Soulquest LAB #7 - An interview with Miles Singleton

For this 7th episode of The Soulquest Lab, we had a conversation with our very good friend Miles Singleton. He shared an intimate look into his music and philosophy. Progressive, soothing and thought-provoking musician and producer, Miles gave us the opportunity to learn more about his art.

Hey man, thank you so much for doing this ! We’ve been wanting to interview you for a while now.

Thank you for having me. It’s an honor. I’ve been following Soulquest since y’all started. Really love what you are doing and the way your platform is curated. Big props

Thanks man ! Let’s start at the very beginning. When did you start making music and what made you want to start recording your own tracks? I know that you played the guitar before starting production but are you self taught or did you ever take any music lessons ?

I actually took Guitar lessons for many years but my other attributes are self thought. To be precise, I started making music after my parents gifted me my first acoustic Guitar when I was 8 years old. Even tho I was playing the Guitar more or less seriously from an early age on and took lessons for many years,  I hadn’t built an interest for recording techniques or other instruments until I met my friend Gelando (Sleepdealer) in 2015 through a mutual friend. Gelando was already a well known beatmaker in the Lo-Fi beat scene at the time and introduced me to LogicProX, chopping samples and creating sounds. I was hooked ever since and pretty much taught myself how to use it. 

I’ve had the chance to share studios and watch you work on multiple occasions. Can you tell us a little about your creative process, workflow and maybe even tools? Do you start with an intention or just go with the flow ?

I hope to create honest music by maintaining a solely natural and positive approach, going with the flow and not having a plan laid out. It is very important to me not to force myself. If I’m not inspired I just leave it alone for the most part, until i’m inspired again. I never use a lot of gear. I have a basic set up of 1 or 2 midi controllers, a synthesizer, mic, guitar and amp and a lot of plug ins running through Logic Pro X or Ableton.

How would you describe your music to people who might not be familiar with it ? Is there a specific track or project you’d recommend ?

That’s a very hard question. I try to not categorize myself. I could be doing RnB or Hip Hop productions one day and Synth Pop tracks the next day. My music tends to be total arbitrariness for the most part. I work with a lot of space and time in my music and hope to leave things open for interpretation in doing so. All the pieces I create do have a signature feeling tho.... I believe.... which makes them coherent to one another. I usually just call it VIBE music when people ask.

It is very important to me to give my music a certain depth through storytelling. My project ‘INVERT’ released in 2020 is the perfect example for that.

Speaking of INVERT, this project, and your music in general, often feature other artists such as Dylan.Negativ, Asé, Danitsa or Naim. You also release instrumental music. Can you tell us what the differences are in terms of approaching the tracks ? Do you tell the artists what your idea for the song is or do you give them the freedom and space to come up with their own interpretation?

Most of the artists I collaborate with are also very close friends outside of music. For example Dylan is actually my creative director, mentor and best friend at the same time. In this regard, the process is not much different than mentioned earlier, when I’m featuring someone. Most of those features developed very naturally, simply by kicking it at the studio, showing each other music and someone being inspired to hop on a track. I’m really into mixing and arranging. So most of the time I will have the artist record their part, take the files home, and then start mixing and arranging the piece (with the consent of the artist of course). I like to have full creative control so that it remains tangible for me. The end result will often sound very different from what it initially was. 

As mentioned in the introduction, you’re based in Zürich, Switzerland. Does your city and environment inspire you or influence your work ?

It’s hard to be inspired by an environment you don’t really relate with. Most of my drive and inspiration happen within myself. Questions I ask myself, the curiosity to better get to know myself on many levels inspires me to create. Throughout the years of making music I've realized how dependent I am on this reevaluation of self. It helps me create a narrative around music and keeps me meditative.

I’m sure Zurich influences my work in many different ways I can’t explain. I’d be misleading if I called it inspiration.

In September of 2020 you released a project called ’September’. In my opinion, this project indicates a desire to explores new ‘sonic directions’ that you might had not previously experimented with. Can you tell us a little about this EP and what the inspirations are?

I started recording September in Los Angeles in 2019 while finishing up my Debut Album INVERT and during which I was also participating on a big project for a well known Swiss artist. During that time I was kind of drained from the process of finishing up INVERT and very eager to develop new sounds and recording techniques. Los Angeles definitely influenced and inspired me heavy. It opened up my musical senses in a way, took me out of my comfort zone and motivated me to include a more variable approach towards music and has profoundly formed the foundation for the creative direction of September.

The visual aspect of your art also seems to play an important part. ‘Late breakfast’ and ’Sunshine’ are two examples of amazing tracks who’s videos fit and complement the music perfectly. Were you always attracted to the idea of creating and co-directing visuals for your music or did it just happen naturally?

Initially I wasn’t that attracted to the visual part of creating. It went from a very small and natural interest; collaborating with graphic artists and DP’s to becoming some what of a necessity for me at this point. Things start to get very interesting when those two worlds merge. The visual and musical vision must be coherent and equally present to tell the full story. 

Can you name a few artists that you’d love to work with or produce for ?

Wow so many. I can name a few from the top of my head tho…. I would love to work with Ego Ella May, Demae, Brandon Banks, The Internet, Silk Rhodes and so many more…

I’ve often complimented you on your ability to make very emotional and beautiful tracks with very minimal elements: Beautiful chords, soothing synth sounds, simple yet well made and crisp drums. Not everybody’s able to pull this off the way you do. What would you attribute this to? Is this a conscious choice or is it just the way your work ?

First of all thank you. As mentioned earlier I try to maintain a very natural approach. I don’t feel comfortable imitating a sound or a specific style, it makes me feel distant towards my own music. I always try to do more by doing less, I let the music breath and speak for itself. I guess it’s a conscious choice. Forcing something never worked for me. I think the key lies in the most inconspicuous things.

We’ve had the honor of listening to some of your unreleased music and we really are impressed with your evolution as an artist. Can you tell our reader about what you’ve been working on ? What’s next for you ?

I’ve been very temperate with my creative output since I released September in 2020 But behind the scenes i’ve been working on more music than ever. Planing, plotting, creating. 2020 was a very fruitful  and creative year for me. I’ve amassed a carefully curated catalogue of music, visuals and other amazing things for y’all and happy to share them in 2021.

Thank you so much for your time and for answering out questions man ! We can’t wait to witness where your talent takes you.

Thank you for having me brother. Always my pleasure. Blessings

Follow and support Miles on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify and Instagram.

Photos by Reni Stee and interview by Karim Chibani.

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