'American Idol' Alum Angie Miller on her Debut EP: "It's 100 Percent Me"
"It's different than what people are expecting," says the season-12 finalist of "Weathered"
It’s one week before the release of Angie Miller’s debut EP, Weathered, and the American Idol season-12 alum is busy with a very important task: mailing out envelopes of goodies to her fans. “I have 1,400 packages that I am sending out today,” she says. “It’s crazy.”
The packages, which include autographed CDs and other treats, are rewards earmarked for her "Dreamers," fans that supported her, not only on the Fox show, but in the crowdfunding campaign that financed the 20-year-old Beverly, Massachusetts native’s independently released record. “I love being able to say that all of this happened because my fans raised more than I expected on a crowdfunding site; How amazing is that? Not many people can say that. They are amazing. They blow me away.”
Miller’s road to Weathered, out on Nov. 12, wasn’t always a smooth one. A fan favorite during the Idol's 2013 run, she went all the way to No. 3, but stopped short of the top two. Still, she was awarded two plum guest spots in the season finale, guesting with her own idol, Jessie J, and a duet with season-eight star, Adam Lambert.
The American Idol summer tour, a holiday trek with Michael W. Smith, and the release of the gorgeous “This Christmas Song,” followed, but Miller found herself facing a future in the music business without immediate label offers. As she explains: “My hope when I was done with Idol was to get signed and for things to move quickly and easy, but that’s not what happened. And I'm glad it's not what happened. At the time, it was a huge blessing in disguise because it got to the point [where] there was a label that was interested and there were a few different routes I could have taken … but every single way, I didn’t have complete control of my brand and my music, and I was left in the dark about a lot of things.”
An admitted industry novice, Miller knew one thing: She wanted a say in the kind of music she would make. She also made an artistic decision not to go in the obvious direction of recording a Christian album. “I was preparing for people to maybe not agree with that decision or to be surprised," she says. "I knew there were going to be people saying, 'She’s not doing that?' For a while there, I went back and forth."
The push-pull to go either mainstream or Christian did weigh on her. Recorded with the Red Decibel team, who coincidentally worked with Idol alum Colton Dixon (“that’s a cool connection,” says Miller), Weathered offers a little of both. As Miller tells it: “With this EP, I wanted to take it to the next level. I want everything I sing about to be honest. Each song is a moment in my life and a certain stage in the past two years — the good times, the bad times, the stress, growing up and learning from mistakes and what I'd see happen around me. Something really important to me is lyrics, and I always want to be a writer on every single one of my songs, even in the future. I want these songs to be my voice and my story and to be honest.”
Her songwriting already has some major fans. In a recent interview, former Idol judge Nicki Minaj praised Miller, and admitted that she was still listening to her song, “You Set Me Free,” long after the show ended. “When I read that, it meant so much to me, to know that an original song I performed two years ago still means something to her," says Miller. "It makes me feel like … what I'm doing is what I am supposed to be doing and that’s the best thing ever.”
Whether winner or runner-up, Idol, she said, brought her amazing opportunities, including a tour of Asia earlier this spring. “Oh my goodness, it was so nuts," she squeals. "When I first got that offer, I was like, 'Wait, what?' That is crazy.' And I can’t believe it worked. I have fans over in Asia. I don’t think I will ever get over that. I’m so thankful for it."
Right now, Miller is focused on her forthcoming album release show at Brighton Music Hall in Boston on Nov. 28 and a tour in 2015 (Miller was also selected as one of Billboard’s 21 Under 21 Class of 2015). “I'm interested in seeing how people I met along the way respond to my music," adds Miller. "I think it's different than what people are expecting. It’s 100 percent me.”
Weathered is available on iTunes.