Studio Clips: Meet Ted and Alice Miller

Ted and Alice Miller are singer/songwriters from Northeast Nebraska, they write songs and create music about the life they live. They enjoy finding connection with the people they’ve met and the countryside that surrounds them, as It all blends together to create their Folk/Americana soundscape.

Creative Prompt

Sometimes, just the very idea of creative writing stops us dead in our tracks.  We wrestle with where to start and how to find something to write about that feels relatable to others. Just the thought of the whole thing seems pretty daunting…like how do you write a whole song??? Don’t think about it too hard! That’s part of the problem, thinking your way right out of creativity. We find creativity happens in the grey areas. The space in-between the black and white. There’s no wrong or right way to write a song, and that’s what makes each artist so unique! Here’s what we’ve been doing lately to create some fun around writing, and we encourage you to try your hand at it too!

First things first, get out of your head. Take a moment to just sit with yourself and clear your mind. Put your feet on the ground, take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. Begin to notice your breath and follow it. Clearing your mind of all the clutter. Notice your breath in your belly and notice how your belly rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale over and over again. Do this for 2-5 min (or however long you like), you can even set a timer if it will help. When you’re finished move on to the next step.

Look around and find an item in your environment. Maybe it’s outside or maybe it’s inside, it doesn’t really matter. Find one that sticks out to you. Once you’ve settled on that item think about what kind of story it would tell if it were able to talk or have human emotions. Contemplate this item…maybe even connect with it a bit.  Is this item old and worn? New and shiny? Is it something that’s often used, and no one thinks about? Start to think of that item as a character in a story. What would it have to say? What kind of emotions does it have to share? How do we humans interact with it? Once you get started you might be surprised how easy the words come out. Let them flow out onto the paper and don’t get hung up on trying to get it perfect right from the start. You have all of the time in the world to go back and rearrange things to get them just the way you want them.

We’ve done this recently with an old potbelly stove that we turned into a firepit. We wrote about it as if he were an “old man” long forgotten. Ted shared this writing idea with a friend, and he wrote a whole song about an old pair of shoes in the closet. We hope you try this for yourself and find some great inspiration all around you! Feel free to share with us or reach out with any questions.

Artist Q&A

1. Describe your normal studio or workplace. What’s normal?

Our studio space is anywhere we feel inspired. We DO have our recording equipment set up in our spare bedroom which is also our living room. We love using whatever space feels right, and often times you’ll find condenser mics running into the kitchen/dining room or other areas of the house so we can capture the “perfect” sound.

2. Describe your makeshift studio or workplace in a time of social distancing or isolation.

Makeshift is a pretty common word on the Miller “Funny Farm”! In our time of social distancing not a whole lot has changed.

3. How has sharing your work with co-creatives or others shifted?

These days we find ourselves being a bit more open to collaborating. Our single “Ohio” for instance, features a fellow artist and friend (James Dean Acoustic). James laid down some pretty fantastic guitar work, and we are really happy with it!
We’ve even been kicking around some ideas for other musical projects in the future that would be collaborations with other artists. Time will tell.

4. What is your favorite non-art oriented activity that inspires you?

Both of us enjoy being in the great outdoors! We love hooking our team of horses up and going for a drive down to the river to enjoy a picnic lunch. Passing the time in the winter pulling tasty fish through the ice. We find so much inspiration from just being outside in nature.

5. How has working in a socially distant environment affected your work?

Most of our audience connection and building comes from our live performances and during this time that’s come to a grinding halt. We know we’re not alone in this and have tried to stay as engaged as we can. We heard a lot of talk about how much new music would come out of this time of social distancing…honestly for us this doesn’t feel very conducive to creativity at all! We do however, feel like the trees, garden, and acreage as a whole have appreciated the extra TLC they’ve seen this summer. Slowly but surely, we’re starting to find inspiration and connection again.

6. What is your favorite go-to snack after long hours working on your artistic practice?

Hands down potato chips and sour cream and onion chip dip!!

7. What are one/two of your favorite books that resonate with you and/or your practice?

Ted typically loves to read books on other artists/musicians. Two of his most recent reads are “I Am Ozzy” by Ozzy Osbourne and Chris Ayres, and “I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like, Mostly True Tall Tales” by Todd Snider.

Alice’s most recent reads are “Neither Wolf nor Dog” by Kent Nerburn and She’s currently reading “Meeting the Shadow, The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature.”

8. Who are one/two of your favorite artists that inspire you?

This is a really hard question to answer, there are just so many influential and inspiring artists. For Ted, on the singer/songwriter front it would totally be John Prine, and as an amazing guitar player/songwriter it’s Bob Mould hands down! Johnny Thunders takes the cake on the punk rock roots of his youth. For Alice it would have to be Patty Griffin and Guster.