Emile Millar began to get nervous as he watched "Road Trip," a Season 3 episode of the NBC program Parenthood. Millar's "Honey I'll Try," a song from his album Neighbors, was scheduled to make an appearance, and as the show's Braverman family travelled across the country and experienced shenanigans, the songwriter became convinced that the program would become another disappointment to add to his collection.
"When I watched the episode with my song, I was concerned," he told Music Times. "I thought it was going to be another thing that didn't work out."
But then, sweet providence: Acoustic strumming and Millar's gentle voice flowed from the television as the credits began to roll.
Hearing one's music coupled with a television program, one viewed by an average 6.57 million viewers during its third season at that, sounds like an ideal situation for an indie performer such as Millar, but it wasn't his first time at the rodeo. His lyrics have graced series such as One Tree Hill and Sunshine Cleaners, perhaps culminating with the appearance of his track "Black Dirt" as Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow sip champagne during The Avengers.
He doesn't take it for granted however, despite the frequency at which his work finds guest spots. Millar follows Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes on Parenthood Vol. 2, which dropped earlier this month, and Cee Lo Green and Lyle Lovett make appearances as well. He aspires to being a staple in music, and not just a rising staple for soundtracks.
"Absolutely," he said when asked if he wanted the same renown as his album-mates. "I've been doing this a long time. I'm used to being disappointed...I'm lucky if one of 20 things on my plate works out."
Finding success on soundtracks comes down to two things, by Millar's reckoning. First, write from the heart. Songs that listeners can feel appeal to television producers. Second, work with producers who believe in your music...and who know the right people to pass it along to.
Both worked out for Millar in the Parenthood case.
"The [Parenthood] producers have great taste," he said, perhaps reflecting a little bias. "It gives me a sense of validation to hear my song on the credits of a show like that. It's also something my mom is proud of."
Although "Honey I'll Try" seems to summarize Zeek Braverman patching up a long-patchy relationship with his mother at the end of "Road Trip," Millar wrote the song from a vastly different perspective than the Parenthood patriarch. The songwriter has never settled down nor had any children, and the song in question reflects on the relationship that he claims came closest. "Honey" packs plenty of emotion and a dose of regret he admits, but he doesn't want listeners to cry for him.
"My friends and I live in a great community (near Austin, TX)," he said, perking up. "We give music lessons to kids, and we jokingly refer to them as 'our kids.'"
Millar doesn't have any qualms with calling himself a "soft rocker," nor does he hide that his mushiest songs tend to find the most eager takers. He doesn't have a preference for where they end up either, whether it be touching television (Parenthood) or explosive blockbusters (The Avengers).
Millar's new self-titled EP will be released November 5, and he invites any producer's consideration.