For Yorkshire artist Bonnie Milnes, her latest project is all about female empowerment.
Milnes has been a mainstay on the York music scene for a few years now, but was mainly in the background as other artists took centre stage. With Bonnie and the Bailers, she’s front and centre in one of the most exciting groups in Northern music. The band have been turning heads in their beloved Yorkshire with their unique combination of influences and Bonnie’s Winehouse-esque vocals. They also recently featured on BBC Introducing.
On the Bailers, Bonnie is ecstatic that the ideas she had for so long are finally being heard: ‘’For years I was playing, but I didn’t write any of the songs, even any of the melody lines. I’ve had all these songs in me for years, so to finally have an amazing band behind me that are able to bring them to life is the best feeling ever.’’
Many of the songs the group perform focus on the central theme of romance, and more specifically being open and proud. Bonnie believes her role puts her in a position to inspire those who aren’t as confident to speak on their experiences: ‘’I think women have always been slut-shamed for having partners and not staying with the same guy. It’s sad that I know so few female musicians, and I just want to inspire women to get on stage and do whatever they want without being slut-shamed.’’
It isn’t just about empowering others though. As someone who has been in the background for so long in her musical career, this project is about self-empowerment as much as anything else, with Bonnie stating: ‘’I’d say it’s a 50/50 split. Nothing makes me happier than when a girl comes up to me after a show to say they thought it was awesome and they wish that they could do it. And I tell them, you can! You literally can!’’
‘’It’s also about me though, and just allowing myself to say what I’m thinking. A lot of people don’t express themselves enough, I’m just lucky I’ve got this medium to do so.’’
Despite the content of the group’s music focusing on such important and serious topics, Bonnie says there’s one main thing that makes their music so enjoyable to listen to and be a part of: ‘’The songs are just really fun! It’s not like pretentious or super technical, I’m just building a lot of confidence in them and we’re really enjoying showing them off.’’
Sometimes when an artist talks about their musical influences, they’ll stick to one genre, most likely the one they consider themselves to be a part of. However, Bonnie isn’t like that, and it shows in the music, whether it be the influences of R&B to smooth jazz to country, there really is something for everyone when it comes to the group’s infectious sound. The influences for these sounds are equally as varied: ‘’I love old Motown, I absolutely love Lady Gaga, I’m really into the storytelling and songwriting of Bruce Springsteen. I was a huge fan of Amy Winehouse, but I can barely listen nowadays because it just breaks my heart. There’s all sorts of rap and hip-hop too, and that comes across as much as it can in the music, despite me being a girl from York!’’
So, with an exciting project taking shape as well as being a part owner of the recording studio Boom, which seeks to help the budding artists she hopes to inspire with her music, Bonnie Milnes truly has the world at her fingertips. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, Bonnie and the Bailers play their first headline gig on Thursday February 20th at the Crescent Community Venue in York. If you’re in the area, get yourself down there and support an up-and-coming local act!