It’s time to update your language skills as well as your playlists! ‘Thuong Qua Is Vietnamese For I Love You’ and it’s also the name of the debut single of [mila], one of the best up-and-coming bands that we need to introduce you to. Lucky for you, we got to talk to band members CJ and Wren about all things [mila], so we can catch you right up to date on your new favorite band!
‘Thuong Qua Is Vietnamese For I Love You’ is your debut single, congrats by the way, what a moment! What about this single makes it the perfect way to introduce the world to [mila]?
Wren: Thank you! It’s kind of weird to put it into words, but from the song’s inception, it was always going to be the first single. We have a number of other songs we’re going to release, but however good they all were, none of them felt like the proper introduction to [mila]. So I sat down with my co-writer Liam Hurson and we got to work on what would end up becoming ‘Thuong Qua.’ Big shout out to our friend Aaron Couto for the sax solo at the end of the song.
CJ: I think Wren really hit the nail on the head when it came to the song. It’s extravagant, bombastic and fun as hell. Vocally the song is split evenly between Wren and I, it really showcases what we’re all about and how we want people to perceive our band.
Now that everyone’s been introduced to their new favorite alt-pop band, what are 3 things that our readers should know about [mila]?
Wren: Oh jeez uh, we lift, we swear like sailors, and we are not tall.
CJ: Weird things to choose but he’s right. I guess something people should absolutely know about [mila] is you should expect, to never expect what we put out. We are very weird people, and our music most definitely reflects that. But yes, we are not tall.
‘Thuong Qua Is Vietnamese For I Love You’ is such an interesting song title. Could you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the title and its meaning?
Wren: So CJ is half Vietnamese and her older sister is my partner. Their mother has been teaching me to speak Vietnamese for basically the entire time we’ve been together. ‘Thuong Qua’ is one of the first things she taught me to say. We tell each other “I love you” all the time, don’t get it twisted, but being able to say it in her mother tongue, in a deeper way? I don’t know, it’s just special. On top of that, I get to make CJ’s culture, that she’s so connected with and cares so much about, an integral part of the band. Our very first single is a love letter to her identity. I love her in a different way of course, but just as much as I do her sister. I can’t think of a better way to express that.
You’ve said that the song is about having the strength to choose what’s best for you in the face of toxicity; why is this message important to you as a band?
Wren: I mean let’s be real, doing things that are bad for you can be a lot of fun. Especially in the internet age we all live in. Life is bleak, everything feels like it’s in shambles, and it gets worse by the day. You look at your phone to be up to date on the events of the world and the sadness and negativity of it all is suffocating. It’s too easy to get caught up in doing things that block all of that out. We hope we can remind our listeners that the quick fix, those poisonous shots of serotonin, aren’t the end all be all. There are healthier more fulfilling ways to cope. It isn’t easy obviously, and you can fall back into those bad habits. Progress isn’t linear. Just keep moving forward.
The music video had such a fun concept, and you looked like you were having a great time! How did you come up with the concept, and what was it like to shoot it?
Wren: I actually had a completely different concept for the video in the beginning. Originally it was going to have a much darker and more sinister vibe. It was like a cosmic horror. “The Boss” character you see throughout the video was going to be controlling the band with evil magic, trying to use us to create a perfect piece of art. That pursuit was going to break him by the end of the video. The two talents who did the video for us Caleb Spilios and Robin Glass did videos for other bands in our scene, and I thought they were incredible. They made a film called Blood Moon and I thought it was great! Once I saw it I knew we couldn’t work with anyone else. I told Caleb the idea, and he thought it was cool. But he asked if we’d give him the chance to do his own thing. I trusted him to do so, and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.
CJ: It was my first time being in a music video; it was a really great experience. Wren and I were there for pretty much the entire thing. It was so much fun, especially all the shots in the dojo. I honestly can’t wait to do the next one. That being said, though, the performance shots were A LOT of work. Wren warned me it wasn’t all fun and games shooting a video, but I gotta say I didn’t expect it to be THAT intense.
You’ve been in the studio writing a lot and working with people like Chris Piquette. While you were writing, you were also getting more stage experience filling in with some metal bands. With all that different music around you, when you’re first starting out on a project, what’s it like trying to find your sound, and how do you know when it clicks?
Wren: I don’t want to spoil things for the future, so I’ll just say CJ and I are big fans of a lot of genres of music. Like you’d hear us say we’re mega fans of one band, say BTS for example. You’d never expect us to also love someone like the MA death metal band Blood Tithe, or Fuming Mouth. We can explore sounds all across the spectrum, but at the end of the day, we’re still the ones writing the music. It’s all unequivocally us. I think when people hear what else we have to offer it’ll all make sense
Are there any bands you listened to growing up that have influenced your songwriting or sonic energy?
Wren: There’s a lot for sure, but I think it’d be hard for either of us to credit anyone besides Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy. It really all starts there. Particularly when I was younger, I read an interview with Panic. Brendon Urie mentioned when they were writing ‘Lying Is The Most Fun,’ they were trying to rip off Brand New’s ‘Sic Transit Gloria.’ Those songs sound nothing alike. That idea has permeated my songwriting ever since. I honestly wonder if listeners will be able to tell what songs I was thinking of when they listen to [mila].
CJ: Yea, Panic and Fall Out Boy have been the inspiration from the very beginning. Even now we always find ourselves going back and listening to them, and watching their old live videos.
Now that you’ve launched [mila] with such a vibrant and energetic single, what’s next for the band? Can we expect more new music or live shows in the near future?
CJ: We’ve got another video for a song called ‘The Trash Was Avant Garde And Jack Will Love Me Forever’ that we’re wicked excited about. And we’re talking to Caleb about shooting another video right now. So lots of new music for sure.
Wren: I don’t know about live shows in the near future. In old bands I’d always play out despite having little to no material released. It’s just a weird vibe, playing songs nobody knows, to nobody for months until people know the songs and there’s eventually people in the room is definitely a tried and true method. I just want to do things different this time around I guess. Once we have 4 or 5 songs out we’ll probably start booking shows.
Speaking of touring, if [mila] were to hit the road, who would be on your dream tour lineup and why?
Wren: Dream tour is definitely with Bring Me The Horizon and The 1975. Those are easily two of our favorite bands and I think we’d fit really well on a bill with both of them. When everyone hears the rest of the material we’re sitting on, I think they’ll agree.
CJ: Definitely BMTH and The 1975 like Wren said. But I’d also kill to tour with Paramore, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. It’d probably never happen, and it would be weird as hell, but I’d love to play shows with someone like Speed or Trapped Under Ice too.
Finally, while we’re talking about dreams and goals, are there any milestones or things you’d love to achieve as a band in 2023?
Wren: I think we just want to reach as many ears and eyes as possible this year. We’ve been plotting on this for what feels like forever, and I hope by the end of the year, we can say we gained a lot of fans in the short time we’ve been an active project.
Well, we hope that after reading this interview, we’ve helped [mila] get a head start on their 2023 goal and some of you are streaming ‘Thuong Qua Is Vietnamese For I Love You’ as we speak!
Let us know if you’ve added [mila] to your playlists and if you had a favorite part of the interview. You can drop us all the details in the comment section or head over to Twitter or Instagram to talk all things Thuong Qua!