Emil Wilk is surprisingly not wearing the blue turtle neck from his press photos on stage at Voxhall in Aarhus. Instead he has a black t-shirt with Janet Jackson on the front. The colour blue seems more fitting with his warm, soothing brand of tropical pop though. He has stage presence and the crowd despite having only previously heard ‘If we want to’ and ‘Everything you know’, sway along and are enthused by the new material (I later find out that this is first time the new tracks have been played live). Steel drums = saxophone…
We meet by the entrance to the venue, just after the packed Liss gig. After sending him a text with a description of what I’m wearing, much like a blind date, he finds me and we make our way out into the Aarhus evening, with decidedly unpredictable weather.
Take M.I.L.K.’s latest jam (“Following The Sun”) for a spin while you read the interview below.
Interview, introduction and header photo by Conor.[separator type=”space”]
We’re on a doorstep in Aarhus, next to a burger joint, while Emil waits for his burger.
With really good burgers! (excitedly)
Facing Voxhall! (also excitedly)
I don’t eat burgers; I’m vegan.
Oh you’re vegan?!
I also don’t drink milk. But hey you’re Copenhagen, born and raised?
No, actually I’m from Bornholm. You know it?
Ah! I know of it.
It’s called the sunshine island of Denmark, because it has more hours of sunshine than anywhere else.
Remind me to go there.
It’s really nice and it’s the only place with rocks. It’s actually a volcano island.
So eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis?
No no no, it’s still Denmark.
We get up from the step, since people are entering their apartment building, then sit again shortly after.
I moved to Copenhagen after high school, but had spent a lot of time here during my childhood.
So are you a full-time M.I.L.K. man now?
I just started being full time M.I.L.K. about two months ago. I’m doing lots of art projects, but now all under that name. I also direct music videos for other people: I just did one for Blondage. They’re so fucking good! Their song ‘Dive’ coming out soon is a summer smash.
You did that with Jonas Bang, right?
Yeah, he’s a good friend of mine.
He also did a video for my production mates, Pale Honey – they’re playing tomorrow at Voxhall. Who else will you be seeing here at Spot?
My sister’s actually getting married tomorrow, so I’m going back to Copenhagen. I need to be fresh.
Have you got yourself a nice dress? A nice blue one?
Haha. Yeah, exactly.
Tell me about the lead-up to you putting ‘If we want to’ on Soundcloud.
It was the first song I wrote. I’ve been writing songs for a while, but I didn’t produce music until about a year before that coming out. It came gradually. Before that I was messing around in the studio, helping a friend with some lyrics and he was like ‘Fuck! You should do music!’. I was like ‘Yes! Let’s do that!’. I started fiddling, got obsessed with it and I’ve been in the studio for like two years straight now.
Did you leave in between to go and eat and stuff?
Now and again. It’s been super intense since we started.
Did you have a manager or publicist when you put that out?
No, all that came later. Now i’m working with my manager and close friend Peter Munck and the rest of my team.We sent the track to a guy I know in the UK who I’d worked with him. Before, I did visual identity for other artists. He sent it to someone at Indie Shuffle and it hit number 1 on there, and stayed there for the whole month. Then there was NME, Spin, Beats1 – Zane Lowe. It just spiraled from there.
Indie Shuffle’s a good one to start with! I looked you up on Facebook and we have friends in common because Copenhagen is tiny. Has that smallness served you well in terms of collaborations?
M.I.L.K. is very friendship-based, like “O.K. I need a sax player… let’s call Malthe’. That’s why I called it a collective in the beginning because it was just me calling my friends saying ‘Hey. I did this track. You want to come play on it?’. Now I do more myself: I co-produced all the songs you heard just now. It was me, my producer and a mixer. There’s a smaller team now, which I think makes the sound more focused.
I listened to an interview with you where you talk about it being ‘flydende’ (fluid).
It is very liquid.
Like milk – you can pour it all over the place. It’s not such a crazy idea to have different people coming in and working on different projects, but why do you think it’s not more common in music?
I think the process of creation is fragile. It can be hard to let people into that. I wouldn’t do it differently if I had to do it again.
What about the music video for ‘If we want to’?
I’m going to do a new one. Also, the song hasn’t been released yet – I just put it on Soundcloud. It’s going to be properly released.
Your first London gig was with Leyya, who I’m actually on a compilation album with. How was that?
It was fun. All of their stuff is electronic though, whereas ours is live, so it was a funny mix, but I think people enjoyed the variation.
Who else have you supported? Next gigs?
We also supported Leon Bridges. His productions are super good.
Our next gig is the Roskilde festival. I’m really looking forward to that. Then there’s London later. Also Trailerpark festival and Distortion in Copenhagen.
I head that M.I.L.K. stands for something different every time you’re asked about it: what does it mean today?
Maybe today it means Mamma I Love Karen. Karen is my sister who’s getting married tomorrow.
That’s nice. Perhaps you can use that in your wedding speech.
What other topics do you write about from being on vaycay or wanting to be?
Escaping, whether it’s to some kind of tropical place or through dancing… What do you write about?
About being trapped inside my own head, laziness and procrastination, my goals, walking down the street in Nørrebro (area in Copenhagen), it starting to rain and everything being closed because it’s a helligdag (bank holiday)… amongst other things.
That’s nice. Good stuff! I could write about all of those as well.
Maybe we should write together. Last question: Almond milk or chocolate soya milk?
Almond for sure!
It’s so good. Soya milk is super bad for the environment.
Says the guy who’s about to have a cheeseburger…
I’m just saying – if you’re into that stuff.
We’re both bad people.
Yeah haha. Everybody is.
Let’s end on that note. Thank you Emil from M.I.L.K..
I’m going to take a photograph of you now. We’ll take a selfie together first though.
Emil grabs his burger and we walk back to the venue. I grab us both a beer (which are unfortunately a little warm) and we sit at a table with his manager. He shares his fries with me, which he assures me are vegan (these have also cooled down a bit after our walk over the bridge). M.I.L.K., on the other hand, is bubbling in the proverbial saucepan: expect some silky foam from them in the near future.