A modern beatnik who talks like a Parisian turn-of-the-century revolutionary, we sit down with Remi Miles, the pop singer with soul from Brighton.
Remi Miles sounds like he’s from another age as he talks about free expression and poetry. He jumps straight back into the 21st century as he explains he writes tracks about Brighton nightlife and playing in the city. But then, all of a sudden, we’re back again, back to the 60s, the decade Remi looks like he’s just walked out of, suited and booted like the boy of your dreams.
“I Want You”, Remi’s debut single, flickers into black and white clips of 60s siren Edie Sedgwick. His easy-on-the-ear crooning is enough to send you into a sweet sleep but accompanied with the pepped up pop backing, it’s the soundtrack to a summer’s day. Recreate Edie’s day out, get a beautiful car and a partner just as pretty and drive off into the sunset. We talk to Remi himself, about escaping to America, his musical heroes and what inspired his most recent releases.
What made you start writing songs? Was there a moment when you thought, I’m writing this down!:
My love of music and then things just gradually progressed from there to songwriting. However, if I were to elaborate on it a little I reckon I actually started writing poems before lyrics, they’re two totally different disciplines. I would write on a particular feeling or experience without melody and I’d say perhaps without rhyme too. I only started focusing on rhymes when I started putting melodies to my words and somehow developed my writing skills that way. These days I can write a song or come up with melodies without having to really pick up an instrument- sometimes the melodies just come and then the words and sometimes it’s vice versa – words and then melody. Yeah, I think most songwriters all have that moment of “yes! That is the melody, that’s the opening lyric, I’ve got to write this down, I’ve got to record now etc.” It’s almost like a magical moment, it all connects and just flows.
Who are your music heroes?
I’d say Colin Blunstone, Marvin Gaye, Jim Morrison, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan. I’m particularly drawn to artists of such not only because I think they’ve all got qualities that I embody in my artistry (even though you can never really tell unless you really listen) but because they all have their own distinctive voices, for example; Colin Blunstone for his coolly soulful voice, Marvin Gaye for his sensuality, Jim Morrison for his velvety but dangerous crooning voice, Nina Simone for her sensitivity and honesty and Bob Dylan for that rawness and pureness of voice. These are the types of artists I’m attracted to, both classic and contemporary.
How would you describe your music?
Love. Beauty. Romance. Freedom. These are the topics or feelings or emotions that nourish the soul in my opinion and they are mostly topics that I’m familiar with it, hence why it’s what I embody. I also think the way I dress is also intertwined with my sound, I believe in reform, rebellion and freedom, not being bound by a particular stereotype or by what people expect. I do what I do because I love it and my music, my image, these are all things to me of symbol of my individuality and a representation of my belief in personal freedom.
Who are your biggest influences or inspirations?
Anyone that embodies the spirit of freedom of expression, the ones that are totally who they really are – the mad ones.
Grew up in the USA, born in the UK – between the two, where do you want to end up?
I love it in the UK and I loved it in the USA. Both are two unique experiences that have helped shaped who I am today. In the UK I would argue that I feel a kind of freedom of expression having developed my craft here and living in and around the Brighton area. Of course, as with anything it has taken a while to find myself but when I did and I tuned into what I’m about and what I was trying to express, everything suddenly made sense and I became one with who I am and not by what people think I am or should be – it was what I want to be. Concerning the USA, it taught me some things: there’s a world out there, DREAM BIG, BE FEARLESS. Always do your best, you never know just what might happen.
What is your favourite thing about performing live?
I’ve always felt strongly about playing live shows and when I do I think it’s a great way of connecting with people, all that energy…it’s like a kind of thrilling release. I also like the performance side of it, the slightly theatrical element of it, moving your body to the words, to the melodies, feeling every guitar twang, drum break/solo, every bass trill and then project that to the audience in front of you in an almost erotic and unapologetic way.
When did your interest in music begin? Are you from a musical family?
At a young age through listening to radio, buying records, reading autobiographies of my heroes, going to the cinema and watching a lot television. Strangely, nothing musical in my family, I think I just somehow developed a passion for music, it made me feel good and I knew it was what I wanted to do.
What will you be doing in 5 years?
I think the best way to know what I’ll be doing in 5 years is to create it.
What was the inspiration for Under Light Symphonies EP?
The Brighton nightlife and the curious adventures within – it often feels like an escape in Brighton, you create your own reality, a place where everybody knows your name and crawling with some of the most interesting minds you’ll ever meet. It has been a well of inspiration and has served me as a kind of muse.
“I Want You” was written in 15 minutes, do you work hard or play hard?
Indeed it was, the lyrics just flowed through. I was arriving in Brighton after a sunny afternoon and the sun was going down and I instantly felt a sense of nostalgia for those long summer nights going out in the city and having fun – the different faces and the interesting experiences of summer days. And yes, I try to work hard when I can and I love to play but generally I don’t really stress my self out about it, I just always do the best I can and then see what happens really.
Remi Miles plays Standon Calling 31st July – 2nd August.