's been dying to come out.

"There are no rules!" Han enthuses. "It doesn't exist in our head, so we're just going to go for it and write some songs and if they hit people then awesome, and if not then, ah well, we'll just go back to our jobs then!"

"The bottom line is we wrote these for us," Han states. "These were written when we didn't know what we were going to do with ‘em. We wrote them for us because we needed to. Because I was having a shit time, and so were you. We weren't having a nice time. I couldn't give a shit about whether this goes amazingly well, or doesn't. All I need to know is that I've done what I need to… and it's so freeing!" 

Taken from the May issue of Upset. Hot Milk play Upset's stages at both Live At Leeds (4th May) and The Great Escape (9th-11th May). Their debut EP 'Are You Feeling Alive?' is out 3rd May.

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