Bo Milli

«Ich mag es, wenn Songs peinlich sind», sangt Bo Milli. «Und ich weiss alle peinlichen Sachen die ich je gemacht habe.» Die 21-jährige Norwegerin hat die vergangenen zwei Jahre damit verbracht ihr Aufwachsen in einer weltweiten Pandemie zu dokumentieren. Das Resultat? Brutal ehrliche Indie-pop Songs welche den inneren Kampf einer ganzen Generation perfekt auf den Punkt bringen.

Bo Milli – ein Talent, welches sich lohnt kennen zu lernen!

Das Konzert von Bo Milli wurde von der Schüür ins Treibhaus Luzern verlegt.

Concert Indie Pop

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Wednesday 15 November 2023

Treibhaus – Luzern

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Bo Milli

Bo Milli

“I like it when songs are embarrassing,” says Bo Milli. “And I know every single embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.” The 23-year-old Norwegian musician has spent the past two years documenting her experience coming of age during a global pandemic. There were a lot of self-reflective moments, sure, but the subject matter moves beyond trying to process the inability to escape her own busy mind. “The climate crisis comes into everything,” she says. “I try not to let it, but it’s the backdrop to everything I write. It makes everything very trivial, which shapes my music but also my attitude.” The result? Brutally honest indie pop songs that perfectly articulate the struggles of an entire generation.

Bo Milli (a deconstruction of her birth name, Emilie Østebø) grew up in the suburbs of Karmøy, an island off the west coast of Norway. Her parents raised her on a healthy diet of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against The Machine and Kate Bush, and she was playing guitar by the age of eight. “With small places, you don’t really expect there to be much of a scene, but we had one,” she remembers. “There was a lot of metal around and lots of local indie bands to look up to.” At 13, fuelled by a new obsession with Paramore and Nirvana, the self-proclaimed “noisy, impatient theatre child” started performing her own songs at gigs her older sister organised in a nearby town.

By the time high school came around, Bo Milli had an impressive discography and friends were eager to form a band around her. “I quickly realised it was a lot more fun than playing alone,” she smiles, noting that she then pivoted to electric guitar. There was never a lightbulb moment in which the young artist realised that a career in music was something she ought to pursue. Rather, it was always a natural part of her self-expression. “It just never stopped being the most fun thing,” she explains. “I’ve always felt like music was within my grasp, and everybody’s grasp for that matter. It’s not so much something to aspire to, because I could always do the fun part. So I just kept at it and soon met people who liked what I was doing.”

One such person was the Norwegian producer Odd Martin – best known for his collaborations with Aurora and Sigrid – who connected with Bo Milli when she was in her teens. She kept him updated with her projects and he motivated her to become more prolific with her writing. “I wasn’t intentionally writing songs before, things just became songs,” she says. “Then when I started talking with Odd Martin, he gave me a platform to share which made me a lot more intentional with making stuff.” After the pandemic forced her home from music college in early 2020, Bo Milli found herself with the space to experiment. “I feel like everything got paused,” she remembers. “It’s just recently that I started thinking about the fact that time actually passed. I was 19 and now somehow I’m 21... the last one and a half years has felt like a vacuum.”

A vacuum, of course, in which she taught herself how to use Logic, quickly became a more-than-capable producer and eventually relocated to Oslo. It was there that she collaborated with her friend Lasse Lokoy (bassist for Sløtface) on “a mistake”, a playful depiction of relationship woes through what she calls a self-indulgent lens. Part of Lokoy’s album, Badminton, it was released under her own name last summer.

Impressed by what Bo Milli had made during lockdown, Odd Martin set about “working his magic” on it – retaining much of the raw brilliance of her original demos and ultimately teaming up with Bergen’s Made Management. In early 2022, she’ll release “At The Wheel”, a Soccer Mommy-adjacent song about becoming an adult and suddenly finding yourself responsible for not just your own destiny but the future of the planet. “It’s embarrassingly earnest,” she says of the track, in which she questions “who’s at the wheel these days?” from a bed of idiosyncratic lyrics and melodies. “It’s about how the small things feel big, and how you try to relate to the big things but the everyday stuff takes up so much real estate. There are these flashes of ‘oh fuck!’ but then you’re like... ‘wait, where’re my keys?’” The feeling of powerlessness though, is all-too relatable.

A number of yet-unreleased songs explore these themes further. The project – nodding at times to Phoebe Bridgers, others to nostalgic mid-00s teen anthems – sees her lament procrastination, admit to being on the verge of tears for days at a time and recount thinking she might die on the 10-hour bus ride home. Far from bleak, she makes complicated subjects sound like the soundtrack of your next favourite coming-of-age movie.

With a predisposition to self-criticise and a talent for turning that into art, Bo Milli is an essential new voice in music. Through her diaristic lyrics, the super smart environmentalist writes hook after hook as she navigates her inner conflict. And indeed, in putting her own life into words, she has unknowingly narrated our collective existential angst. “Writing music is an emotional outlet, but it’s also a puzzle,” she says, reflecting on her craft. “Sentences come to me and I try to make the pieces fit together. And if just for a moment my music is a good thing in someone’s life, then I will take any opportunity to play it.”

Visit Bo Milli's official website