If we took one person off of the street and you had to describe your music to them, how would you?
I would describe it as if Prince and the Beach Boys got into the studio together and this weird electrical explosion happened, and they sort of morphed into one being and then wrote a song instantly… but in terms of genre labels, its hard to pick for me. At this point I make indie-pop or alternative-pop, because I do make pop music but it doesn’t sound like pop music.
Out of all the places you’ve been, what is your favorite place you’ve been to?
I’ve gotten the chance to play at Carnegie Hall a few times and the first time was as the house band Antibalas, the band i used to play with. And I really just got to be on that stage for hours… It just felt really special to me and as a New Yorker, it really felt like the closest thing to an achievement… it’s just one of those places that is magical. The more venues you play as a musician, you get used to it- but then there are some places no matter who you are, it’s special.
Did growing up in New York and you father playing Jazz music inspire you to make music?
Yeah my dad and my mom both. My dad because I watched him play and I was fixated on the drummer and I was surrounded by live music, and my mom because she is the biggest music fan I know. She is the type to just be humming around the house! I think that instilled just sort of a music 24/4. My father set me up with drums, but never told me what to do with music. He was there for me to play with him or he let me experiment on my own, so I owe it all to both them, and uniquely they set me up with a space. When I was little I grew up in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, this sort of concrete box at the time that I could play music in at all hours in the heart of Manhattan.
Your new EP deals with emotions that everyone has- are there any tracks that you didn’t include that you may include on another album?
When I write songs I usually inhabit a certain character, not a character pulled from a movie or from a cartoon, but it’s part of myself that I magnify and that the song and it always feels like a part of me or somebody close to me and my experience. There are songs that I haven’t released yet that are going to be coming out in the future that dive deeper into that. Looking forward I’ve been writing a lot about Men and the different things men are going through, and that subject to me is endlessly interesting because the idea of what it is to be a man is being looked at by society and I think it’s making men react in many different ways. I’m not writing men for men, I was writing to show the struggles that men are going through to figure out their place in the world and that world being a world more equal.
I decided to take Swimmers and do the dark side of whatever Swimmers was and… I’ve been thinking of the angel and the demon… and replacing it with these voices that accompany you when you get older, and by ‘getting older’ I mean leaving childhood and you start thinking of life in a different way and life starts compressing your child-like wonder, and those thing are trying to suppress you and I wanted to show those and literal people with me… and I’m most interested in the idea that everyone has these things who you are, no matter where you’re from, it is like everybody deals with the fact that life is going on and that life will end.. I wanted to sort of reach anybody listening to and just make them feel like they are not alone with having those things.
What was your favorite music video that you’ve made?
I would say “I Could Use Your Love,” I had a bunch of friends dress up in body suits and dance. And I got to express myself physically and in a way that I haven’t done in the other videos and just dance. It just felt like a dream come true.
If you could go back and play with another artist, which one would you play with and why?
I think I would have to go with Sharon Jones. I did a tour with the Dap-Kings when I was with Antibalas.. And we would play this long song and Sharon would be leading it like it was the finale of the show, and it was electric even though it was a tour and we played the same show every night. That part would come, and no matter what I would be waiting, looking at her and waiting for her to put up her hand or sing a cue to go to the bridge. I was just super present and alive and I would get chills just from her energy.
As an artist, what was the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome to be where you are now?
For me, I went through a good amount of years as a hired drummer, and it took me years for me to commit to myself as a song writer. And there were many different reasons, one being a very logistical/financial reason where if you’re working doing something but it’s not creatively yours, it’s really hard to make the change and transition when you’re working. That required a pivot in my life. The second thing is as a working musician, when you’ve backed up so many amazing artists to really believe that too. I’ve always dreamt of playing Madison Square Garden and the songs I was singing on the road were instead to Madison Square Garden, drumming for somebody else playing their songs. And that is what I thought that was my dream was until I started getting close to that, and I realized I wanted to be singing my message on this huge stage and that was sort of existential question that arose in my life because even though I was playing big venues I would walk away from them wanting more, and although the drums were my obsession and my everything, I realized that drums are just one part of what I want to say. The drums are the medium for which I write music.
Listen to the latest EP from Miles Francis here.
Overall Miles Francis has something that not every person has when it comes to music, and that is passion. From lyrics, melodies or music videos- it is very apparent that he has a passion that is not found in every musician. I would highly recommend a conversation with him; a man who can play Carnegie Hall and a record store in Dallas, Texas and be content with both is someone who knows the value of putting in hard work to do what they love to do. I look forward to hearing his future projects and seeing him playing his music, and hearing his message.