Interview: Xoë Miles
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Growing up, my mom always had music playing around the house and in the car, anywhere from Taylor Swift to Foo Fighters concert movies, so I was really always surrounded by music! Ever since I was very young (preschool and elementary), I loved putting on “concerts” for my family. I'd act like I had a mic and would sing and dance. I loved doing elementary school plays, and I'd often get the lead singing parts. I'd come home from school and sit at our piano that was handed down from our MaMa and I'd play music. My Mom asked "how do you know how to play these songs!?" I'd tell her we were practicing them in school, for our play. She excitedly put me in piano lessons, but that really wasn't for me. I got really bored because they wouldn’t let me play the songs that I wanted to play…so I got frustrated. My Mom noticed I wouldn't sit at the piano after school anymore. So, she pulled me out of piano lessons, because she saw it was making me not want to play at all. As much as she encouraged me to play at home, I just didn't want to do it. BUT, the second I saw the Hannah Montana premiere on TV I was like “oh my god, that’s what I want to do!” So I started making up little songs about princesses and stuffed animals and basically thought I was the coolest person ever. Once I got to middle school, all of my friends would get me to sing in front of the whole class, and I literally have no idea what even prompted this, but I guess it was a good thing because it got me used to singing in front of people. Eventually, one of my friends told me about a local songwriting camp, where you got to write, record, and perform your own original song, all in one week. I ended up going and, ever since then, I’ve been writing, recording, and playing live music gigs! At the camp, I saw others playing guitars, so I talked my parents into buying me one, and I taught myself how to play it (I'm self taught on all my instruments). I’m currently in the process of rebranding to Xoë Miles (a combination of letters from my actual first name and how I sign off on things online- xo). The new brand allows me to show that I can do so much more than just perform acoustic shows. Don't get me wrong, being able to perform is lots of fun, but I'm also now producing and engineering my own music. I’ve always wanted to get into the EDM music scene, and I’m so excited to finally start having some movement when it comes to that! I’m so excited for y’all to see all of the amazing things coming up.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I honestly just like to relax by myself at home and watch YouTube (or play Animal Crossing), but I do love going to karaoke with my close friends! It’s still being creative, just in a different way.
How long has music been your career?
Ever since I went to the songwriting camp when I was 12, so almost 9 and a half years!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m from a small town called Montgomery, Texas. We had one stop light when we first moved here…it’s definitely a country town. One time not too long ago, I was going through the Starbucks drive through, and this guy pulls up behind me on his HORSE… I always tell people that I’m from a place where people ride their horses through the Starbucks drive through. It’s so funny to me. Anyways, music!!! I really have always had a strong sense of self and who I am and who I want to be, when it comes to my music. Because I live in a Texas country town, I have had plenty of people around where I’m from try to get me to sing country music as my main genre. I think it’s because my southern accent sometimes comes out on certain songs and words, depending on the vibe. I do play a couple of country songs at gigs, but I play them on ukulele, just to make it my own. But, I've always been good about sticking to my guns and knowing who I am as an artist, an alt pop/edm artist.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Best is High School Nation Tour! I had so much fun! I got to meet and play in front of students who were around my age, so they related to my music I played, both originals and covers. I got to meet the headliners and other artists performing. Everyone was so nice and so welcoming. The HSN Tour lead me to my Hollister/Do Something Anti-Bullying Tour. These were both such a great experience that I'll never forget.
As for the worst shows, I don’t know. I really don’t think of any of my shows as the worst shows. I have had a couple of bookings where there was supposed to be a built in crowd, but no one showed up. Once, I had my duo partner, Andrew Smythe, with me. It was a wine house with a really great stage. So, we took advantage of the time and played some, mostly practiced some. Then we had fun and started on dad jokes. Once, I was at a vineyard where there was a crowd, but it thinned out really early. The room had these really neat ceiling fans and amazing acoustics. So, I made a little video of the fans, and “thanked my biggest fans for sticking around" (I shared that video more than once.). Then I decided to sing Disney songs. The acoustics were really great for that type of music. So, I don’t know. I just try to make the best out of every situation that presents itself.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
One of my favorite venues to perform in was the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood. It was an awesome experience! There are many festivals I’d love to play. Off the top of my head, Coachella would be awesome! But, I’d say pretty much any show that has Billie Eilish in the lineup. I’d probably hyperventilate and pass out.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Me, Billie Eilish, Terror Jr., Alison Wonderland. That’s the ultimate dream.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Just go for it and go all in! You won’t regret it. Oh, and YouTube is your friend. That's how I learned to play guitar.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
To keep going, and not listen to any of the negative things that people have to say that try to get in the way of you and your dreams. The negativity can be discouraging. Don't let it get in your head.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Probably my song “Social Cues”! Right after my 21st birthday, I was actually diagnosed, by a professional, as being on the autistic spectrum, and it really did explain pretty much my whole entire life! "Social Cues" is about how bad I am at social cues. Bet you couldn’t guess thAt one.
But yeah, I’m so bad at reading between the lines when it comes to people hinting at something without directly word-for-word saying what they mean. It’s honestly kind of funny, because sometimes my Mom has been around during an entire conversation (interviews and just conversing at gigs), and I'll go through the whole conversation without realizing that someone was meaning something (ex: extending an invitation), and then my mom will have to tell me after the fact. Talk about a FACE PALM.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
When I’m playing my guitar at gigs, I love playing Folsom Prison Blues (country song, I know, lol) because I know how to do the little solo part with my pinky finger while still playing the main chords. It’s so much fun! I haven’t done enough shows singing to tracks yet to really have a favorite song to sing, but I really loved performing my new single “In My Head” at SXSW. It was so cool to see how everyone reacted to it. I vibe off of the crowd's vibe!
For the most requested, probably "Delirious" for an original. For a cover, it'd be a Billie Eilish song, usually Ocean Eyes. Fun fact, "Ocean Eyes" was the first song I ever recorded my vocals to. It was when I first started learning to produce. I have a cover of it on my YouTube.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
It really just depends! Sometimes I’ll have a lyric come to me at like 3 in the morning ,when I’m half asleep, sometimes it’s in the shower, and then other times I can sit and write a whole song in one 30 minute sitting. Sometimes I start with making the beat for a song in Logic, sometimes I just write it in my head, and if I want to go back to when I first started out writing music, I'd get my guitar out and start playing and see what happens.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I love songs that people can really connect with on a personal level. A lot of my songs are about dealing with anxiety, people who are kind of sucky, and just a lot of things that I think there need to be more songs about.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Not really! Collaborating (luckily) comes fairly easy for me! Well, for songwriting, that is. That’s how I started out. It’s what I did for about 3 years straight, before I really was confident in my own material that I wrote by myself. So I guess it’s just comfortable at this point.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I want to continue to produce and release music. At the moment, I'm excited to be releasing my debut single under my rebrand. “In My Head”, is coming out on April 8th!!! You can presave if at hyperurl.co/inmyheadxo be sure to follow me on Instagram @xoemiles for all of the latest updates!
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