Born in Missouri, raised in Michigan, and currently residing in Chi-Town, Evan Mills is everything but your average singer-songwriter and performer. Recently releasing his tender single, "Sissy Boy," Mills brings us into an emotional and genuine concept while singing for timid gay children everywhere.
The half-Filipino, gay, left-handed artist wasn't in for the typical childhood, raised by a single mom, stepdad, his gay father, and father's partner. Being surrounded by love and support gave Evan Mills the drive to let his talents flourish. More recently, Mills is currently a featured ensemble member with the Second City's National Touring Company while also part-taking in side-gigs and gearing up for his music career.
Recently releasing his heartfelt single, "Sissy Boy," Evan Mills introduces us to his stylings through an incredibly endearing performance. We're taken aback by Mills' lyricism, as he depicts such vulnerable, emotional, and wildly relatable themes of growing up gay, feeling alone, and lacking knowledge of the LGBTQIA+ history and culture.
"Sissy Boy" begins with a jazzy intro through warm r&b keys and down-tempo, organic drum patterns. As Evan Mills starts singing to his past self and reminding him of the adventures he will soon encounter, we can feel an incredibly raw and emotional sensation exude through Mills' soothing and broad vocal range. The instrumentation continues on a sublime note and stands side-stage to allow Evan Mills to express his heartfelt story.
He takes us through various scenes of a timid and shy gay boy, watching the boys flirt with the girls in the class, wearing his mother's clothing, and reminding himself it will all be okay. Mills particularly pulls on our heartstrings with lyrics like, "Feel your best when you're alone, the only thing you've ever known."
Refresh yourself with the serene and comforting stylings of Evan Mills and his recent single, "Sissy Boy," now available on all digital streaming platforms for you to savor.
We are more than appreciative of such a tender and meaningful single like "Sissy Boy." Is this your first solo release? Why did you want this song to initiate your music career?
This is my first solo release and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this song represent me as an artist. It’s pretty special since it’s based on my real life. I’ve been openly gay since 2011, but before that, I was completely lost in who I was and what I was comfortable calling myself. For the longest time, I had girlfriends because I thought, well that’s what the “social norm” is telling me. That’s what the O.C. and Legally Blonde are telling me. See, even my references are gay. I grew up where there was hardly any LGBTQIA+ representation (at least that I knew of) or organization for me to reach out to if I ever felt brave enough to do so.
I grew up with a gay dad which is something really unique about my relationship with my divorced parents, on top of being an only child. I didn’t even have a sibling to talk about these things with, let alone my own sexuality, so I never felt comfortable enough to tell even my closest friends. I used to try on my mom’s clothes when she was at night school, and I got called a Sissy Boy countless times by kids at school, strangers, and older adults who I now see were just sad bullies. I wanted this song to be my first single because I wanted to be vulnerable right away with whoever the listener is. I want to tell the person on the other end that it doesn’t matter what others call you, as long as you stay true to yourself. No one's opinion of you matters more than the opinion you have of yourself, so own being whoever you are, cause it took me far too long to do so myself.
Was it difficult for you to reach back into your memories and call on those emotions in order to write your single "Sissy Boy?"
I remember when I first started writing this song. I thought a lot about being a kid in school and remembering that I didn’t want to get caught looking at other boys. I can vividly recall one time when I was sitting in class staring out the classroom door and I saw my crush walk by. It was during class hours, so no one else was out in the hallways. So I asked for the hall pass so I could “go to the bathroom” but ended up just walking up and down the hallways, hoping to run into him. Just hoping we would pass each other for one second, make eye contact, and that was literally it. When I finally did see him, I got so nervous that I pretended to be “too cool” to say hey and didn’t make any eye contact.
I think about that moment a lot and how for most of my life I treated my sexuality this same way. I spent a lot of time ignoring what I really wanted, looking the other way, and thinking I needed to fit a certain mold for society. But who cares what society thinks! I look back at that time and wish I hadn't been so afraid to be who I wanted to be all along. That I probably ended up missing out on a crucial part of growing up as the true, real me, and learning to accept who I really was at a much younger age. I wanted to write this song for myself, sure, but also for others who have or still feel that way. I want them to know that I understand what they’re going through and that I’ve got their back.
Did you write and record the instrumentals within "Sissy Boy" yourself? How did you achieve such a soulful sonic atmosphere?
That beautiful, soulful sonic atmosphere came from the very man behind the keys in the music video, the one, and only John Love. Damn, I love John Love. We met working together on a Second City Touring Company in Chicago, and we’ve clicked since day one. I wrote this song during quarantine, but I knew I needed instrumentals more than I was capable of doing myself. So I reached out to John Love and we met on my back porch, six feet apart, while he brought his piano and I introduced him to Sissy Boy. We sat and I sang, and he played, and we molded something incredibly beautiful together in one afternoon. I knew after that day, we had come up with something both silky and heartfelt and I loved it. It’s rare when you find someone you can work that well with. John completely understood what I was trying to say with this song, and he added the perfect instrumentals to bring it to life.
Should we expect more jazzy and r&b tones within your future music, similar to the sound and style of "Sissy Boy?"
I’d say I’ve got a few songs coming your way with this similar vibe and style, but ultimately, I want to keep people on their toes. I’m gonna put out music that I’m feeling or I’m vibing within the moment and I think that’s what’s going to keep people excited. I’m writing another musical (most recently I wrote Queer Eye: The Musical Parody with the incredible musician Heidi Joosten that ran in Chicago), but I’m also working on a folk (with-a-twist) EP, so I wouldn’t categorize myself into one box just yet. I hope that makes people excited and want to continue listening anyways hah
What has been keeping you inspired to create music?
During the pandemic, I saw myself going two ways. I could watch Netflix and binge shows I’ve already seen and learn how to make bread and adapt to front-facing comedy videos, OR...not that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that first scenario, I just knew it wasn’t going to be for me. I read a lot of autobiographies by successful artists I look up to, and I took advantage of the free time I had, knowing I wouldn’t have a period in my life like this ever again. I never allowed myself to slow down creatively and I surrounded myself with inspiring people and content.
I look around at fellow LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC artists and feel inspired by the art they create. Seeing the Chicago queer art scene flourish through drag, music, film & television has only made me more hungry to create alongside them and inspire others who still feel as if they don’t have a full voice yet. Having “Sissy Boy'' speak to others and allow themselves to feel seen is all I want to do. There is only one you, so why not love you all the way.