Miette Hope mixes jazz, R&B and neo soul into an intoxicating brew

Talented US singer-songwriter Miette Hope has already graduated from Berklee, played with Brian Wilson and made waves in the New York jazz scene – and she’s done it all with an entry-level Epiphone in her hands.

miette hope
Image: Dustin Cohen

When did you first discover the guitar?

“My mum has been playing and singing in bands since before I was born, so there were always instruments in the house. I grew up in a mountain town in the heart of Colorado and was exposed to folk and bluegrass early on. I taught myself some chords and wrote my first song on my parents’ guitar when I was 10.

“There was never a question in my mind about whether or not I wanted to play music. I had other interests of course but my passion for music felt like nothing else I had known. It helped me through hard times as a child and I used songwriting as a form of therapy.”

You were the first-ever Vans Presidential Scholar at Berklee College Of Music…

“When I applied for Berklee, I knew that the only way I could attend would be on scholarship. The year I won was the first time that Vans had collaborated with Berklee to sponsor an incoming student. I wouldn’t have been able to live my dreams if it hadn’t been for their generosity and for that I will forever be grateful.

“I gained so much from getting an education in music. Berklee is such a unique place where you can access so many different types of music from all around the world. The staff and students are incredibly inspiring and pushed me beyond my comfort zone.”

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And while you were at Berklee, you opened for Brian Wilson while playing in the band Aüva…

“That was an incredible experience. It was the 50th reunion tour for Pet Sounds. The Beach Boys were a big inspiration for the music I wrote with Aüva, so it felt like a very full-circle moment to have that opportunity. The show was also our last date on a two-week DIY tour of the East Coast, and so it was very rewarding after sleeping on couches and sitting in a van for hours with five guys!”

Your guitar style is rhythmically very interesting, where did that come from?

“Rhythm is a very important part of my music, I can often hear a drum or bass groove in my head before I start playing the chords. I’m self-taught on guitar and I never really learned how to use a pick, so I think the improper technique actually adds an interesting element to my sound!”

Your guitar choice – a brown Epiphone Dot Studio – is very unassuming for a pro musician…

“It’s the first guitar I ever owned. My step-dad gifted it to me for my 15th birthday – I’ve had it for almost 10 years now. I think more than anything, it is nostalgic for me. I’ve grown up with it both as a musician and person – it’s always been there for me like an old friend. The neck has snapped and been repaired a few times but she still plays really well considering what she’s been through – I think it adds character!”

Your songwriting seems to come from a very raw place…

“I usually feel most inspired to write when I am processing something emotionally. Songwriting helps me to understand how I really feel about my experiences in life and I try to express that in my music as authentically as possible.

“I have a three-song EP coming out called Pendulum that I worked on over the span of three days with a good friend and producer who goes by the alias Ariza. The project is deeply personal to me as it is meant to express the different stages of grief in my experience of losing my father to his addiction. I’m currently working on the visuals for the project and I plan to release all three as a short film this fall.”

In a time when so much music is written and recorded electronically, why is the guitar still important to you?

“The guitar has a sound that just can’t be fabricated. I think it’s really important to keep those organic sounds present in both my recordings and live shows. For me, the guitar feels like an extension of myself when I’m performing and it gives my audience the experience of my songs how I originally wrote them.”

For more on Miette Hope, visit miettehope.com.

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