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Viva Phx Q & A: Tobie Milford

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Tobie Milford is a Phoenix musician of the chamber-pop, avant-pop persuasion. He combines his vocals with looped violin parts as a solo act, and has recently enlisted an assortment of string players from local ensembles Tetra Quartet, Downtown Chamber Series and Flexible Tiger. Get in the loop and see Milford perform at midnight on March 7 at Hotel San Carlos.

Read The Spec‘s Q & A with Tobie Milford…

Very first concert you attended and a memory from it.
Barenaked Ladies on New Year’s Eve. I remember the concert t-shirts which had a picture of the year ticker switching menacingly from 1999 to 2000, and underneath they said “Are you prepared?”. Because, you know…Y2K. And yes, yes we were.

If you could have any musician (dead or alive) as a mentor, who would it be?
Sufjan Stevens. Incredible vision and work ethic. Supposedly he recorded his Michigan album by himself using one microphone. I’m a big admirer.

Very first concert you played and a memory from it.
I’ve been playing in classical concerts since I was a little kid. I can’t remember my first, but I do remember some time around fourth grade we were playing on this outdoor stage and a bunch of dogs had somehow gotten loose and ran up on stage. They were jumping up on us, but we just kept playing.

Artist you would most like to collaborate with or have produce your music?
Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond for both. Since I’m starting to use small ensembles like she has used for the past few years, I think she’d be a great person to have on the production side. Locally, I’d love to join forces somehow with Dylan Pratt, Wooden Indian, Dry River Yacht Club, and There is Danger someday. Yes, all at the same time.

Not to mention I’ve already begun collaborating with some super high-caliber musicians for my ensemble – Kirk Johnson has his own non-profit music outreach organization called S.O.U.N.D.S., Megyn Neff is in North Brother Island, Tina Estes is a dynamic local R&B/world music songwriter, and Mark Michaud is the most talented drummer/person I think I have ever met.

Personal truth that fans would be surprised to know about you.
I’m a sixth grade math and science teacher.

How do you spend a typical day when you’re not touring or busy recording?
More like: what do I do when I’m not busy grading and lesson planning? Spending time with my beautiful wife Lara. And sometimes, making music!

One artist or album you could never get tired of listening to?
I was already a fan, but once I saw James Blake live it really hit me over the head how many things he’s bringing together at once. His discography so far is already pretty impressive to me, so I’ve been enjoying all of that fairly consistently.

Earliest music-related memory you have?
Getting a violin for Christmas when I was three. I think I held it backwards the first time I picked it up. Needed a couple of lessons, I guess.

Nicest thing a fan has ever said, or given, to you?
A few weeks ago, I got to open for Mutual Benefit, and it was the first show ever with the new ensemble I’ve put together. Once they got on stage, they would not shut up about how much they enjoyed our set…they said we were the best act they’d seen so far on tour! That was really encouraging.

Interesting fact about your newest release.
The forthcoming release will be a proper studio album bringing together what I’ve been doing live for the past year, namely: a string quartet with percussion and keys. At some point in the near future I’ll be having a fundraising show to cover the costs of recording.

Xperience you will never forget.
Performing my material during the Downtown Chamber Series event at the MIM last summer with members of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.

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