What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My dad is a musician, so when I was a kid I would go see his gigs on weekends with my mom. My dad is a trumpet player, but I was cosmically drawn to the drums for reasons I’ll never know. I played on pots and pans at home, until I got my first drumset at age 6. Music and surfing were my two favorite activities as a child, so if I wasn’t a musician I’d be a professional surfer. If not that, then a filmmaker or photographer.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like to think of creativity as a universal 24/7 presence in my life, which frees up a lot of pressure in creating art. Living life outside of your art is a part of making art. My music is influenced by many things that aren’t musical, and that includes my hobbies. I love basketball, I love surfing, I love taking my dog to agility class, I love root beer, I love artists like Marcel Duchamp, Mark Rothko and Bruce Nauman, and I love my family and friends.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m born and raised in New York City. I grew up in Greenwich Village and I currently live in Ridgewood Queens. NYC has defined who I am and how I operate in many ways, the first being that there’s a lot going on at the same time. I think that has definitely affected my music, in terms of layering and counterpoint. Most of all, though, it’s rhythm - rhythm is the most important part of my music (and music in general, in my opinion) - and NYC is a deeply rhythmic city.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
This is a recent one - my first show after COVID lockdown, in September 2021, after vaccines had rolled out and everything… and I planned this 9-piece band show at Our Wicked Lady, with an afrobeat jam at the end. It was the first time I had played a lot of my new music in the way that I dreamt of, with a big band backing me up - and after 1.5 years of no performing because of COVID. It was life-affirming and special - I’ll never forget that night!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I’ve played some big places throughout my career, but I feel the most at home in a small NYC venue. C’mon Everybody always gets shoutout from me! They take good care of their artists, staff and patrons. And as far as places I want to play that I haven’t already… I’m gonna go as big as possible and go with Madison Square Garden! I grew up in NYC and it’s always been my dream.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Fela Kuti and Prince, on two stages, going song for song. I wouldn’t be on the lineup, I’d be in the crowd watching lol.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Community is everything. Value the people you play music with and as long as you inspire and support each other, stick together. I had a band called EMEFE that was integral to my growth as an artist. Being a solo artist is definitely my calling, but I cherished those years where we were all in the hustle together. I’ve had to work to find my community as a solo artist since the “band” element isn’t built in. Having a band is a magical thing!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
My song “Don’t Fight Anymore” pulls at my heart more than any of the others. It is deeply personal to me. It makes me think about my life every single time - my childhood, my relationships, my past, present and future. I am really happy with how that song turned out, and that it is the finale of my album.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“Popular” is definitely a people pleaser! I love playing “Let Me Cry” though - I could just vibe on that groove for hours and I’d be happy.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
It is a varied process for me. Sometimes I arrive at the studio and create something from start to finish. Other times, a song bops around my head for a long time, and I document it through voice memos, notebooks and demos until I get to the studio to flesh it out. Either way, songwriting is how I communicate with the world, for better or for worse, so I am not sure what inspires it - it just happens for me, and it’s always been that way.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My album is an exploration of the pitfalls and crevices of masculinity. It is a subject that I think a lot about, so naturally I wrote songs about it - and through the process I found my own nonbinaryness. I hope people listening feel a kinship with the album’s struggle to break out of boxes and confront themselves.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I’m a one-person band, so the band gets along pretty well! Every once in a while Producer Miles will disagree with Musician Miles because Musician Miles wants to keep adding more and more instruments but Producer Miles knows that it’s often better to leave space in the arrangement.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My album, Good Man, comes out on March 4th! I’m having an album release weekend in NYC, and a proper NYC venue show in April. Keep an eye out for more tour announcements, and eventually more music, too!