Alt-pop singer Amir Miles embraces and rejects the come up

By Josh Svetz

Uncensored version published on https://wsbufm.com/

Amir Miles believes he’s the next great pop star. This thought doesn’t come from a point of arrogance; he just knows that to survive in the ever-evolving music industry, you must believe you’re up next.

“In the local scene, I’m no Jimmy Wopo or Hardo, but I’m not a no-name,” Miles said. “I’m just confident in my abilities and my team.”

Miles, 22, is just one of many hopeful musicians trying to catch their big break in the business.

The Pittsburgh singer has already hit several milestones. In the past two years, the alternative-pop singer opened for GZA, Oddisee and Migos just to name a few. He also reached over 800,000 plays on Spotify for his song “Bad Habits.” And on June 6th, he’ll finally get to open for a singer that’s much closer to his music scene than a Migos when he warms up the crowd for Kali Uchis at Stage AE.

But to get to the come up, Miles had to make a lot of mistakes.

Born in Chicago and raised by a single mom, Miles moved to Virginia at age 11 where he began to take interest in music, forming a band with his friends in junior high school for simple reasons.

“We thought it’d be sick to play shows and get girls,” Miles said. “That’s what you expect to happen when you’re a kid.”

What came from that experience would act as the building block to his career in music. Miles played bass guitar and eventually transitioned into vocal work. The band itself disbanded after a year, but he continued to play bass and sing on his own. He started by playing covers of songs he knew, gravitating to rock and R&B music. But after not wanting to be a “copycat,” he started to play chords and make his own lyrics, changing his inflections and words depending on what the melody sounded like.

While the building block to his career laid in place, Miles didn’t believe he could make it as a musician. He originally attended Pittsburgh University to learn business and economics. He figured that getting into the world of music marketing or being the band manager would give him a good chance to get involved with the industry.

Fate had other plans.

His freshman year, he won a rap battle contest along with his resident assistant, Tory Hains, securing an opportunity to open for Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. He then started to make songs like “On a Dime” and the musician bug bit him fully.

“People were just f****** with it,” Miles said. “And I enjoyed making it. I was set—I’m going to be a musician.”

As he continued to grow as an artist, his grades slipped. He felt misery every time he went to class. School just didn’t feel like the right path. So, he dropped out.

Returning home to Virginia, he struggled in the job market. After receiving two consecutive pink slips, Miles found a home at Zara, a retail company that he described as a European H&M. There, he met his current producer Nxfce (pronounced ‘no face’) and nothing would ever be the same.

Nxfce and Miles talked music regularly on the job, but Nxfce had reservations about working with Miles until he showed him his music. The first studio session, Miles said they didn’t get anywhere. The second studio session, they made “Bad Habits,” Miles’ most popular song to date and a turning point in his career.

Soon after, he returned to Pittsburgh because of the youthfulness of the city and already having a fan base intact.

Originally, he mirrored acts like the Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Miguel. Now, with Nxfce’s more dance-infused and rhythmic beats, he began to cultivate his own sound.

Trying to describe Miles’ sound would give even the greatest music critic problems.

At times, he brings an energy and vigor reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Not to say he matches the king of pop, but when listening to the opening of “Neon//Love,” it’s hard to not hear the inflection of late ‘80s MJ. On “Fade” he sounds like a more exuberant and upbeat Chet Faker. On “Bad Habits,” he inflects the soul of a Sampha, with the vivacious catchiness of “Can’t Feel My Face” Weeknd. No matter what track you play though, he keeps an atmospheric and sexy vibe intact, reminiscent of Ginuwine and Usher.

All these comparisons have one thing in common: it’s music that makes people move. It just so happens that Miles’ biggest concern when he makes music is if it makes people move or not. He used Drake as an example.

“People hear ‘God’s Plan’ and they’re willing to give themselves up (to the song),” Miles said. “They sing, dance, act a fool, because they know the song. They trust the song. They know where it’s going.”

While he may not be Drake, Miles’ recognizes that the buzz he’s obtained from projects like Faceless has made people more comfortable with his music. In turn, he’s starting to get the action he desires from the crowd — dancing.

“That’s what I get most excited about before I go on stage,” Miles said. “Watching people bop, jump, get rowdy. That’s what I love about making music.”

Of course, he’d be the first to tell you that there’s a love/hate relationship with the live show, especially as an opening act.

“Sometimes it sucks,” Miles said. “Yeah, you get to open for these great acts and be like, ‘Yo, I’m a part of the show, I’m a part of the experience.’ But, you’re usually performing for people that don’t know who you are, don’t know what you’re about, don’t care what you’re about and don’t want to learn what you’re about in 30 minutes. They just want to see the main act.”

Miles said he believes this mindset has spread due to the internet.

“I feel like in the ‘90s and ‘00s, people were more artistically curious at live shows because that’s how you found new music,” Miles said. “But now you find music on Spotify, so if you go to a show and haven’t heard the opener’s music on Spotify or SoundCloud, you’re less likely to care about their music.”

But Miles’ biggest concern comes from capitalizing during the come up. He knows he has buzz now and reflects on how people are watching him. Before the come up, he could do whatever the hell he wanted. Now, he has labels making decisions about distributing his music, concert venues considering if they should book him and most of all, people waiting for him to fail.

“It’s do or die,” Miles said. “The next singles have to hit, because if not, then there’s stagnation and that’s the kiss of death in the music industry.”

Again, Miles said the internet has changed the time window. The turnover rate due to social media has become so fast that you need to find a way to stay relevant. Otherwise, people forget you exist.

That’s just the double-edged sword of the modern music industry powered by what’s shareable and viral.

Miles obsesses over music. He soundtracks his life with Gus Dapperton and Rex Orange County. He sings when he gets ready to go out. Hell, even as he’s brushing his teeth, he’s working on his craft.

His conversation topics always include music. One minute he’ll talk about the intricacies of Migos, explaining what creates the draw to the triplet flow. Another he’ll dive into the mystery of Frank Ocean and why his aesthetic matches his art.

The unwind period for Miles comes from watching anime and being around people. He has a complex of wanting to be liked but doesn’t work hard to please. Genuinely, he just wants a good energy and for people to enjoy themselves.

In his dingy, lowly-lit apartment Miles plays Madden as he reflects on his career. He’s using the Seahawks, his favorite Madden team. In the time we’ve talked, he’s won one game but lost the other off a two-point conversion against the New England Patriots, of course.

Unlike the Seahawks though, he sees the end zone.

He’s planning to move out to Los Angeles next year to push his music more and work with other artists. He also plans to write for record labels. Going to LA may lead to one of his biggest fears: fame.

“I’m worried about turning into a commodity,” Miles said. “I don’t want to lose myself. I’ve seen enough people crack. One slip up and people pounce. They’re waiting for you to fail.”

He also worries about his relationships if he indeed becomes famous.

“They’re not going to be natural,” Miles said. “They’ll always be skewed, and people have agendas. Like, do they f*** with me for my music, for me? Do they want something? Do they truly just want to connect? That’s always going to be in the back of my mind now.”

Miles still has a way to go before reaching that point, but it still scares him. He’s not in the business for the money or the fame, or even the girls. He just wants the experience few will ever know.

“When I’m on my death bed and I think about where my life went, I’ll be able to say it went everywhere,” Miles said. ”I’m here for the adventure. I want my life to be a f****** movie.”

Check out Miles at Stage AE June 6th when he opens for Kali Uchis. Tickets are available here: https://www1.ticketmaster.com/kali-uchis-pittsburgh-pennsylvania-06-06-2018/event/1600546DDA6EB60E 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Spectrum kicks off anniversary with Trans Week of Remembrance

[Image retrieved from wikipedia.com]

By Olivia Boyd

“Let us unite. We fight for your rights,” chanted students outside of the Quick Center for the Arts on November 13.

As names of those who have died due to transgender violence shone across the side of the Quick Center, Spectrum, St. Bonaventure’s LGBT+ alliance, led those attending the event in a chant to show support for those who have lost their lives this year.

A light rain sprinkled, setting the mood for the presentation with people huddled up, hot chocolate in their hands while president of the Student Government Association (SGA), Haylei John, spoke on the topic.

Continue reading “Spectrum kicks off anniversary with Trans Week of Remembrance”

Bona’s professor reflects on success of debut book

[Images retrieved from donikakelly.com]

By Caitlyn Morral

When Dr. Donika Kelly of St. Bonaventure University’s English department is not teaching, she is traveling and reading her collection of poetry at various locations. The assistant professor recently published her first collection of poems, “Bestiary: Poems,” and has been invited by multiple venues to share her work with others.

“Bestiary: Poems,” was published and released in October of 2016. Since then, it has been named as one of The New York Times Book Review’s “Best Poetry Collections of 2016” and one of Buzzfeed’s “Best Poetry Book of 2016.” The collection has also been noticed by The Root, The Undefeated and Quivering Pen.

While it might be difficult for a collection of poetry to strike upon success, Kelly is happy with the reception that her own poems have received.

Continue reading “Bona’s professor reflects on success of debut book”

Artist discusses inspiration behind new exhibit

[Images courtesy of sbu.edu]

By Kaylyn Foody

Swirling blues and grays cover the silks on display in The Regina A. Quick Center for The Arts. These photos, by Barbara Luisi, are a part of her collection called, “The Spiritual South.”

In this collection, Luisi explores hidden cave churches in southern Italy.

According to Luisi, the collection is not yet complete. Luisi said that she is still working on this collection in her address on Friday, September 15 in the Quick Center.

Continue reading “Artist discusses inspiration behind new exhibit”

Third annual Polar Spray makes a splash

Photos by Chezell Montgomery

@cheyslays_

Members of the St. Bonaventure community wait outside the Sandra A. and William L. Richter Center for the Polar Spray to start.
img_8401
The Allegany Volunteer Fire Department partnered with the university for the event.

Continue reading “Third annual Polar Spray makes a splash”

Bonaventure adjunct’s actions speak louder than words

[Photo courtesy of Sophia Kucharski]

By: M.K. Killen

Angela Reisner may not be on St. Bonaventure University’s campus every day, but her bubbly personality has made an impression on many students.

“Angela is adorable, engaging and passionate,” said Simmi Kalsi, a sophomore biology major. “She’s just such a fun and phenomenal person. She’s super understanding, and she even brings us a bowl of candy every class—and takes requests.”

Reisner teaches courses in American Sign Language (ASL) on Monday and Tuesday nights. Students describe Resiner as energetic, fun and kind-hearted.

Continue reading “Bonaventure adjunct’s actions speak louder than words”

St. Bonaventure gears up for Super Bowl Sunday

[Image retrieved from SportsLogos.net]

By Katie Tercek

As Super Bowl LI approaches, football fans at St. Bonaventure University will be tuning in on Sunday to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, has lead the team to a 14-2 season which puts them ahead of the Falcons, whose quarterback Matt Ryan lead them to a 11-5 season.

Statistics may show that the New England Patriots are a better team, but that does not stop the hopes of Atlanta Falcons fans.

“I’m on the Falcon bandwagon because I am from Buffalo, and we have an integrated hate of the Patriots and Tom Brady,” said Max Weiss a senior and marketing major.

Continue reading “St. Bonaventure gears up for Super Bowl Sunday”

Hip hop team develops Halloween themed show

[Image courtesy of Kathryn McTyre from the SBU Hip Hop Facebook page]

By Kelly Haberstroh

The SBU Hip Hop team collaborated with ASIA and LASO to host a Halloween themed show on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.

Peter Bertoldo, Emily Flynn and Meaghan Tederous came up with the theme and name for the event because they wanted to make each dance representative of a classic Halloween television show or movie.

The three had thrown around a lot of ideas for iconic Halloween films and decided on a select few. They all thought the name, “Halloween Through Your Screen,” would match the concept well and decided to show a trailer for each film depicted prior to the dances.

Continue reading “Hip hop team develops Halloween themed show”