Milan Merlo just wasn’t feeling creative out in Arkansas. A Dallas-girl, born and raised, she decided to move back closer to home, transferring to the University of North Texas, where she found a community.
“I just started meeting like a lot of creatives like photographers, videographers and musicians,” Merlo says. “Literally everything was in this compact, different world.”
When Merlo began working in music PR in Dallas, she gained a different perspective of musicians’ needs and their struggles.
“A lot of them felt like it was really hard to keep going, because they just like didn't feel like they're being seen,” Merlo says. “Or, they felt like they needed to move to you know, New York. It just got to a point where it just made me sad. I don't want all this talent to leave. I grew up in Dallas and didn't even know it. Being in the industry, I was finally able to see it.”
Merlo decided that the best way to make musicians feel seen was to start a production company in Dallas. She named it The Honey.
“The original idea behind [the name] The Honey was, like, the raw, real, good stuff,” Merlo says. “It's supposed to be genuine at its core.”
Her original mission was to create videos for local artists, but over time, Merlo found her attention gravitating more specifically to women who want to band together and build up the music scene in Dallas.
“The Honey started as a place for artists and music lovers to have a space where they were not only celebrated but could also connect with others on a deeper level,” Merlo says. “Through music we laugh and have fun, we cry and feel sad and sometimes, we even heal.”
Seeing her hometown as an up-and-coming music city with amazing talent, Merlo wants The Honey to be a place where North Texas musicians can take their image to a new level.
“We’re a business based on connection through music and emotion, which makes it very personal and very different,” she says. “We create for artists who we feel a connection with, and they create something that reflects them as an artist and the story behind their music.”
As a woman who has navigated the music industry for over five years, Merlo says it is important for her to build a place that gives equal opportunities to women in music.
“We not only make sure to include women, but our team is built of women — from creative direction to video, photography and writing.”
Taking her personal experiences to heart, Merlo began to see her production company as an opportunity to lift women up in a difficult industry still undeniably dominated by men.
“We want to change the dynamic in front of the camera and behind it,” Merlo says. “The Honey is a place where emotions are heard and accepted, concepts are always pushed to the next level, and above all, it’s a genuine space for music in Dallas where real relationships are made.”
The videos The Honey produces are high in quality and are true collaborations with the artists. Merlo says that whether she reaches out to the artist or the artist reaches out to her, the most important part of the collaboration is connection.
“If I feel like I connect with them honestly, I really believe in them and I want to make this for them,” Merlo says. “Like even if it's not a thing that The Honey does, but I want to do, I want them to trust me to make something special.”
While The Honey has leaned heavily on artists from hip-hop and pop, Merlo says that is more coincidental than deliberate.
“We actually have a music video coming out next month with a punk artist named Clancy,” she says. “[Clancy] records here sometimes as a single artist, but we had a band with her who, once upon a time, were a sad pop band called Quiet, Please.”
For now, given the difficulty in coordinating schedules between a production company composed of people who are working other jobs, like Merlo herself, Merlo plans for The Honey to continue releasing videos for artists at least once a month. But in time, who knows?
“What's important to me is just making sure that the music scene in Dallas is heard and seen,” Merlo says. “I want to give them a place that they feel like they can express themselves and are appreciated. The opportunity is right here, like, right in front of them.”
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