For Queenstown singer-songwriter Miki Brown, the relationship between the mountains and music will be ever intertwined.
After leaving Wakatipu High School and then completing a course at Auckland’s Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand, Brown says she was lacking direction in life.
The 26-year-old subsequently decided to become a trekking guide, chasing summer walking jobs in beauty spots across NZ, Australia and the United States.
“Each time I’ve gone overseas to work out what I wanted to be doing with my life, I would come back to music,” Brown tells Mountain Scene.
It was on these long treks surrounded by untouched nature she would pen poetry — which would later become song lyrics backed by her acoustic guitar — inspired by the rocks, trees and sounds she’d notice along the way.
The Hollyford track in Fiordland’s a place where the hills are seemingly alive with nature’s music and where she started creating Rimu, a song off her new EP.
“It was a beautiful, sunny day and I recorded native birds singing together on my iPhone, and then I used that recording in the track.”
Combining her two passions has proved a rewarding combination for the singer, who decided to take a leap of faith and take up music as a full-time profession last May.
Her beautiful voice and dreamy guitar chords are often heard during regular gigs at bars and cafes in Queenstown.
And it’s only fitting her first EP, released at an intimate show at the Sherwood on January 23, is called Amongst Mountains.
Her musical influences come from jazz masters, such as Nora Jones, along with groovy sounds of R’n’B and hip-hop.
Behind the lyrics on the six-track EP are tales of personal experiences of travel and unconditional love.
“The songs aren’t necessarily about mountains, but they’ve always been a place where I can hide and reflect on thoughts.”
Releasing an EP was on the now Wanaka-based musician’s list of 30 things she wanted to achieve before turning 30, as was visiting a friend and his family in India.
Brown says she’s in shock and disbelief at releasing the EP, proving the best view comes after the hardest climb.
“There have been so many challenges and insecurities, but I’ve had so much support.”
She’s hoping to pass that support on to the next generation of musicians trying to carve out their career in what can be a tough industry.
Brown’s started by inviting Wakatipu High School student Hannah White to play some originals before Brown hit the stage for the EP launch.
The pair met at a local singer-songwriter night and “Hannah just blew me away”.
“And then when they told me she was 15, I just thought ‘wow’.”
- MIRANDA COOK