Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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There might not be enough superlatives to describe 20 year old newcomer Maggie Miles. As a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, she defies categorization, and can quite literally do it all.
Originally from Virginia, Miles relocated to Nashville this past fall, although the move featured one small issue – “The first couple weeks I was sleeping on the floor, because I ordered a bed frame online and it hadn’t come yet,” she says with a laugh, “That quite literally kept me close to earth.”
Ironically, she’s seeing less and less of that bed, as she’s spending quite a bit of time on the road, including a recent stop in NYC at Mercury Lounge where she turned everyone in attendance into a fan.
Here are eight things you should know about this rising star.
Her song “Shiver” is a perfect introduction to her music
“I am working on an album right now,” Miles explains, “so that song, I think, is a good bridge between (my previous single) ‘Belief,’ which is really funky and electronic, and then the album’s a little bit more organic, but it does not shy away from tracks, or MIDI, or anything like that. I feel like ‘Shiver’ kind of marries those elements, or at least I attempted to. Lyrically I think it’s relevant to what’s on the record, and then also I think sonically I vibe with it quite a bit.”
Her lyrics are so personal her parents have texted her about them
“I had a song that I wrote a couple months ago, when I first came to Nashville, and I played it at a show that my dad was at and he texted me afterward, ‘Hey kid, you OK?’ Obviously, yeah, I’m fine.”
When it comes to the deeply personal nature of her songwriting, Miles says, “I always looked at it as me understanding myself, and processing my emotions, my confusing thoughts, all of that kind of stuff. Sort of sorting how I felt. The idea of then taking that really vulnerable thing and intentionally sharing it with people, for a living … it’s really weird when I stop and think about it. In the moment you’re like oh my gosh, this song, I’m so excited about this, I really love this progression, or the modulation here – just like the dorky stuff about making a song – but then like you step back and you’re like oh man, those lyrics are really raw, and you’re like oh, I’m gonna have to share that with people. It’s just bizarre, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Being left handed caused some initial pains when teaching herself to play guitar
Miles plays a right handed Stratocaster left handed, but she admits this wasn’t a purposeful decision.
“That’s not even like a novelty thing,” she explains, “I’m left handed. It’s kind of funny because Nirvana, Kurt (Cobain), he did that, too. I’m not even gonna attempt to compare myself, because that’s silly, but when I started playing guitar I noticed it was just a lot more difficult, and then I realized it was because I was playing it upside down.”
Needless to say, learning to play the guitar was a bit of an adventure. “When I was teaching myself, I was looking up these chord charts on Google Images, and I’m like, ‘Wait, I thought THAT was the D string. I’m so confused.’ I was trying to do it, and then finally it clicked. I felt like a moron, but honestly, it’s like whatever. I just was like you know what, I’ll just flip the strings, and it gives me so many issues all the time, but I love that guitar.”
She has a keytar in her musical arsenal
There aren’t a lot of people who know how to play the keytar, a badass relic from the ‘80s, and the synth pop / synth rock era, but Miles has one, and she loves to break it out at shows.
“I’m not a fantastic guitarist,” she says, “I can get by, (but) piano is like my main thing, so I was trying to think, what’s a way I can still contribute sonically, but be able to thrash and jump around like the rest of my bandmates – except the drummer, he’s confined – but I was like man, what do I do? I’m not quite a good enough bassist that I feel comfortable playing live, and guitar is not where I write a lot on, so I was like – keytar. It just makes sense, and it’s really fun.”
Actually procuring a keytar, wasn’t quite so easy. “They’re pretty pricey, and anytime I saw one in a Guitar Center, or something, I was like oh shoot, they’re really expensive.”
Walking into a small music store in Franklin, TN, Miles experienced a musician’s version of love at first sight. “I saw this red keytar leaning against the wall and I was like, there she is. I didn’t even research it, I literally just bought it that day and walked out.”
She loves the music of the ‘90s … and the ‘80s … and the ‘70s
Growing up in a musical household, Miles was exposed to classic rock at an early age.
“I’ve always been raised on a lot of grunge, and ‘90s rock – Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains was one of my favorites, Pearl Jam. That was more of my dad.”
On the maternal side of things, she says, “My mom really loved the ‘80s, and hair metal. Van Halen, The Cars, all the classics. So it was kind of this mishmash.”
During Miles’ teenage years she began seeking out even more classic bands. “When I got into high school, and started experimenting, and writing myself, and figuring out what I like to listen to, that’s when I discovered Fleetwood Mac, and Heart, all of those bands.”
Although she’s very familiar with the music of Van Halen, she thinks the reaction to Billie Eilish not knowing the band was over the top
“I thought it was dumb how everybody thrashed out,” she says, adding, “You can’t blame someone for what they’ve been exposed to … it just depends on what your parents tossed in front of your ears.”
She’s had some odd jobs to support her career
While in the video for “Shiver” Miles is shown working at a roller rink, in reality she’s had a number of random jobs to support her career, including, at one point, working at the front desk of a massage therapy office.
“It was really weird,” she remembers, “because it had no windows, and it was in an office building. It was always really dark, because they wanted it to be relaxing, and there was this fountain behind me. It was so sleepy. I had to answer the phone, set up appointments, and I’m so bad at this. I don’t know how I got the job. I am not good at that kind of stuff. I’m just like nodding off, and then (the fountain) would also make me have to pee all the time.”
She has a growing album collection
While Miles’ record player is currently in need of repair – “I think the belt snapped,” she laments – this hasn’t stopped her from building an album collection.
Miles has also recently become a fan of cassettes, picking up tapes by Eric Clapton, and George Harrison.
“I don’t even consider myself a music junkie at all,” she says, “I just enjoy listening to it. I’m not like a snob. I don’t know every track title, or year the album was pressed. I just know how it makes me feel, and that’s what music really is.”