miles francis


I needed to make music out of my life and I needed to make it alone.

Miles Francis

Hi Miles and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Musicology.

Firstly congratulations on your new EP Swimmers. The lead single Take It has a delicious fusion of styles. Is this a reflection of your abilities as a multi-instrumentalist and drawing upon your years of experience and intimate knowledge of the many instruments you have grown up with over the years?

I grew up in a musical family that encouraged me to express myself on whatever musical instrument I wanted. “Take It” is a true amalgamation of all the instruments I grew up playing: the drums, which I started playing when I was 6; the acoustic guitar and the voices, which came shortly after; then I picked up the bass, and finally the electric guitar. When I track multiple instruments on a song, my goal is to play as if I’m playing in a band with other people. Tracking multiple instruments one at a time lets me focus on each instruments’ role in the song, and approach each element with the appropriate amount of ego. On “Take It” for example, the synth bass definitely has the biggest ego in the room, and the other instruments follow its lead. When you’re in a band with others, that “hierarchy" of instrumentation gets complicated because everybody brings their own ego to the table.

Deserve Your Love is an epic single, masterfully composed and one that incrementally builds into a crescendo and peaking with the lyric “ I do not deserve your love”. Can you provide us an insight into the background for this track?

“Deserve Your Love" was one of those songs that I didn’t know I needed to write. When I write and record songs, I usually don’t go in to the studio with a plan, like “I’m gonna write about this” - I just dive in. If I think too much about it, I get further from the heart of what I need to express. I try to keep it instinctual. My songs start with a seed from my own personal life, an anxiety or an emotion - but they grow from there into a more universal character. When I wrote and recorded “Deserve Your Love,” I was going through a personal moment of reckoning with different relationships in my life, and that emotional anxiety was the root of the song, lyrically and musically. I recorded the dissonant acoustic guitars over the simple hypnotizing drumbeat, and out of that, this character emerged, singing about his hidden demons. It was clear that the only way the character could end the song was to be madly screaming that line, with thundering reverb and wailing electric guitars swelling underneath.

The video clip to Deserve Your Love was directed by Charles Billot with choreography by Magdalyn Segale. Was there a strong storyboard for this clip right from the get go or one that was more of an organic approach that unfolded as you all bounced ideas off one another?

Filmmaker Charles Billot and I made 5 music videos (one for each song), together forming a companion short film. Just like the music, the videos were made with a careful balance of meticulousness and improvisation. The Deserve Your Love video was one of the first concepts he had: the car, the street fight, the darkness of it all… he drew that imagery out of the music, and we built from there. Charles did a ton of storyboard work and planning, but there was also spontaneity; not overthinking it, just following instinct. As a result, the videos ended up completely illuminating the music for me and uncovered my vision for the EP as a whole.

You have been receiving high praise from high places and touted as New York’s next biggest export. Does this add an extra level of pressure that you take into recording and performing?

No. No matter what, when it’s time to create, artists always have to return to square one.

In terms of the writing and lyrical content, was there an overarching narrative tying the EP together or an assortment of topics and inspirations that zig zag throughout the record?

There was no overarching narrative or lofty goal going in. I needed to make music out of my life, and I needed to make it alone - and Swimmers came out. After I recorded the songs and stepped back, I saw more clearly what I was trying to communicate and could extract themes from it. Each song has its own narrative world, but to me overall Swimmers is about change - losing and finding pieces of yourself, evolving and devolving, feeling lost and found. It happens in personal relationships, your career, how you feel in the world - it happens on micro daily levels and over the course of years - and it is a necessary struggle. Swimmers is a snapshot of that moment.

In recording Swimmers EP what challenges did you encounter and conversely what were some of the enjoyable surprises you experienced?

I’ve been recording my songs by myself since I was 10, but my main identity was always as a drummer - drums were my first love and my introduction to music. I entered the music industry as a drummer, touring and recording with various bands, all the while retaining this secret that I actually write songs and play all these instruments. Living with that secret was a struggle for me up until the day Swimmers was released. Now, I am exposed in the best way: I am my truest self, for everyone to see. The years of touring and recording with other bands got me to Swimmers, though - those collaborations built my musical mind. Now, it’s switched, and it’s my ‘secret’ that I’m a drummer first - and I love that.

Based in NYC and using the city as a focal point in drawing upon some of the creative inspiration it provides in writing and recording, do you feel like an outsider looking in or an insider projecting outward to a wider audience?

I was born and raised in Manhattan. What I love most about New York City is its dependability. I’ve always made a point to regularly leave the city, whether it’s to Long Island or Ghana, and I pick up inspirations and perspectives - but when I return, the city pushes me to work it all out and create. I’m addicted to the feeling I get the instant I return to New York - it’s time to get to work. Swimmers was made as I was in and out of touring with different bands. I would return home to my basement studio and immerse in my music late at night, while the streets were quiet; the next morning I would walk around my neighbourhood listening to what I created, passing by infinite strangers. I want to bring this music, made alone in a windowless basement studio in this intense city, to the rest of the world.

Have meet so many interesting characters and musicians throughout the years, were there any defining moments or conversations that really resonated with you that altered the way you approach your craft?

My father told me early on to simply make music that’s true to me, and to persist at it. I’m lucky to have learned so much from various mentors over the years - but I always return to that one piece of advice.

Currently on tour for Swimmers, how have you found the reaction so far?

I made Swimmers alone in my studio, so playing it live on tour has been extremely rewarding. To see people enjoying it is something I do not take for granted. The live show has become its own beast, too - we turn the EP inside out and show its raw guts. For random people to come out in different cities and connect with my music in their own personal way is pretty much the dream. Releasing music online is special in its own way, but getting in front of people in the flesh is what it will always be about. Plus, touring always inspires me to write and create the next thing, too - the cycle begins all over again.

Swimmers By Miles Francis Is Out Now