Instrumental Insight • Will Miller

Photo by Rene Marban

Photo by Rene Marban

Age: 25 • Neighborhood: Logan Square • Follow: Twitter // SoundCloud

On Monday of this week, Chicago native Will Miller left to tour Europe for the first time in his life. Sure, he played a show in Manchester a while back, but this will be his first time on the road in Europe, for three weeks, playing shows from London to Oslo. 

For those unfamiliar, Miller is the trumpet played and multi-instrumentalist of country soul outfit Whitney. As they prepare to release their debut album once the weather warms up a bit, they will be touring around Europe, then later throughout the States alongside Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

As a result of the tour and the overall musical hustle, we felt it right to include Will Miller in our weekly column Instrumental Insight, where we provide a proper spotlight on producers and instrumentalists.

While he's in the band Whitney, Miller has a significant history and portfolio of outside collaborations within Chicago and beyond. From appearing on the opening song of Chance's Acid Rap to providing horns for Lil' Wayne, Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, ProbCause, A Billion Young, Rockie Fresh, Saba, and so many others, Miller has made quite the name for himself in the last couple of years. Some additional artists he's worked with that I didn't initially include: Twin Peaks, Eryn Allen Kane, Via Rosa, Odd Couple, Netherfriends, Smoko Ono, and Sima Cunningham. I mean, damn. 

Yes, you could say that Will Miller is a hard worker. Most notably, perhaps, was his involvement in the soul revival group The O'My's. They toured the country with ZZ Ward and released a handful of albums before Miller decided to take up Whitney full time. Given their lead single “No Woman”, released through Secretly Canadian, this seems like a promising decision. 

While Miller travels around, returning to Chicago briefly before SXSW, we felt it necessary to highlight one of our favorite musicians in the city. 

Collaborations aside, Miller has also crafted a handful of his own original compositions. Last month, he released a three song project recorded at Chicago's intimate venue Constellation. Pitched as free jazz, post fusion, and space jazz, the live EP features Lane Beckstrom (of Marrow) on bass and Peter Manheim on drums. The live recording hones in on Miller's horn skills and shows his depth of influence, ranging from hip-hop to jazz to soul and everything in between. How fitting, then, when it's mentioned that all three members of this live jazz rendition have assisted Eryn Allen Kane with her instrumentation. 

Before wrapping up this edition, as I feel myself rambling about all of these outstanding collaborations, it's worth noting how Miller has taken his hand at music production, crafting instrumentals for Via Rosa, as well as a solo instrumental that came equipped with a chase scene music video. All of this is very excited, as Miller remains one of the more expansive and prolific artists in Chicago, acting almost entirely behind the scenes. Be sure to check out Whitney when they came to your city, and in the meantime, listen to all of the available music from Chicago's own Will Miller. If you need more than the five songs in our 'Essential Listens' playlist, be sure to check out his 25 song 'Horn Arrangements' playlist.