Pique: So you're a hometown girl, born and raised in Whistler, right? What's the best part about calling this ski town home?
Ali Milner: Yes ma'am! Well, raised in Whistler, British Columbia, although I was born in Toronto. We basically moved to our vacation home when I was five! There is definitely a certain pride I have from being from Whistler. It's like a bragging right being able to say you were raised in such a magical place. Always something to do here, and I love that.
Pique: Ski or snowboard, and what are you riding this season?
A.M.: I ski! And I'm on Rossi Scratches... Same as last year.
Pique: How were you introduced to music?
A.M.: Mom and Dad have always had endless types of music in the CD player while I was growing up, so that's always been a part of my life. I was really introduced to music, however, when I auditioned for the local Show Choir run by Sadie Culliford. I was nine, and had worked out this whole song and dance routine to Disney's "Everybody Wants to be a Cat." Little did I know, the other girls were singing "Happy Birthday" and "O' Canada." I loved it from the beginning... Loved performing.
Pique: How do you describe your overall sound?
A.M.: With the songs I've written most recently, it's a very pop/jazz feel; although it's tough to label it at all, because my new tunes feel pretty unique.
Pique: When you aren't on stage, where can people find you just hanging out?
A.M.: Well, I'm often on my couch! I love, love, love to watch movies, although I do spend time in the village at Moguls. Love to people watch, and that's a prime place.
Pique: Where do you find the inspiration for your music?
A.M.: Other artists inspire me so much. When someone has written a song or played a piece that really gets to me, I find that so inspiring. When I was in music school for the summer, the other students there really moved me. Being around such young, incredible musicians really pushed me to be better and work harder. I think it's incredible when someone can give themselves completely to their creativity and just live it.
Pique: Recently, I understand you've been splitting your time between Vancouver and Whistler, pursuing a full-time career in music. Can you tell me about some of your most recent projects?
A.M.: Most recently, I've been writing new songs! I spend lots of time in Vancouver writing with different people, and it's been amazing. I have a whole pile of new tunes that I am just so excited for and proud of, and I'll be going into the studio to record within the next couple weeks.
Pique: You wrote and recorded your first CD when you were just 14, and now, you're working on a second. How is it different?
A.M.: For some reason, I feel more passionate and involved with everything the second time around. I'm more of a musician and so I'm more involved with creating the chord progressions than I was before. I've experienced more, so I feel connected with these new songs. I just have never felt so excited and passionate about my songs as I do now.
Pique: You also released a Christmas single. How was that received?
A.M.: Incredibly well! It was a song that we wrote one week, got in the studio the next, and released it the next. It's so cool, it was accepted to 63 radio stations across Canada, and reached number 23 on the radio charts! I can't believe a Christmas song did that, but I'm not complaining. I'm in love with that song.
Pique: Now, you're back doing a biweekly gig at the Fifty-Two 80 Bistro at the Four Seasons. Are you glad to be back performing in Whistler?
A.M.: But of course! I'm not much of a practicer, so being able to be back performing regularly is not only good for staying in "shape" I guess you'd say, but it's good for my sanity, too. I love to play for people. Plus, playing regularly in Whistler is great for my friends who want to come see me play. They don't have to journey down to Vancouver or anything.
Pique: Hit shuffle on your iPod - what are the first three songs you come across?
A.M.: Momma's Boy by Chromeo
Steal Away by Sam Cooke
You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me by the Genie from Aladdin!!
Pique: What's your favourite song to perform?
A.M.: It definitely depends on the evening, but I love to perform the new songs I've been writing. Another favorite is If I Can Dream, originally by Elvis.
Pique: What's your favourite venue in town, and why?
A.M.: Honestly, I love to play at the Four Seasons! It's a small venue and generally I get a small crowd who genuinely listens to me and responds to what I'm playing. That's the best. With such a small place, I can get to know the folks who are listening to me.
Pique: What's been the most memorable performance of your career?
A.M.: Most definitely when I went to China. I played in a stadium for 60,000 people! There were pelicans in a moat surrounding the stage, pyro, fireworks; it was absolute madness. That one definitely sticks out.
Pique: What musician (alive or dead) would you like to jam with?
A.M.: Sam Cooke for sure! And Ray Charles, definitely. For current guys? Chris Martin from Coldplay (love his lyrics), and Brandon Flowers from the Killers (love his lyrics, too)... I'd love to figure out how their minds work.
Pique: Do you have any upcoming performances or projects on the horizon?
A.M.: Well, I'll be recording within the next couple weeks! So that's definitely the biggest thing coming up and I cannot wait! I am just so excited.
Pique: Anything else you'd like to add?
A.M.: I guess I'd love if it people kept their ears to the ground for my new tunes, which will be ready soon... I'd love it if folks could let me know what they think! Also, my friend set up an Ali Milner music page on Facebook! It would be marvelous if people could join and help spread the Ali gospel