We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Hi! Thanks so much for having me. Risk and I had a very dodgy relationship most of my life. Until the last five years, I was paralyzed by perfection. This robbed me of the chance to even take a risk because I couldn’t handle the reality or even the possibility of failing. This evidenced itself in multiple ways throughout my musical pursuits.
The unwillingness to risk also kept me from opportunities to grow. Because I don’t think growth can often occur without risk.
Somewhere along the line, I realized my own voice of fear was the main voice telling me I couldn’t do something. And so, I decided to begin getting out of my own way. Now, I think of risk as an opportunity to show up. I don’t think those voices of fear have gotten any smaller. Showing up and being seen, specifically as a musician, still feels incredibly vulnerable. Singing in front of people is a risk of showing wounds, vulnerable parts of my story, and sacred parts of my story. In addition, there’s always the opportunity to play a wrong chord, get my words jumbled, or say something incredibly awkward. At the same time, some of my proudest moments have been my biggest risks. Most recently, I released my first EP, Clearing, and two music videos, a live performance of White Knuckles, and a mountain top singing of the title track, Clearing.
Risk also allows the opportunity for the giving of grace to myself. Making a mistake, being imperfect, is not a question of if. It’s a question of when- because it will happen. Now, I try to reframe risk not only as an opportunity to show up vulnerably in front of others, but to show up gracefully for myself.
I think as I initially practiced risking, I shut the part of me up that feared risk. That voice didn’t feel helpful so I locked it away. More recently, I’ve been practicing tending to that vulnerable fear within me. I tell myself what’s true and try to gently carry my fear with me. Because the risk of showing up is scary as hell. That fear makes sense and deserves to be validated. My hope is that as I honor my fear, as I show up to risk, I’m now showing up as my whole self- Fearful parts included.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Yes! Definitely. I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. My first memory of learning to sing was when my mom would tuck me into bed at night. We would always sing a song together. That’s where I first learned to match pitch, harmonize, and blend with someone else. I’ve been singing since then throughout elementary, middle school, and high school in various choirs, honor choirs, etc.
After high school, I studied Vocal Music Education in college with a specialization in vocal jazz and spent the last four years teaching elementary music in Eagle County, Colorado. While these experiences shaped me, often I was always learning music as a job, especially in college. I remember someone once asking me what kind of music I liked, and I didn’t know how to answer. Because I was mainly always listening to the music I had to learn. I loved music, I knew I loved music. And at the same time, it could be a fickle friend.
Teaching elementary music, I began to realize there was a difference between engaging with music as a skill and profession, and as a personal joy and delight. I realized I needed music to be a healthy person. It was a way for me to process and engage with life and myself creatively and meaningfully. So I began songwriting.
Over the past five years, I’ve taught myself to play guitar, grown in the skill of songwriting, and furthered my vocal ability. I hope what sets me apart is my desire to always be transparent with my own creative process and humanity. I know for me, I wish someone would’ve told me, “No one knows what they’re doing. It’s okay to be human.” So I guess, I’m trying to give what I wasn’t. Transparency and authenticity to the process that is being human. Songwriting is the medium to deliver that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man. I’m fairly new to Denver. I moved here August 2020 to begin graduate school in School and Clinical Counseling. So pandemic Denver was a little harder to explore than pre-Covid Denver. So I could probably take more suggestions than what I have to give! haha!
But so far, I would say, I’ve loved exploring Denver’s coffee scene as a grad student. My favorite coffee shop is definitely Honey Hill Cafe. My other favorite part of the city is South Pearly Street and Wash Park Area. If you haven’t had a drink at Hazel’s yet, you must!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Sheesh. There are definitely many people who have patiently loved and supported me throughout this pursuit. James Kenley has been a great friend and mentor. John McCall and James Connor are great friends who produced and mixed my EP, Clearing. So many musicians played on the album and have been so supportive. Connor Williams and Tony G. were such encouraging people in putting myself out in the world musically, as well as providing opportunities initially. As well as so many friends and family have listened, encouraged, and shared my music. It’s truly been such a good and gracious gift to be encouraged by so many loving people.
Facebook: Laura Miller Creative
Images by Madi Rae, Gloria Kim, and Veux Studios