This month local Asian American musician Joy Caroline Mills took over our Stay Tuned playlist. It is full of eclectic genres that can transform your bad day into a bad bitch takeover. We invited Mills over to the studio to chat about the mix, as well as her new single that comes out next Friday.
In addition to being a solo artist, Mills also plays lead guitar and sings backup vocals for the local band Karate, Guns & Tanning. She is on the board of Musical Family Tree; there she is on the Curation Committee and focuses on finding new music to play. Mills also works at Marian University as the Theater Coordinator. Check out her playlist below and keep up with Mills on Instagram and Twitter.
Cory Cathcart: Tell me about your musical background.
Joy Caroline Mills: I’ve been playing for seventeen years now. I’ve lived in Indianapolis the majority of that time. I started as a singer/songwriter, and then I went to school and I learned how to do music production, and recording and engineering. I like to do that as well. I married the two. I’ve always been really into 90s pop. That’s a lot of what it [her music] sounds like. Other than that, I took a lot of guitar lessons and started playing coffee shops when I was twelve–been grinding pretty much forever. I started gigging when I was really young and then just kept going.
CC: Let’s talk about the mix you curated. What’s the mood? What should we be doing while listening?
JCM: It really runs the gamut. I think it’s important for me to try to listen to as many varying styles as possible. It’s mostly songs I listen to when I need to feel empowered. I guess it is good for if you’re having a bad day, or if you’re just driving and you want something that is unpredictable. I drive to those songs most of the time. I’m trying to think of something crazy you could do. (Laughs)
CC: What artists, in Indiana and beyond, are you excited about right now?
JCM: Locally, Kristen Bales, she’s on the playlist. She is releasing a bunch of new music this year and I’m really excited for her. She’s more in the Jazz Pop theme and I’m really excited to see what she does with that. Arbor Avenue–also from Indiana–they do a lot of collaborations with LoFi artists. I’m really excited for those two. I’m also just really excited for the resurgence of live music and to catch up with all the other local bands, like Wife Patrol, and see how everyone is doing. I’m excited for everybody, but definitely those two. I’m really curious to see what Kacey Musgraves is going to do, because her new record was so different. Everybody hated it, but I really liked it. I mean, it’s no Golden Hour, but I wonder what she’s going to do next. She does a lot of Bollywood and Asian influences. I’m really, really excited for that.
CC: What music project are you particularly proud of?
JCM: I think, honestly, the one that I’m doing right now. It’s been so many years… I’ve had an album sitting on my desktop for the last five or six years. I think I’m most proud of being twenty-nine now, and still loving it like I used to. I just want to play music and put it out. I don’t really care what happens with it. It’s my truth. I am most excited for the growth that I’m experiencing now, and then in the future. I guess feeling more comfortable releasing and not caring about all this stuff that comes with it, like promotion stuff; doing it because it’s my truth and something I really enjoy.
CC: What are you working on now?
JCM: My band I’m in, Karate, Guns & Tanning, we’re playing and recording as well. So that’s going on. I play lead guitar and then I do some backup vocals.
CC: What are your interests outside of music?
JCM: I work in theater. I love theater so much. My day job is theater, and then all my other time is music. I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do I also like to watch shows like Selling Sunset, or Love is Blind on Netflix. I like watching those reality shows, or being outside, too. In my free time I’m either recording or I’m in the theater usually.