Emily Milling, a comedic artist hailing from Toronto, cites her Casio keyboard and Jim Carrey as the gateway to her career in music and comedy. She’s come a long way from composing songs about Fred Flintstone. With her debut comedy music album, Take Your Life More Seriously, Emily endeavors to bring as much silliness into your life as possible because, let’s face it, the world is a dumpster fire, and we could all use some escapism.
Recently, I had the privilege of chatting with Emily about what inspired her to write Take Your Life More Seriously, the creative process, her comedic influences and more.
This interview is condensed for clarity.
Melody McCune: We at GGA love a good origin story. What’s your personal origin story, and how did you get into comedy?
Emily Milling: Ever since I was a kid, I had a little Casio keyboard and was constantly making up songs. They were usually about Fred Flintstone. Probably because that’s all I was consuming at that age. I watched Dumb and Dumber when I was young, and Jim Carrey changed my life. Ever since then, I was looking for every opportunity to do theater, drama or comedy.
Then, I got involved with The Second City Training Center in Toronto a couple of years ago. I took their writing class, improv class and finished their conservatory program. Through all that, I was working on writing my album. That, in a very, very tight nutshell, is where it all started.
MM: Let’s talk about Take Your Life More Seriously. What inspired you to write it?
EM: Honestly, being miserable at day jobs.
MM: I get that.
EM: I was working at this place that was so soul-sucking that every day I would get in my car and blast my music as loud as I could and rage sing. I thought to myself when I was writing this, like, “What if I could write this for me back when I was feeling horrible and infuse it with so much silliness that by the end of the drive home, I would be in a good mood?”
A lot of the inspiration came from that. How can I change a person’s energy when something crummy is going on and help them find the motivation to feel better? The other piece is that I’m also a filmmaker with my fiancé.
We were presenting a film in New York a couple of years ago. I was super nervous about getting up on stage and talking about it. It was a small audience, but it was nerve-wracking. I blasted “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island in the hotel room for four hours. It changed my energy. It made me feel so much better and gave me confidence. It’s twofold. I think things are funny, and I like making people laugh.
MM: What can listeners expect from your album?
EM: A lot of fart jokes. A lot of lamenting about plants maybe being alive or dead. We don’t know. The challenge of being an adult. There’s a great song about being a neglected winter coat at the back of the closet. Every year it’s hopeful it will be chosen, but alas, no. It’s a sad power ballad about being a neglected winter coat.
MM: Describe Take Your Life More Seriously using three words.
EM: Goofy. Energetic. Wild.
MM: Are there any comedians who influenced your work?
MM: I love Pat Benatar.
EM: She’s one of my favorites. It’s an amalgam of those things. Comedian-wise, it’s Weird Al and The Lonely Island that explode to the forefront of my brain.
MM: Can you tease any stories or jokes you tell on your album?
EM: I’ve got a song called “Grown Up,” and it’s about me leaving home for the first time and being like, “I’m so independent; I can do everything.” I am in charge of my life, but every five minutes, I demand my mother do something for me because I am not prepared for the real world. A lot of that is based on true events. For some reason, I thought she was buying me an entire thing of toilet paper and was upset that it wasn’t for me; it was for her home.
I had her sing on that too. I forced her to sing on it. I like to force my family to be involved in my projects because it’s fun. That one is close to my heart, and so far, it’s a family-and-friends favorite.
MM: What was the creative process like for you in bringing this album to life?
EM: A lot of glaring at my synthesizer and wondering why it wasn’t making the sounds I was expecting it to make. Any creative project is challenging. I devised this strategy where I’d be like, “I’m going to time travel five days into the future. I’ll ask myself how we came up with this part of this song.”
Then, I would wait and listen for it, and it worked. I am a time-traveling magician and music person. That was part of the process. Once I discovered that trick, it made it a lot easier.
MM: What else is on the horizon for you, career-wise, and where can folks listen to Take Your Life More Seriously?
EM: Right now, I’m thinking about what I should do next, which is probably another creative project. I have no idea because I’m totally burnt out.
MM: It’s a state of being right now.
EM: It’s like these projects take so much out of you. Well, one day, I want to write a musical. That’s on the distant horizon, but that’s a project I’ve always had in my heart. Just trying to focus on finding funny things in daily life. Taking a step back and seeing how I can reorganize my day-to-day routine to make space for new projects to come out.
Where can people find me? They can go to emilymilling.com/take-your-life-more-seriously or listen on any streaming service.
MM: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Emily!
EM: Thank you, Melody!