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“Liars and Fakes” brings Cape Town teen fame and fortune

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Like most 16-year-olds, Mila Smith has a busy schedule, fitting in hobbies with schoolwork. But unlike most other teens her age, this Herzlia High School Grade 11 pupil also has a chart-topping music single.

Her passion for singing and song writing led her to sign a record deal, make a music video and release her song internationally, and it has now hit number one on 5FM’s Top 10 in South Africa pop chart.

“My Jewish identity is a big part of who I am and how I have grown up. It’s my connection to family, to family traditions, and it informs me culturally,” Smith told the SA Jewish Report shortly after her debut solo single and music video, Liars and Fakes, hit number one on 5FM.

Smith recently signed a record deal with Platoon, a London-based record label. Her song is also being promoted internationally, including in Europe, Australia, and the United States.

“I’ve been musical for as long as I can remember. It became a more serious thing from around the age of 11 when I started a band,” she says. “Song writing came pretty naturally to me – no-one ever taught me how to do it. I play piano by ear, so I come up with a melody and from there, I establish piano chords. Once I have the chords, I compose the lyrics. I did take some piano lessons at school in Grade 3, but I didn’t pursue learning sheet music for very long. I had a singing coach for a few years, and that was extremely helpful – I learnt a lot. Now, I’m working with producers and other songwriters who help me to refine my song writing or give me support to continue creating music.”

Liars and Fakes is her first official single as a solo artist. “I was in a band called Skyscrapers with two boys from my school from the age of 11 to 14. We released an EP, where our single, Just Kids, got lots of radio play and we had a music video for it too,” she says.

Liars and Fakes “was written about someone who used me for superficial gain as opposed to chasing a real, genuine friendship”, she says. She’s “overjoyed” that the single has been on the local pop charts, “where I’ve been for the past four weeks in a row, one of which at number one. I’m currently number two – and have been for two weeks!”

Regarding her record deal, she says, “I consider myself extremely lucky because it was an opportunity that just came to me at the right time. In 2018, my band broke up and just as I wondered how I would be able to pursue music, I was contacted by Platoon, an artist services management and digital music-distribution company. It brought me in as an ‘artist in development’, which means that it provided everything in order for me to create music in studio with the goal of releasing it.”

Making a music video during the pandemic was challenging, Smith says. The video shoot was postponed constantly because of COVID-19 and lockdown. “Eventually, we were able to film it when lockdown regulations lessened, and it was worth the wait. It was an incredible, memorable experience.”

The video was made with the help of production company Butterfly Films. It shows Smith and friends “working at a diner and hating our jobs. Then one day, our mundane work just gets too much, and we escape the diner on our roller skates and cruise through the city. We land up at an abandoned mall where we transform into beautiful outfits and end the music video dancing on the roof of a building in the city.

“It was meaningful because just like we change outfits, our mindsets change too – from being unsatisfied and fake to being content and our true selves. Considering Liars and Fakes has a bit of an 80s sound, the whole music video takes place on roller skates, which was a major highlight!”

Smith aims to pursue a career in music, singing, song writing, and performing. “I would also love to score a movie soundtrack. In the meantime, there will be a remix of Liars and Fakes released on 18 June. In July, a new single and music video will be released. My debut EP release is also in the works, and that will hopefully take place before the end of the year.”

Turning to her style, she says, “I love an array of different looks. I’m drawn to sporty, glam looks and I will say that I love a power suit too! I’m not that into makeup (but on a shoot or music video, with the help of the makeup artist, I love it), and I keep my hair natural. I’m drawn to good quality items that I feel good in and know I’ll use for a long time.”

“Herzlia has been incredibly helpful in my music journey due to its unwavering support and willingness to help me deal with my demanding schedule,” she says. “I was overwhelmed by everyone’s kind words and encouragement. I’m beyond grateful to be part of the Herzlia community.”

Her advice to others who want to follow a similar path is “put yourself out there. We are living at a time where you have the world at your fingertips. Make use of it! Whether that means posting a video on Facebook or Instagram or simply performing for family and friends, it can have a big impact. It’s also important to have faith in yourself and your own ability. You are your own biggest fan!”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ANNE Benjamin

    Jun 9, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Well done Mila!!!so very proud of you!!! Anne Benjamin

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