Musicians follow different creative processes and find inspiration in different things. Some of Taylor Swift‘s biggest hits, for example, were written when she was feeling anxious and experiencing emotional conflicts. Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys likes to write songs in the morning, the part of the day when he feels most vulnerable and, therefore, more creative. Jack White of White Stripes prefers working under strict deadlines, forcing creative juices to flow until something good comes out.
For up-and-coming rock/pop band Milou Sky, inspiration can come anytime and anywhere. “We don’t have a set formula for writing songs, it just sort of happens,” said Ryan Beckett, the band’s lead vocalist, guitarist, and chief songwriter. “Inspiration can come listening to music or simply having a good or bad day, a lyric that you like, really anything can strike an idea.” Unlike White, Milou Sky’s creative process is less restrictive, and all of the members share the role of writing songs. “We’re always writing, and the result is a competitive balance between everyone in the band,” Beckett shared.
The band’s primary sources of inspiration are the artists the individual members listened to while growing up in their hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania. Beckett, and his stepbrother Zach Ninfo, the band’s drummer, bonded over 60s classic rock bands, particularly The Beatles. Liam Meadowcroft, the band’s other singer, and rhythm guitarist, looks up to Nirvana, Oasis, and Arctic Monkeys. His brother Nolan, who plays bass for the group, lists Kings of Leon, U2, and XXXTENTACION as his favorites. “We’re inspired by the music we like, and we feed off of what we hear to create our own songs and sound,” Beckett said.
The four also take inspiration from their passions outside of music. Beckett loves to watch movies and is moved by the performances of Leonardo DiCaprio. He is also a fan of football star Tom Brady and looks up to the quarterback’s mental drive and work ethic. He also loves the show South Park, which he credits for his odd sense of humor. Like Beckett, Liam is also into sports and cheers for all Philadelphia sports teams. He also played baseball when he was young.
During his spare time, Nolan likes to play video games such as Battlefield Three, Call of Duty Modern Warfare Three, and Rainbow Six Siege. When he gets tired of playing, he picks up a book on world history. Nolan also loves to go out and get active by playing golf and baseball. Like Beckett, he is also into football, and his favorite team is the Denver Broncos.
With a background in communications media, Ninfo enjoys creating videos and has won in a few competitions at the state and national levels. He loves to watch the reality show Bar Rescue, and just like Nolan, he also enjoys playing video games. He also loves to eat and try out different restaurants together with his bandmates.
For the songs in their debut EP Compromise that was released last January, the band used the pains and joys of everyday life as inspiration. “The EP showcases the collection of styles that we mashed together to create our sound. These songs are meaningful to us because we can share what we feel with our audience,” Beckett said. The first single of the EP and title track is about the typical frustrations guys feel when dealing with women. A compromise was produced by two-time Grammy Award winner Robert Cutarella who has worked with legends such as Eric Clapton, The Police, and Keith Richards.
Milou Sky also aspires to serve as an inspiration to fans and fellow musicians. Even before the release of Compromise, the band already enjoys a cult following back in Reading, where they used to play in local venues, TV shows, and festivals. Through social media, they were able to expand their fanbase. Currently, their Instagram account has more than 100,000 followers. It’s a significant achievement considering the competitive nature of the social media landscape where millions of artists worldwide vie for the attention of users.
The band knows the secret to succeed in social media, and that is to engage your followers continually. “Social media is definitely the way we communicate with our fans,” Beckett said. “It also gives our fans a chance to message us and comment on our posts, so we know how they feel about us.”
Musicians who double as influencers seem to be the trend of the future, and Milou Sky has wholly embraced the role. Through their social media accounts, the group helps other up-and-coming artists gain exposure by mentioning them on their posts. The gesture is reciprocated with other groups giving them shoutouts as well. Beckett also sees the use of social media as a means for musicians to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think it’s gonna be important to really just use your account to communicate with fans since there are no large gatherings,” he said.
The band is aware of the power of music, the influence it holds on people, and its potential to shed light on social issues. They are open to the possibility of writing more socially conscious songs in the future. “If we have a good idea, we’d definitely try to write a song about it,” Beckett said. The group shares the outrage felt by other musicians on the death of George Floyd and social inequality in general. “We think it’s all horrible that we even have to do this nowadays, bad people kill people all the time, unfortunately, but for someone to be targeted because of the color of their skin is just disgusting,” remarked Beckett.
The band doesn’t overestimate the influence of music, however. “It can spread awareness about (social issues) and unite people to fight for a cause, but at the end of the day, music is just music, and in reality, more people are going to take a song as a song, not a statement,” Beckett said.
Even the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that resulted from it didn’t stop Milou Sky from finding inspiration. They spent most of the time under quarantine writing new songs as they plan to do a follow-up to Compromise later this year.