Miel de Botton is a singer with a passion; one that she wants to share.
She breathes new life into her beloved French chansons (Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour et al) with sensitive interpretations and innovative arrangements. The honesty and romance of their songs also inspire her own material in both French and English.
Miel grew up in Zurich, a tranquil city, but her background is less so. Miel’s paternal grandmother, a beautiful, erudite woman who risked her life for her political beliefs, was forced to flee her native Egypt, taking her young son with her.
Following these hardships, she died young. Miel’s father was left stateless and penniless, yet he managed to find his way and, with exceptional drive, provide well for his family.
These important figures in Miel’s life inspired her in their passionate search for truth and survival. They also of course lived through the period of the French chansons: the 1930s to the 1950s.
Miel’s parents instilled in her a love of the arts. Music in all its forms filled the house. Her father spoke nine languages, and would wake at five in the morning to read classical French texts, while the family travelled to see exhibitions far from home.
It was through her father that Miel first fell in love with the chansons. He would sing them to her from an early age. “I was in wonder at the beauty and emotion in these songs. They transported me to an era of wild romance; I could feel the intensity of love being expressed but also its tragic inconstancy. It also moved me to see my father, usually so restrained, let go completely. I wanted to do the same, abandon myself to the music…”
After studying in Switzerland and England, Miel moved to Paris. She had always felt the city beckoned her; French was her mother tongue and she was seduced by its culture. She felt strangely at home there. “When I sing my songs, I often see myself skipping down the cobbled streets of Paris, the feeling is one of lightness.”
After qualifying as a clinical psychologist and family therapist, Miel practiced in therapy centres in and around Paris. This career would, perhaps surprisingly, come to influence her relationship with music. “Psychology taught me to connect with people in a deep way, to turn emotion into a positive force of transformation. That is what I aim to do when I sing, to share human emotion and make us all feel connected.”
In the year 2000, Miel relocated to London. Here her passion for singing was at last given an outlet. “Finally this secret wish of mine seemed to be nurtured from all sides. I met wonderful people to help me express it.” The French songs came first, naturally. Then came her own songwriting and eventually concerts, in prestigious venues all over London and abroad, alongside artists from Jessie J to David D’Or.
Miel is currently finishing her album ‘Magnetic’ with producer Andy Wright (Simply Red, Eurythmics, Jeff Beck, Natalie Imbruglia).It is set for release January 2015.