Interviews with Local Musicians and Artists of the Hudson Valley
Ami Madeleine Daichman
VAN WYCK GAZETTE: What’s important to you right now in terms of making music?
KYLE MILLER: Production and recording. Almost all my favorite classic bands were studio bands: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra, etc. The producer was in the band (George Martin practically was). I’m not opposed to the exposure or being paid to play, and booking nicer listening venues would be ideal, but I don’t want to go on tour playing dives and coffee shops where no one wants to hear me just to say I went on a tour. I just want to keep making albums and if someone notices, great. If not, that’s fine. Recording is the most important part for me.
VWG: Tell us about Little Nothing, your debut album you released last year.
KM: I recorded Little Nothing with Lee Falco, Brandon Morrison and Lee Bryant of The Building Records in Marlboro, NY. After we released the record on May 1st, they went on tour with Donald Fagan from Steely Dan and were his backing band as “The Nightflyers”. They also toured with guitarist Connor Kennedy and multi-instrumentalist Zach Djanikian.
I was so satisfied with the way it came out. I’ve actually been putting my album on when I’m with other people- they have to know it exists. I’m looking towards the next record though. We’ll record this year and release another record that will include a vinyl pressing.
VWG: Was there a theme for Little Nothing? What’s the inspiration for the new record?
KM: Not precisely a theme. Little Nothing had a lot to do with heartbreak whereas this new one is somewhat fictional. My approach it a little different. It’s not so much about my life and more about chord progressions and melody rather than content..more about the musicality.
I’m not trying to make a record I can recreate live. It’s freeing in a way. So for the next record my only goal is to have strings. Layer two or three tracks like an orchestra. It’s something no one does anymore and people partially don’t because it sounds hokey or dated. It’s fresh now because no one does it.
VWG: How’s it been working with a band? Do you prefer performing solo?
KM: Solo is easiest to book and practice for. I’m thankful I’m comfortable with playing solo because not everyone wants to or is comfortable doing. It’s more intimate and vulnerable.
There’s nothing like playing with a band though. “Fade Away” from the record is the only song I’ve ever played in front of people where I don’t have an instrument in my hands. It’s the best feeling. To just stand there and sing is amazing. I don’t have to divide my attention between two things. Just hangin’ out like Nick Cave or Mick Jagger...well, not as intense as Mick Jagger.
VWG: How do you like living in the Hudson Valley?
KM: I’ll be here for a long time if not forever, frankly. I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in Albany and thought, “Wow. Life is just boring”, and when I moved here (New Paltz) I realized it’s great: not everything has to be a strip mall. I enjoy it a lot. The music around here is varied and ultimately there are a lot of styes all at once.
VWG: And you’re working with someone local on a music video for “Fade Away”?
KM: I am working on a music video with my good friend Ally Fernandez (IG: @moondoggin). She’s a great photographer and videographer.
The internet is amazing because so many interesting, weird, niche, customizable things are coming out. For the video I’m going to print my lyrics onto bendy straws so I’ll be drinking out of lyrics from the song. I’m also going to design a suit with a repetitive pattern. There are so many things you can have made. The Internet is a wholly interactive tool for information, education and creation. It’s why the 21st century is such a bizarre time to be alive. It’s a different place than our parents and grandparents knew, both to our detriment and for good. Goes both ways.
VWG: What’s it like to be an artist in the 21st century, the age of information and technology?
KM: Well, Father John Misty beat me to the record I’ve been softly conceiving for a long time: a record about modern life and what modernity represents. His SNL performance of “Pure Comedy” was amazing. That’s how I got turned on to his music. I was so shocked at how emotive he was. Turns out later he was on acid. It’s a moving performance. But he beat me to making that record I’d been conceiving. I definitely thought for a while about how, for example, I could write a song that involved a text message that wasn’t dated, stupid or clumsy. How do you make something as 2018 as a text message timeless?
VWG: Yes. We’re at a point where we’re all trying to figure out how to integrate.
KM: We’re definitely facing a crisis...an artistic crisis. People are feeling some kind of way. Everything we talked about, technology, modernity, converging with existential crises and philosophical crises, even if people don’t have the words to describe what that is...all those things converging is creating a crisis.
The Beatles were the most successful rock band in history but didn’t necessarily address that. Maybe one of Bob Dylan’s records addressed it. Either The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde, touched on some crisis in the 60’s people were having. It’s not different from now except the element of real meaningful technology was not important. We’re still dealing with strife in equality, confusion, sorrow, existentialism, but guess what? People didn’t have cell phones on top of it. He touched everything but the cell phone.
I think the next piece of art that people give a f**k about is gonna be whatever finally addresses that crisis. It has to be on a deep spiritual level, not surface. It can’t be about the fact that you don’t make enough money. It has to be something that touches the kernel of that problem...that tiny ember inside people.
Find Kyle Miller’s debut album Little Nothing on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.
Catch him live every 1st Tuesday (rain or shine) at Jar’d in New Paltz, NY.