Music

Interview: Floyd Miles Talks Journey Through Music And New Releases

Floyd Miles is a singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. He allows the language of music to guide his creative process, and he is intentional about the messages he conveys within his lyrics.

Music serves as a source of entertainment and even comfort, but for Floyd Miles it’s an unfathomable feeling within him. The Los Angeles based singer and songwriter draws inspiration from simply existing. He allows the language of music to guide his creative process, and he’s intentional about the messages he conveys within his lyrics, speaking on themes like love, divinity, self-awareness, and the Black experience.

Floyd Miles grew up in a music loving household, introducing him to a variety of musical genres at an early age, which influenced the type of music that he creates. His diverse background allows him to cross into genres that may come as a surprise to some and he states, “I mean, I just feel like music is universal. Melodies from heaven are a real thing, you know. I draw my melodies from different things so music is just music. We didn’t make genres, we’re just making music, like… who made genres if we want to be technical. It’s all music, that’s how I look at it.”

Give me an introduction to who you are.

My name is Floyd Miles. I was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. I only lived there until I was like three or four then we moved to New Haven, Connecticut and lived between New Haven and Hamden, Connecticut. Then, my freshman year of high school I moved to Indiana, so I was out in the Midwest until college.

When I was in Brockton, Massachusetts, my dad worked for a Christian drug program at the time and they started a choir with that program, so I was always surrounded by musicians my whole life, organically. My parents weren’t big singers, of course my mom sang in church and stuff like that, so I was just surrounded by music because my parents loved it. Then I moved to Connecticut and that’s where I started playing the drums in church. That was my first choice of instruments. I was singing, but I was very low-key. I wasn’t heavy on the singing yet, not until my mom actually started getting me into a boy’s choir out there. That’s where I really first started singing, I guess, letting my voice shine.

I started playing drums then we moved to Indiana and my dad was a pastor in Indiana and that’s when I started dabbling in keys, playing the keyboard, and sh*t like that. So, yeah I had a balance of music. It was gospel, but then my parents didn’t really listen to “secular” music, but they listened to Motown, Smokey, Lionel Richie, a lot of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, like Heatwave. I remember my parent’s song was “Always and Forever” by Heatwave. We listened to a lot of old school stuff.

My dad’s from Harlem so he’s just heavy on that Motown. He used to talk to me about how he used to be in the back of— because he lived on 127th and St. Nicholas and he lived right around the corner from the Apollo. He used to tell me how he would wait in the back to see the stars like James Brown when he was a child.

You answered my next question, how did music spark your interest? It seems like you were just surrounded by it, but was there a defining moment where you decided to take music to the next level?

I actually didn’t start thinking about taking it to any type of level until my senior year of high school. I was writing a little poetry here and there, but I didn’t even write my first song or record my first song until my senior year. I just knew I wanted to do some sh*t with music, I just didn’t know how I was going to get there.

After I did it in high school I just did it a couple times and was like, this is what I want to do, I’m going to school for music. They didn’t teach me sh*t there, [laughing] but I was able to experiment on my own and meet homies along the way to teach me sh*t.

You said you grew up with a balance of gospel and more wholesome, like old school—

I wouldn’t say wholesome!

[laughing] Did you ever sneak off and listen to the secular music?

Oh yeah, for sure! When I was in New Haven, I went to a Jamaican charter school, so like… it was already lit for me. I already knew what was going on. I was a whole BET Uncut child, you know [laughing] I knew what was going on. I was already tapped in, so y’all are keeping me away, but you already know. I went to a Jamaican charter school [throws hands in air] we listening to Sean Paul and sh*t, having school lock-ins, it’s lit.

But I guess my defining— I wouldn’t say defining moment, but I noticed when I was younger I would be listening to music and I would push the headphones in and hold them closer so I could hear it more, and I would explain it to my brother and sister, and they wouldn’t get it. You know, the bass just hits you different [places hand over heart], and the words are just like I’m reading the books, reading the lyrics and wanting to know what they’re saying. I don’t know, it’s just… I remember having different moments. I think I was listening to this Michael Jackson song, damn I wish I remembered it right now, it’s the one where he’s like “maybe tomorrow you’ll change your mind girl” and I was listening to that in the back of my mom’s van like damn, I feel this sh*t. Like, I feel music. It’s not like I’m just listening, la-la-la-la like I don’t know what’s going on. I’m feeling something in my heart, I don’t know it’s kind of hard to explain.

I completely understand that. With me not even being a singer or anything like that you know, music resonates. When it hits you, it hits you. So, I definitely understand what you’re saying and we all experience music differently, which I think is a really cool thing. You’re surrounded by it and you’re wanting to know more about it. You’re really in-tune with it, immersing yourself in it. I want to backtrack, you said that Sean Paul was someone you listened to at the Jamaican charter school you attended, but who were some of the other artists that you listened to?

Growing up when I was younger a lot of Ne-Yo. A lot of Ne-Yo, he was hard. You know old school, well not “old school,” but my old school r&b, Jay Holiday and even like early The Dream.

Wait! How old are you?

I’m 28.

Okay, you’re up there! I’m 26, I’m right behind you. So yeah, our old school. I feel it! How would you describe your sound?

I would describe my sound as genuine. I tell people like, I usually don’t even know what the song is about until I’m already halfway there because I like to let my subconscious speak and feel what the beat is saying, but also what I need to get out. It’s therapy at the end of the day. Like, of course we have to make it sound good, but at the end of the day it’s real sh*t going on. So, I guess I would say genuine, honest, aggressive, but still gentle and sensual type-sh*t.

Yeah, yeah! Okay. You have a nice sound. It’s warm, too if that makes sense. Warm and inviting. What inspires the content of your lyrics?

Queens. Definitely Queens, what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in my life. It could be anything. I draw inspiration from everything. Like I said, I let my subconscious speak and then whatever I can take from parts of the world or whatever I’m thinking or what I’m reading at the time—

So literally anything.

Literally anything.

You said whenever you’re creating a song you really don’t know what it’s about until like halfway. Can you go a little more in depth about that? What is your process like when you’re in the creation stage?

My process varies. It just depends on the situation I’m in. I could be on the side of the road and hear something, and then write it down. Sometimes I may just hear a beat and it gives me an idea and then other times I may just get a beat and have something in my phone that feels like that and I’m able to elaborate more on that feeling. But, I don’t know, somehow I just tap into what that feeling is, what the point of the song is, what I want to say to people, and what I want them to get from the song.

It sounds to me like you’re inspired by pretty much everything. Just life, just living, and then you let your feeling or how the music is making you feel in that moment drive whatever it’s going to be about.

For sure, that’s definitely what it is.

Whenever you’re creating a project, like an EP or a full-length album, do you already have an idea or concept in mind that you’re trying to adhere to or are you still very free-flowing?

Nah, I don’t really have an idea in mind. I just really create and then see where it’s leading me. I just dropped my first real album, Save Yourself. I’ve put projects together and not released them, but my first real project that I curated and put together was Save Yourself. If I were to reference that, I didn’t really have a plan for that. Like, I didn’t even name that album until one of the songs I wrote on there, which is “Save Yourself” in 2015 and I was just going through a bunch of my old songs and it still resonated, so I was like, that’s the album… Save Yourself. It just felt right. I put everything to a close and packaged everything perfectly.

It’s nice how the energy or the vibe is literally speaking to you and it makes sense to you. I think that’s really cool. Do you have a favorite part of your music making process?

It’s definitely the writing. The writing is just where I shine the most because I try to take my time with my lyrics. I may have 75% of a song done in one session and then not touch it for two months until I’m happy with it. Got to let it be what it is and trust the process.

You write all of your music? Do you ever have co-writers?

I write all my music, but I’ve had homies that I’ve worked with. I think there’s one song that I have out called “Goodbye” that I wrote with one of my homies. His name is Da Goat he lives out in New York in the Bronx. And then there’s another song that I wrote, the video is out but I took the song down, it’s called “Waste No Time”. I wrote it with my homie D. Lyles, Darious Lyles, he was actually just on The Voice so he’s going up right now, but those are the only two songs that I’ve had writers on.

I commend songwriters because as a listener, if there’s stellar writing it allows you to experience the song. There are a lot of songs that I just listen to, but I love to sit down and truly resonate with a body of work.

I’m open to writers, but I’ve noticed with me and my career that I’d rather write it myself because the music, like you said, the sh*t leads me wherever it’s going and it’s hard to find— I’d rather just say it in my own words.

And I guess that goes back to it being super authentic and honest from your perspective, too, so that adds another element for the listener. Walk me through your musical journey. You already touched on your earlier experiences and how you got started, but once you started to pursue music what has that journey been like for you up until now?

Well, I guess my musical journey began when I moved to New York. I moved to the Bronx with my cousin, r.i.p, I moved out there and we were out there running it up in the Bronx. Then, he introduced me to a producer named Buda Da Future, Buda and Grandz— let me get that right— there in New York. They work with a lot of people. My cousin introduced me to Buda and then he introduced me to Dave East. I was recording with this guy in Queens, his name is Tha Jerm. Dave and I used to record at his spot, but we hadn’t met yet. Buda was just talking about him and he happened to pull— this might’ve been 2013 or 2014, something like that. I was recording a song and Dave came in like yo that sh*t is hot, I need to get on that sh*t. I’m like, n***a I don’t know who you are, but let’s get it, n***a! [laughing] And then Buda was like yeah, that’s that n***a like I was telling you about.

And then it was automatic love, as soon as he came into the studio. I guess that’s how sh*t popped off with our relationship. Fast forward to 2016 or something like that, I dropped two songs with Dave on his Hate Me Now project called “I’ll Do Anything” and the other is called “Chose Me”. That’s produced by my homies Dot and Pro, they’re from New York also. They helped me a lot, specifically Dot, he’s a really dope producer. Buda actually introduced me to Dot, too. So, my cousin got me in with Buda and Buda got me all spread out in New York… put me into position.

I kept building off that and then fast forward to 2018, Dave and I dropped “Daydreaming” when I moved out to LA. And after that I was making projects but was like nah, this ain’t it. So, I was just like this year I’m dropping a project and that’s how I got to Save Yourself because it was just like a big transition with part of my life: me moving to LA. I was just like, I’m going to get it done.

You felt like the projects you were putting out were just like “eh”, did you feel like you just kind of had to step back? What do you mean?

It was just like you know, I put out music with Dave, but that’s all people really knew of me and that’s not even really my lane. That’s just because that’s the homie and we were building records together. I can do hip-hop songs, but my lane… Save Yourself is different from what I was doing with Dave and I hadn’t solidified that. Plus, when I was in New York I was more focused on the writing aspect of things, trying to write for other people. But then I was like, I don’t even want to write for people, like I don’t even care so I’d rather just do it myself.

I started recording myself when I got to New York. Dot gave me a small blue mic and I started recording myself on Logic Pro and that’s how I started building my sound. If you listen to Dave East, “I’ll Do Anything” or “Chose Me,” either one and then listen to my songs on Save Yourself, it’s not even the same person damn near. I was able to tap in with myself and build my sound. So, I think that time and that space was necessary for me to come into myself— really knowing who I am and what I want to give to people as an artist. Because you know even as an artist, what is your point in this whole sea of people doing the same sh*t that you’re doing? I really had to ponder on what I wanted to give to the people. What I really wanted to… not portray because I am who I am in my records. That’s why I have a problem with writers because it’s just like… I am who I am and I’d rather do it.

That’s an interesting point. You said that people know your sound from your features with Dave East, so that is a very important time for you to step back and hone in on who you are and craft your sound. So, would you say that you experimented with your sound or did this time just give you the opportunity to step into yourself?

I mean, I wouldn’t say that there’s any type of beat or even genre that I classify myself in because even the music that I’m working on and that I have coming up is totally different from Save Yourself. It’s not even really r&b. Even how I release songs, I try to release songs that aren’t what you usually hear… not all trap soul or r&b, there’s different variations.

I guess my sound comes from what I do with my voice, so I guess I’ve experimented with that, but before I wasn’t recording myself. I left it up to the engineers to do whatever they wanted to do with my voice, but once I was able to record myself and learn how I like to hear myself and build that, then I was able to solidify okay, this is a sound. And I’m still solidifying that, but I wouldn’t say that there’s certain beats or genres that made me experiment. Even when I started, like I said it was gospel it was Motown. When I went to college my teacher played for John Mellencamp and he’s from Indiana, but he’s a folk country artist. So, I was writing folk country songs and arranging that sh*t in college. He just had me doing it so I had to step into so many different genres already that I don’t really stick to one. Save Yourself was really the start of me releasing music kind of. It’s the beginning of me wanting to solidify my “sound.” That’s why I wanted to present an album. It’s like okay, this is Floyd Miles.

And I guess you could also look at it as an introduction to you, like a really good moment to get to know you aside from the sound because you were still releasing music and people were still familiar with who you are, but a body of work says a lot. But, your background… you grew up listening to and writing for different genres. I feel that sometimes artists try to genre-bend, but it doesn’t necessarily work out for them. What’s your take on that? Because it seems like for you it’s more natural, so you could step into these different genres, but still bring your authentic self without it being some left turn like, whoa what is this.

I mean I just feel like music is universal. I mean, I just feel like music is universal. Melodies from heaven are a real thing, you know. I draw my melodies from different things so music is just music. We didn’t make genres, we’re just making music, like… who made genres if we want to be technical. It’s all music, that’s how I look at it. Whenever I hear a beat or a chorus, I’m going to naturally sing some melodies and if people rock with it, then I appreciate it. It’s therapy and we’re just creating at the end of the day. You bring some sh*t, I bring some sh*t, and see how it feel after.

With no restrictions, no labels… just bring yourself, your talent, your voice and create. What have been some of your most challenging moments throughout your musical journey?

I would say one of my big challenging moments is whenever my music dropped with Dave East, it was connected to another Floyd Miles. It was an older Jazz musician and I didn’t even know that was going on for maybe like a year, this was before I was releasing music. So, like whenever n****s clicked on my name they just saw an older man. Like, is this Floyd Miles?

I never got that recognition for really doing any of those records because every one, even up to “Daydreaming” in 2018… I’m still going through it with platforms today. I’m messaging them and saying, I am not this Floyd Miles. So yeah, that’s really stagnated my career. People have to kind of like find me in a way to know my music, but other than that I just feel like you have to put in work. I wouldn’t say it’s challenging, you take it day-by-day. There’s people that have gone through crazier sh*t than me. I’m out here just doing it my way how I want to do it. You just roll with the punches.

I hope you get that straightened out because I can understand how difficult that can be, especially when you’re trying to track streams and get the data. So now I want to transition into your projects. You released a 9-track album titled Save Yourself… what does this project represent and what was your mindset when creating it?

I would say Save Yourself represents my spiritual and musical ascension that I came to realize. When it all comes down to it, I honestly feel like whatever situation you commit to, you have to save yourself. Nothing moves unless you do, so I feel a lot of times we want to expect things or want to call on help but if you don’t do the work, nothing’s going to happen. I guess that had to do with what I was going through in my life and musically. I would not release albums because I would be like this doesn’t sound how I want it to sound, I need somebody to mix this to where it sounds professional, but this time I was like man… sh*t I’m mixing this. I’m about to drop these songs. I’m always creating and that’s just what it is.

In that mind state I was heavy into meditation and I was reading and learning more about who I am and where I come from, or where we come from as a people. It was a lot of self-reflection at that time.

Literally having to save yourself. Taking your music into your own hands. I don’t have this person or that person, but I’m going to make it happen for myself. And then of course in your spiritual and overall self-awareness… so, literally saving yourself. I think that message will definitely resonate with a lot of people because we’re in an interesting time now of quarantine and how the world is moving now. It’s like, what are you going to do? You’re going to have to [in sync] save yourself!

Save yourself!

Get up and make it happen! Of the nine tracks, do you have a top three?

I mean… I like them all for different reasons. I wouldn’t say a top three. I like “Mirage” because it’s just like, I remember making that song. I remember where I was and my mind state. She thinks that there’s tears in my eyes, but it’s raining outside. I was trying to be like, you think I’m f*cked up right now, but it’s really not that deep… it’s an illusion. That was in my subconscious and I remember just being at my house and just closing my eyes like it’s an illusion and then mirage. I just have a connection to that song.

Then I would say “Save Yourself”. It’s another one where I could remember— being that I recorded that in 2015… of course I re-recorded it over. I made that song in my apartment in New York in the Bronx in 2015. I remember writing that sh*t, it’s just like… it’s crazy. Being in the Bronx, then coming to where I am now, and being in LA— it’s a crazy transition to look back and think of where I was then and to bring everything to a close like right now.

“Save Yourself” and “Mirage” would be my top two that I feel most connected to. And then “No Access” is the one where I’m like this is a vibe and a f*ck with this one. That was the last addition to the project. That was the one I was like I need one more on here then I put “No Access” on there.

I think it’s cool how you still have songs from the start of your journey that still resonate today. Still rocking with a song from 2015 is really timeless. After this release you kept it coming. I noticed that you released a few covers, what do you enjoy most about covering music?

I honestly don’t like covering music [laughing] to be honest. I honestly started doing it just because I’m like I need to see how I’m going to sound on some of these beats, just manifesting myself in with these artists. That’s how it started… manifesting being on these types of beats or working with these producers, getting that practice, and seeing where I stand on that level. I’d much rather just make my own song to be honest, but I’ll do a cover because that’s good content and sometimes I just need to get some sh*t off my head. Sometimes you just need to create and if I don’t have a beat that’s inspiring me at the time I’ll go to an old beat or a new song that I like the beat and I’m just like alright, I’m going to just create something. I don’t have to think too much about it. I can just create, feel how I feel and then let it out and move on. When it’s my song I’m more like… nah, this has to be here and this has to be there… particular.

I was like, oh.. he must love doing this and you’re like… no, I don’t [laughing]. You have a new single titled “OMNI” featuring 3AM. What was it like collaborating with another artist?

It was dope! Me and 3AM honestly just met on Instagram just showing love off the respect of each other’s craft. I was like I’m about to drop a song, you trying to get on this sh*t? And he was like, yeah… it was automatic respect for each other’s craft. We had been following each other for a while and I liked his sound. I was like yo bro I need you on this and he automatically was like yo this is fire.

What’s the concept behind this song? Or is there even one? The reason I ask though is because the artwork is so different and I’m telling myself that this has to mean something.

Well, “OMNI” means in all ways or in all things. In my music I do my best to talk to us, you know, talk to the people. “OMNI” is a new kind of love song and it’s really the woman saying that she wants my love in all ways. What I’ve been doing with a lot of my cover art, like if you look at Save Yourself or “Prove”, which is done by an artist Osanga Art, I do my best to incorporate things that have been manipulated form our culture and how we’re looked at as people, so I want to bring divinity back to who we are and how people look at us, so I did want to bring that dark figure, that dark skin there. If you look really close, you’ll see a lot of symbolism. You’ll see the infinity sign which is OMNI, in all ways and all things forever. You’ll see a lot of symbolism and pyramids; you just have to zoom into the cover art and you’ll see that we’re bringing divinity back. I wanted “OMNI” to be an actual love song. It starts, “got no chains on me if I run out baby are you gonna change on me” and then she said “if you ever leave me imma send an army” and then I said “make it rain,” like bring your crown back, “make it rain on me.” Like, put your crown back on, “say you want it on me”. It’s all about love, that’s what’s going to fix all of this sh*t, you have to love first. Love yourself, save yourself and then you could do anything.

It seems like it’s a song that has multiple meanings. It’s a love song but you’re also speaking to certain things, so I’m interested in knowing how others will receive the song. You said that you and 3AM linked on Instagram. Have you connected with other artists or has it been that easy?

Really, I just connected with artists that want to work with me, you know. I’ve tried to connect with artists in the past, but I’ve learned not to force things. I wouldn’t say it’s been a struggle because I just don’t really reach out much anymore unless I really, really feel like I want to work with you and that I can work with you. I have had some afrobeats artists over in Africa that I’ve reached out to, just because I’m like yeah… I have to say something because I don’t have any connection to them. The people that I do work with they’ve usually been people that I know or that I’m close with. 3AM was just a new person that I started— even people I follow. Like, I really only follow people who want to follow me.

Reciprocating that energy.

Yeah. I’m really big on aligning with what’s going on. I’m not going to force anything. If you don’t want to work, cool. If you do, then dope. If it aligns, then let’s do it. If it feels right, let’s get it.

My final question is how can we stay connected with you?

Instagram and I started using this platform, Lüm. That’s a pretty dope platform. I talk to people pretty closely on there, too. And Twitter.

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