No one listens to Garrett Miller’s music without believing and hoping. The star was born in Salem, Oregon, and he admits he always had a creative interest even from childhood. As an adult he’s written and performed many songs, he has created a renowned radio show and he has set his sights on even bigger things, which I have no doubt he will accomplish.
In 2013 Garrett recorded his first EP, “Eyes Wide” featuring the holiday classic, “Guess What Its Christmastime.” He released the follow up full-length album, “Blond Jesus” in 2015 with radio friendly hits including, “Gay Wedding,” “Sweat & Testify,” “Witch Sisters Halloween,” and the title track – which have been #1 hits on the indie music charts worldwide.
Garrett is currently acting in indie films and TV projects including “OPEN” “Old Dogs New Tricks”, “Unfallen”, “Ugly Sweater Party”, and “Child of the 70’s” among other releases.
Highlight Hollywood sat down this week with the talented rising star and it was a breath of fresh air.
Q – What inspired you to write and perform “Unlike You?” And how can people request their local stations to play it?
I wrote “Unlike You” after a big breakup in my life a couple years ago. A lot of songs are about how the other person did you wrong, and what they did to make your life miserable. I wrote this when I looked in the mirror at who I was in the relationship – and frankly I didn’t like who I saw looking back. My partner loved me unconditionally with rose colored glasses, but when I stared into my reflection, I saw who I really was and what kind of person I was at the time. It wasn’t pretty. As painful as it was, it was best to end our relationship while we still were able to respect and appreciate one other. At the end of the day, it’s about making a different choice and knowing tomorrow will be better than today.
Unlike You has gone crazy on internet radio stations – which kinda surprised me because I didn’t think a big break-up ballad would stir this emotion in people. To hear it on your local stations – just call up or Tweet your favorites and ask them to add it to their playlists. I’ll make sure they get it for you! Let’s take it to #1 on Billboard!
Q – How did you learn that you were named HOTTEST NEW ARTIST for 2016 by the HNA Network? And tell us about other honors you recently received?
This caught me completely off guard! Last fall, I released a lyric video for “Witch Sisters Halloween” and everybody went nuts over it. Soon, the HNA Network added it to their playlist and it debuted at #1 and stayed there for 4 weeks! I mean, when was the last time we had a popular song about Halloween? That was followed by “Sweat & Testify” (featuring Debra Wilson and Kelly Fitzgerald on the chorus), and “Gay Wedding.” Each of the songs seemed to resonate with listeners and kept topping the HNA charts for weeks at a time. In July they contacted me to let me know I’d received the award for 2016. I actually had a few tears roll down my cheek – I was really emotional over it. This path as an indie recording artist is “interesting” and having people appreciate, support and value what you’re doing validates everything I’m working on.
My album “Blond Jesus” won the “Best Rock-Electronica Album” in January from the Akademia Music Awards. I also picked up a “Best Music Video” for my song, “Guess What Its Christmastime.” In August I was nominated for both “Pop Artist of the Year” and “Pop Song of the Year: Blond Jesus” with the IMEA Awards which are announced in October. I’m so honored to be nominated in these categories and with the fan votes counting, hopefully I’ll be up on that stage accepting both!
Q – Did you write/perform “Gay Wedding” as a gift to a married couple finally enjoying “equal rights?” or did you feel motivated to write it for a more personal event in your own life?
I am so in love with the song “Gay Wedding.” I was working on my album and wanted to write something fun and catchy as a lead single. I was listening to the radio one night and White Wedding by Billy Idol comes on the radio. This was at the same time Marriage Equality was gaining national momentum with states passing it quickly. While the song was playing, I said to myself, “Somebody needs to write a kick-ass song like this for our community!” I let it go. About an hour later the light bulb went off, “Um, that somebody is YOU! Write the song now!”
I didn’t want to do a parody song or cover of someone else’s work. But the song just kept screaming to me – “Make this happen!”
So, I rewrote the lyrics and went into the studio the next day with my producer, Brian Pothier, and told him we had to record this for the album. Everything about the song happened quickly. From writing the lyrics, to Brian’s music, when the song was done I knew this was special. I submitted this to Billy’s publisher who quickly approved a mechanical license, and this became the lead single for the album. When it’s right and meant to be – it happens. That’s what happened here.
It’s a fun spin on a legendary classic song we all know and love. And the lyrics are written for our community to celebrate our right to marry the person we love. Rock on with your bad self at your own Gay Wedding! And thank you, Billy Idol, for creating such a great original to know and love!
Q – “Blonde Jesus” is so emotional and so beautifully done, what has been the personal reactions from fans of your music? It is very acclaimed by the critics, and I concur with everything they say wonderful about it. And we’re dying to hear what Scott Baio of all people had to do with it?
Blond Jesus was a nickname given to me at one of Scott & Rene Baio’s legendary Christmas party’s by some beautiful ladies I had met throughout the night who couldn’t remember my name. My hair was getting longer and I had the facial hair – so it was either Barry Gibb or Blond Jesus. With the holiday approaching, guess which one stuck? When I got in my Camaro to head home, the first song that came on the radio was the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” – I laughed really hard because, well, the irony of the Barry Gibb/Blond Jesus nickname and their song hitting at the same time. I knew I wanted to write something fun as a disco-inspired tribute to one of the best groups in pop music history. That’s Blond Jesus!
I also wrote this knowing the title of the song, and ultimately the album, would stir controversy simply from that. People who haven’t heard the song and only look at the title are quick to pass judgement. “Who does he think he is? He think’s he’s Jesus! That’s horrible!” Yet, the lyrics of the song tell a different story, with a fun disco beat. It’s about God giving me a message of helping people, serving others and loving everyone we meet. Its written more as a spectacle of the different groups who throw hate around and call it God’s word. I’m never sure where people get that idea from – so I sing about being a child of God and asking the question, “What kind of Jesus are you?” Do you want to be someone who spews hate and anger and vile? Blech! Or are you someone who cares for other people, loves to help and wants the best for our world? The choice is yours to make! Even my sister, who’s a conservative was like, “Um… what are you doing?” And when she heard the song told me, “Oh, it’s fun… it’s not what you’d think.” But you gotta listen to the song to find out!
Q – Did marriage equality delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court give you motivation to help share more songs and sentiments of love, and have you seen your music, especially “Gay Wedding” touch people’s lives since you released it? Do share!
I hear from fans all the time about their experiences when listening to “Gay Wedding.” It always thrills me. Since it’s release, several couples wrote me saying they played this at their wedding reception – along with other favorites like YMCA, The Electric Slide and The Macarana. How much better can you get than to be included in a couple’s celebration with “Gay Wedding” blasting on the dance floor?!
As an LGBT artist, all of my music is written from my experiences and perspective in fun stories. Bouffants and Beehives is about a young drag queen named Beverly Smith who lives in West Hollywood. She’s new to town and now works at a small local club. Beverly’s got a big dream she’s chasing, and the song shares her journey of hard work, preparation and, ultimately going after her dream to win the big prize. It’s my version of Copacabana, except it’s nothing like that.
Another song, “So Long Mr Nice Guy” is about being in a relationship and making the decision to make the big plunge “with golden wedding rings” or to get outta town before it’s too late. This was especially fun to write and record – I’d love to turn this into a new music video.
With this album, I wanted to do a little bit of everything, so there’s even a country inspired tune, “Numbers Game” which is cute, short and counts to the 10 stages of being in love – the excitement of first meeting, then the various stages of being in a relationship, and ultimately being happy with your partner.
Q – Where can people find you and your music?
www.GarrettMiller.com When you buy the music directly from my website, I’ll actually get the money! I love when people buy from iTunes, Amazon, etc… but that is a long process, which also takes 30-40% of the sale and it’s always a mystery if I’ll see the money in this lifetime. Please purchase it directly from me and I’m forever grateful to you! Same with other indie artists you know and love – if you see them at a show, but their cd – it probably pays for their gas to the event so they can perform for you, helps with rent and then lets them work on new ways to showcase their creativity. Whenever possible, please support your favorite indie artists directly. We appreciate your support more than you may ever know!
Q – Do you perform very much in Los Angeles?
I am currently working on a showcase and am excited to bring it to clubs here in the LA area in the near future. I’m making sure the set is tight, everything is just right and that I’ll do the music justice when I have the opportunity to see everybody live.
Q – What are your goals for short-term, mid-term and long-term with your career?
Tommy, 5 years ago if you told me I’d be living out my dreams writing songs I love, singing them, doing music videos and receiving awards – I’d thought you’d lost your mind. Doing what I’m doing now is absolutely a dream come true and I’m grateful everyday for the overwhelming support people are giving me to continue.
Today I’m focusing on a new album of material and, like with any project, it’s all about having money to make it happen. I’m enjoying the creative process of writing new stories that will turn into fun songs, but I need the money to do record. This goes back to supporting your favorite indie artists. When people complain about spending .99 for a download, yet spend $5 several times a week on a bad cup of coffee – it’s a challenge. The mindset of “I want your music for free” cripples the indie artist who doesn’t have a major label with major bucks behind them to support and promote it. Each time someone buys my album, it helps me create the next new song, new album, or new video. Apart from my time writing the lyrics, everything else has a cost associated with bringing these songs to life.
In the future, I’d love to collaborate on a hit with Justin Timberlake or George Michael, or even do a mash-up duet with Billy Idol at the Grammy’s of “Gay Wedding.” Creating fun music is what I love to do and I’m excited for so much more that’s coming up.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: GarrettMiller.com
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