On Saturday at Midpoint Music Festival, I headed backstage to talk with jazzy, electronic artist B.Miles.
Her 2015 single “Salt” took off on Spotify with over 10 million plays, and an EP released in March capitalized on that success with smooth cuts like “Running” and “Rude”. She tours with a live band, featuring her co-writer Eric Nizgretsky, who also fronts the New York band Loose Buttons.
We talked about the effect Christina Aguilera can have on an opera singer, Spotify’s influence, and the impressive music scenes in Ohio.
The Indie Sound: How did you get started with music?
B.Miles: Music was introduced into my life really early on. My dad is from London and has been a hardcore Rolling Stones/Beatles fan, so that’s what I grew up on. My mom was a classical violinist, so music was very present all the time… It was never “you must do music,” but it was like, “oh it’s kind of weird if you’re not involved in music in this family.” I met Eric freshman year of college. We were one floor away from each other in our dorms and we were in the same program… It was some “get to know you” function the first night that we were there, and we liked each other’s songs that we we played, so we were like “we should write together.” It all stemmed from right there.
TIS: What’s the songwriting process like?
BM: It’s different for every song. Eric will call me and say, “Hey, I have this great melody idea. Come over.” Sometimes I’ll send him, “Hey, I have these lyrics. Let’s try to put something with them.” It’s a different story every time, but we pull the different strong elements out of each other and create a better synthesis together.
Spotify is kind of everything now. That’s our new radio. That’s why there’s such a competition to get onto these playlists, and we were the lucky ones at first to catch on.
TIS: You mentioned that you grew up around The Beatles and the Stones and then Classical music, but what are your biggest influences musically?
BM: Biggest influences vocally would definitely be Amy Winehouse and Christina Aguilera. She’s actually the reason I decided I wanted to do pop music. I used to do classical voice, and I remember the first time I heard her sing. I thought “Oh my god! People can do that with their voices?”
The second that I heard her, I said I wanted to do something cool like that, where you can choose whatever it is you want to do. I remember in high school when I was doing classical choir, I started bringing in different elements of Christina and Amy and my teachers getting really annoyed. Those are the biggest influences singing-wise. Writing-wise, I’d probably say recently we’ve been really influenced by Nick Hakim, Tom Waits… Just pulling from a lot of different elements to make ourselves more interesting.
Eric Nizgretsky: It varies. B.Miles as a project is never confined to one sound, and it’s done on purpose. For me, I don’t want to write songs that confined to such a sound. It’s all over the map for us.
TIS: Do you find yourselves listening to newer stuff and getting influenced?
BM: All the time. I love the Discover Weekly playlist; it’s my favorite. It’s either hit or miss… Sometimes it totally gets you and you’re like, “wow this is the greatest playlist ever,” and then sometimes I’m like, “what is this and how did it get these influences?”
EN: I’m not on the Spotify train, and I get a lot of shit for that. I use Apple Music so I find music not through what the crew is doing, but that makes it fun.
TIS: As an up-and-coming artist, what do you think about streaming and where it’s all going?
EN: That’s the thing that’s kind of crazy … we have a song called “Salt” that took off with over 10 million plays. It took on a life of its own and you never expect that to happen. That song was written in a dorm room, and you never had the expectation…
BM: And we changed it the night before we recorded it!
EN: You never had the expectation that it would reach so many people. It’s a mind blowing concept that it’s reaching so many people, and then because of that we have the opportunity to play stages like this. That concept is crazy. Spotify is kind of everything now. That’s our new radio. That’s why there’s such a competition to get onto these playlists, and we were the lucky ones at first to catch on. It’s pretty insane if you think about it.
BM: We had no idea. I remember I think we had just graduated college and I was back in L.A. and some acquaintance from school sent me a message and was just like, “hey, congrats!” And I said, “on what?” He told me I was on the New Music Friday playlist.
TIS: Is there anybody you’re looking forward to seeing at Midpoint tonight?
BM: I can’t wait to see BadBadNotGood. I can’t wait.
EN: I was really excited to see my new best friends (Moonbeau). I wanna chill with this guy.
TIS: He’s got another band called The Yugos that have been big here for a long time.
EN: They just played Alphaville, which is a room we just played…
BM: Last Thursday.
EN: It’s kind of funny that the scene is so small. We’re hundreds of miles away from each other, but yet we’re all breathing down each other’s necks. We were listening to Noname; she’s great. We’re not sure if she’s gonna do a live band situation or not, so that’s exciting for us. We give cred to artists who play with live bands.
You can listen to B.Miles below and check out out Midpoint coverage here.