Miles Graham‘s rocky road through music, which once saw his writing come to a grinding halt in the face of heartbreak, has brought him full circle.
Now using that heartbreak as fuel and his music as therapy, Graham returns with the single ‘Don’t Change’, a new EP, and the support of Laura Whitmore, RTE and the BBC. This could so easily never have been, as Graham’s success is testament to his ability to bounce back and express himself through emotive, soulful sounds.
I caught up with him ahead of the new EP, entitled ‘All The Right Things’…
Congrats on the forthcoming EP. Can you tell me a little bit of the story behind it?
I’d been working hard on promoting my music and creating music up to two years ago when I had a massive personal setback in the form of heartbreak. I can talk a little bit about it now but back then I was totally floored.
A couple of weeks after my relationship of 18 years broke up I was invited on The Late Late TV Show. It was a massive opportunity that my manager and I worked so hard to get, but I was in no state to go on live to TV to the nation. I told my manager ‘I’m not sure I can do this’. However, my family said to me that I’d worked so hard that I really deserved the opportunity and convinced me otherwise.
I did the performance on The Late Late in April 2018. It was OK but I don’t feel it was up to my normal standard personally. I totally broke down afterwards I told myself I cant do this right now. So I effectively gave up music. During what felt like a grieving process over next year I began to write through my experiences, I just couldn’t stop myself. It was write, or die. Seems strong, but that’s how I felt, maybe it was therapy.
A year later I had a bunch of songs that my friend Shane sent to a publishing company/ label in the UK. They loved the music and immediately hired a producer to record them, and here we are.
I understand a lot of your music is based around life’s more challenging sides. Is it a kind of therapy for you, and how does that work in practise?
It definitely seems that way now re: therapy, but previous records were never as close to the bone as this record. I would take stories I’ve heard and mix them up to create fictional narratives or moods. I think generally my songs have always held hope and I don’t think that has changed, but maybe I’m slightly more realistic on this record.
How does it feel to be releasing the EP into this surreal world right now?
In a strange way it feels like we’re stuck on pause but I think the world needed a break from itself. With no disrespect to people suffering from Covid19 or their loved ones, there is so much unity & togetherness.
Regards the record, I am terrified by the fact that it’s so personal, but I’m a lot calmer after knowing that I’m still here after what I’ve been through. I’ve nothing to lose.
The title track of the EP is ‘All the Right Things’, this tells a story of my journey to anyone starting out in the music business and all of its ups and downs. How you can do ‘all the right things, with wrong results ‘. The right thing for you may be the wrong thing for someone else or visa versa.
You’ve had quite a lot of love from major radio stations over the last year or two. Does that kind of thing make a big difference to you?
I would be lying if I said that a little love back from radio isn’t important, in fact, it’s very important that you get support from radio producers. I played at a BBC Radio 2 day out in Maida Vale in 2017 and Gary Barlow did a talk to all the BBC producers saying if they didn’t support Take That’s first record he wouldn’t be there. He also said it takes a million pound to break a new artists record which I hope he’s wrong about.
I see Laura Whitmore has been lending her support this week. How do you feel when those tweets come up?
I genuinely love Laura, she’s really a positive beacon that I don’t think people realise. she’s been amazing in supporting my music, we met on an Irish TV show way back and subsequently, we literally bumped into each other as I exited the London underground in Camden.
She later came to a gig and said some lovely things about the music. I’ll always be indebted to her for her support. It’s a brave thing to do when you’re in the media spotlight like she is. There’s a lot of celebrities that are really afraid of supporting something that may or may not flourish.
What made you decide Dido’s ‘Thank You’ was the right cover to perform for Laura’s show? It’s a very clever version…
I’d been toying around with cover songs last year and as my producer of the EP Paul Herman co-Wrote ‘Thank You’ with Dido I said I’d give it a go, but I just left it at that. Then when Laura invited me on her show on BBC radio 5, I came back to it.
When I sat down at the piano at home to record it, it was different, I had all of what was going on right now in my mind with the pandemic, the care workers, this surreal-ness and a culmination of my personal experience up to then, all mixed into one. It wasn’t thought to be ‘a clever version’ it came naturally in its arrangement and was from the heart. I was overwhelmed by the reaction of Laura, her co-hosts & the listeners’ responses.
How did you find working with Paul Herman on the EP?
Paul’s a gent. A family man at heart like myself. Really cool guy and if he doesn’t mind me saying a bit of a music nerd, especially when it comes to soul music. Which is where we aligned.
It was really easy to work with him. I have a visual idea for most of the songs I write, that’s sometimes in a type of swagger like the groove in ‘All the Right Things’ or a mood in ‘Give it up now'(2 other tracks from the EP) he understood that and gave me a lot of freedom.
You have an incredibly varied vocal. Does that impact on the way you write songs?
Thank you, I suppose it does, but I don’t think about it when writing. I try to find a nice key to have room in my range to play around with. I grew up listening to singers with great range and admired falsetto voices like Smokie Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.
How are you spending this shutdown period?
Really busy so not getting much time for Netflix or to even watch the news, but I can’t say I did much of that before lockdown either. I’ve been doing some personal gigs for fans in their living rooms in Germany, Holland, the UK and the US.
I just reached out to see if I could do anything. People are very lonely out there. I’ve also done Instagram live sessions with Hotpress and others in the UK. I really do miss the live gigs though. You can’t beat that energy.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m really proud of the music I’m making right now and the EP that’s coming. There are some really great songs. I don’t think it’s like anything else out there. That may be a good thing or a bad thing from a media perspective but either way, it’s honest. We’ve got another single coming that is very different to the first one so it will be interesting how that’s received. I’m so grateful to be able to release music again and I don’t take any of this for granted.