Milly from The Miltones

Milly Tabak The Miltones
The Miltones
“You just want to bloody play music!” Milly from the Miltones talks about the constant conflict between creating music and managing a brand.


The Miltones, a West Auckland five piece offering a “razor-sharp blues and bayou folk-frenzy” have been named in the lineup for next year’s WOMAD festival.  “I’m in total disbelief, I just didn’t think it would happen,” says songwriter and front woman Milly Tabak.

What I learned in my conversation with Milly, is that anything can happen. Driving with her mum when the announcement came over the radio that The Mick Fleetwood Band would be coming to New Zealand, Milly turned to her Mum and said, “We’re gonna open for him. I don’t know how, but we’re gonna.” And that’s exactly what happened. I got the picture pretty quickly that I was talking with a very tenacious and driven musician!

“We were a relatively new band at the time,” she says. We’ve come a long way since then.” (Read: WOMAD audiences, you’re in for a treat). They released their debut self-titled album in July (produced by Ben Edwards), and off the back of a great tour drawing big crowds, Milly said, “The heat from that really helped us get in to WOMAD I think.”

While she has never been to WOMAD before, Milly says she was inspired to apply as a musician because she loves New Plymouth – recalling treasured whitebaiting trips with her father who recently passed away. She thought it was a long shot, so was in complete disbelief when she learned they were accepted, and said they have been treated “like royalty” by the WOMAD team. “It’s great to have someone looking out for you like that.”

“We’re really lucky in New Zealand because we get a lot of great international acts, but you don’t really get the different types of exotic acts you can discover at a festival like WOMAD.” She is most excited about seeing Rodrigo and Gabriella play – citing a missed opportunity to see them play in Amsterdam three years ago (her very traditional aunt wouldn’t let her go because she thought she was too hungover!).

Milly shared that The Miltones’ rapid upward trajectory has been greatly helped by two things: seeking out the help of music mogul Campbell Smith, and employing a PR agency.

Not knowing Campbell Smith personally, but in need of his knowledge and knowhow as a music promoter, Milly said she invited him to one of their gigs and they started talking. Leveraging that connection, it was Campbell Smith that she called upon hearing the news about The Mick Fleetwood Band, and asked if he could put her in touch with the promoters.

Upon completion of their album, Milly then approached Lisa at The Label and asked for help with publicity.

“Having PR support has been invaluable. You spend so much energy trying to write and create music, and then thinking about publicity and Facebook content and stuff – it takes a lot out of your soul, it’s super defeating. You’re constantly organising. You just want to bloody play music!”

Milly said The Label have been instrumental in getting numbers to their shows. Playing live on Jesse Mulligan’s Radio New Zealand show Milly said really increased the band’s exposure. “I would ask people kind enough to come up and talk to us after the show how they found out about us, and they’d all say ‘Jesse Mulligan’s radio show.’”

Talking about the temptation to keep costs down and manage publicity and social media herself, Milly said there is absolutely no temptation. “They even cover all the little things you don’t think about and don’t have time to think about and organise, like resizing photos for media use.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by artist Fleur Woods on The Big Idea, “Making the work is a full time job. Selling the work is another full time job.”

The Miltones are playing two shows at WOMAD, as well as hosting a cooking demonstration at the festival. “I’m gonna have to practice cutting up onions,” Milly jokes.

After WOMAD, The Miltones are headed to Nelson to perform at MarchFest, and after that, Milly says they’d like to focus on breaking into the Australian market.

WOMAD - World of Music, Arts and Dance - the world's festival is happening right here in Aotearoa 16-18 March 2018!

  • When: Friday 16 March 2018, 4:30pm—Sunday 18 March 2018, 11:00pm
  • Where: TSB Bowl of Brooklands, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth

Written by

Christine Mackintosh

1 Dec 2017

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