An Interview with Kendall Miles
As an artist, it’s important how one views limitation – it can either hinder or extremely benefit the creative process. For Kendall Miles, he’s met his fair share of limitations, but that hasn’t stopped him from creating some the most cohesive lofi hip-hop I’ve heard in awhile. He discusses his biggest challenge when writing music and how pushing boundaries gives him the ability to experiment with his sound.
Tell me a bit about your background in music -How long have you been creating?
I started playing guitar when I was 14. I saw my father produce and play a lot of music when I was young, and I wanted to be talented like him. I was always interested in learning every aspect of music. From the writing process, to recording and mix/mastering. I started recording my own music while I was in college at 18.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your creative journey?
I wish I would have known that limitations can be extremely beneficial, and that some of the best music is created because you are limited in some regard. I was always under the impression that they were hurting my creative ability, especially when I was in college using a lot of time studying, and working part time. It wasn’t easy to get the necessary equipment or time I needed to make music.
How did you find your sound and how would you describe it? Are there any musicians that inspire you to stay active?
My sound is typically whatever I am feeling at the time. I may make a 30 second soft guitar song one day, and a 4 minute solo piano song the next, and a boombap song after that. I am still finding my sound. I love musicians whose work is an extension of themselves. Musicians that push boundaries, and are not afraid to sound different or try something new inspire me. I take inspiration from artists around the world that play different styles of music. Some of my favorite artists include Elephant Gym, Totorro, Santana, and several composers that create scores for movies and video games. Listening to my record collection always inspires me to stay active.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in music?
I become obsessed with getting every sound the way I want it. It is hard for me to move on from something if I cannot get it to sound perfect to me.
What are your studio essentials?
I think my best music comes from when I bring my feelings with me to my work space. As far as gear is concerned, I love outboard gear and analog equipment. Roland makes my favorite amps, keyboards, and effects.
What instruments do you know how to play?
The instrument I am most skilled at is guitar. I always wanted to be in a fusion or mathrock band, but I haven’t found enough band mates yet. I was fortunate enough to be able to learn and record piano songs without much prior piano experience. Another instrument I play in my tracks includes synthesizer, and midi sounds. I am always looking to improve.
How long have you been playing those instruments?
I was 14 when I started playing guitar, and 19 when I started taking piano and keyboard more seriously. I am 22 [now].
Do you mostly sample or create your own melodies? How do you go about choosing the right sounds to sample?
I mostly create my own melodies, but I will sample if it adds an element to the song that I love. Choosing the right sample is a feeling that occurs when you hear it, and you just know it is the one.
How long do you typically spend on each project?
Now that I work full time, I have no choice but to spend a long time on each project, usually several months to over a year. I hope to eventually make music full time and create more for my listeners.
Besides music, are there any other mediums that you like to stay creative in?
I use most of my creativity with music, but some other mediums I enjoy include sports (I am a huge boxing/football fan), learning more about the electrical field, and collage art is my favorite to look at.
If you could only listen to 2 albums for the rest of your life what would they be?
This is a tough question because there are so many albums I love but I could not live without Newborn Sun by CHON, and Channel Orange by Frank Ocean. Those two albums remind me of the best years of my life.