by Renee Millner

Renee Millner ’s Mixtape

by Renee Millner

Renee Millner ’s Mixtape

Renee Millner’s newest single is called So Much. It’s a song she says reminds her heavily of the ’80s, a period reflecting her own musical growing up. She also describes it as a reminder to believe in your own worth, and to not take shit from anyone. NZ Musician asked her to build a Spotify playlist to celebrate the release of So Much and Renee has obliged with this charmed blend of (mostly) Kiwi and Australian tracks that cover off plenty of growing up touchstones. She is also celebrating the release of music video for So Much, directed by videographer Hugo Eaton, and featuring Leon Crean (Taranaki Hard). Shot on the hills surrounding Mt. Taranaki, the video takes you into a journey of connection, community and self-acceptance.

Disclaimer: If you don’t like the sounds of the ’80s you should probably go no further!

I was pretty lucky growing up in Sydney at that time. What an incredible array of music being created. After high school, I went to university to study languages, joined a cult (as you do), then moved around quite a bit between inner-city Sydney, Melbourne and country NSW, before heading over to live and work in Japan for a year. Then I got introduced to J-pop. Did you know that Japan has the second biggest music industry in the world after the U.S? 

I used to visit Taranaki and my mum’s whanau as a kid for holidays. What a treat coming from the ‘burbs’ of Sydney to my grandparents’ dairy farm in Bell Block, with real milk! 

Having lived in Aotearoa now for five years, I’m still discovering the depth and diversity of the music here. Like many Aussies, I’d like to claim Crowded House as my own. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve listened to many of these older songs for years, but didn’t know they were written by Kiwi artists.

I’m actually getting quite emotional making this mixtape – it’s taking me back to my childhood – to the family swimming pool on those warm, sunny Sydney days – I’m hoping the bubble can be reinstated soon! Here’s to celebrating the old, the new, and everything in between. 

Bic RungaSway

I remember listening to Sway when I was at university in Sydney, around the same time as Lisa Loeb’s Stay and Shawn Colvin’s Sunny Came Home. It’s got a really sweet sadness to it… I heard it a while back, and someone said, “Yeah, a Kiwi wrote that”. I was like, “Of course they did”!

James Reyne: Motor’s Too Fast

Yep, I’ve got to do an acoustic cover of this song. Amazing songwriter – such a unique voice too. It’s got a really chilled, kinda daggy ’80s vibe. This one definitely came out at our house during Level 4.

The ChillsI Love My Leather Jacket

This is a new one for me. Great name for a song. I’m guessing it’s from the ’80s? 

Mireya Ramos: Climbing Fences

It was wonderful meeting Mireya Ramos and Andy Averbuch when they stayed in Taranaki after WOMAD 2020. Mireya’s voice, energy and music are infectious and incredibly mesmerising. This is such a powerful song – inspired by the events in Ferguson, Missouri, 2014. Mireya certainly made her way into the hearts of Kiwis all over the country, including mine. 

Lou’ana: Eye to Eye

Saw Lou’ana perform at Spirit 2021 and it was such an awesome show. I love her voice and her vibe. 

The Cat Empire: Still Young

One of the best live shows I’ve seen. Full of energy and enthusiasm.  And such a great brass section!

Mel Parsons: Carry On

Carry On is also one I’ve heard just recently. Mel’s voice sounds so rich and warm in this track. 

Melissa Ferrick: When Thom Sings (Lake Effect Snow) 

I’ve been listening to Melissa Ferrick for about 10 years now. I first discovered her through a girlfriend, who was from Southern California. I wish I’d made the effort to search out one of her gigs whilst I was travelling around the west coast of the States all those years ago. She writes gutsy, passionate music. 

Juliet McLean: Lullaby for Flowers

A stunningly simple, beautiful song. Moves me every time. Written by a talented songwriter with a beautiful soul. I happen to be the luckiest woman in the world getting to share my life alongside her. 

Genni Kane: Better than This

Genni is a great Aussie musician friend of mine, who I haven’t seen since the pandemic started. She also lives in the same area of NSW as my sister, brother-in-law and nephews. Not sure if this track always leaves me in tears because of the intricacies of the guitar parts, the sweet melody, or because I deeply miss my family and friends back in Oz.  

It could also be because the topic is so real in so many people’s lives – someone that is trying to leave an abusive relationship. Genni is such a beautiful and honest songwriter – with a powerhouse of a voice. Her songs are deeply moving. 

Ani Difranco: 32 Flavours

Ani Difranco is my all-time favourite female artist. She’s a wonderful lyricist and story-teller. Was due to see her in Sydney in March 2020 for the first time, but due to Covid the show was cancelled. Her longevity, devotion to songwriting, and passion inspire me. 

Missy Higgins: Set Me On Fire 

It was impossible to live in Australia in the ’90s & 2000’s and not hear Missy Higgins playing on the radio. I think we all wanted to make that many well-crafted songs. “Melody, you’re the only one that saves me, out of the cold you take me, and set me on fire.” 

Dave Dobbyn: Slice of Heaven

Still love dancing around the lounge to hits like this one 🙂 

Renee Millner: So Much

My newest single! I’m very proud of this song. Was a lot of fun putting it together with producer Sam Johnson… We created the layers one by one. It definitely reminds me of the ’80s. It’s a precious reminder to not take any shit from anyone, and to believe in your own worth.