Jay Miles: A New Start
Swiss born US resident Jay Miles talks about his ultra smooth debut solo album out now on MTM.
Hi Jay, Thanks for taking the time to discuss the release of your new album 9 Hours. It's been a long time coming for you - are you relieved to see it done and on its way to CD stores?
As you mentioned, it's been a very long time coming and I am already eager to go back to the Studio to record the next CD. I am very happy with our partners for Europe, they've done an extraordinary job to promote the CD and I am more excited about the reactions to the records so far than I am relieved to see it done...
How long was the process of first writing the songs for the album (and selecting the ones you didn't write) and how long to get the album recorded?
We started out by selecting a mere 300 songs from other songwriters out of Nashville and L.A.. Once we determined which songs would make it to our final selection, we then added the conforming material out of my personal song-catalogue and matched the tunes in depth and sincerity. The actual recording process is always way too short, especially when you take the caliber of musicians working in the studio in consideration. It's my all time favorite part of the business, to see your mental creations taking on a audible form.
I'll jump back to start with - your first release after a long association with music was Steamtrain. What kind of success did you have in Europe with that album?
After all the hype about the music industry and its recent accusations, I consider it a part of a darker chapter of my past life and I don't ever want to be associated with majors again for that exact same reason. I was working for SONY when I released STEAMTRAIN, the conflict of interest was enormous and even though we tried to treat the connection in the most delicate way, someone always found a way to cry "treason" and slam you with lies and deceptions. We entered the charts and remained there for a good 3 months, the production was sincere and we worked three years on that particular record as well.
Do you regret now that it was only 1 album and not more?
For reasons mentioned above....NO, this kind of Rock-sound was on its way out of the major radio-stations when we released it and Lenny Kravitz sang, "Rock-n Roll is Dead". I don't believe that for a second, but the media usually just jumps on every new bandwagon driving by metaphorically speaking. A famous musician once said, "The world of music is just like an ocean, there are a million waves and in the midst of all of it, there is a Rock, the waves come and go, Rock-music will last forever!
What prompted your move to Los Angeles? Obviously it's the music and entertainment capital of the world, but what was your driving force behind this decision?
I actually live in Phoenix Arizona now, L.A. is too hectic, the air is filled with constant "hush-hush-energy". I enjoy Phoenix, it's one of the most intriguing cities in the world, despite the fact that it's built in the middle of the desert. L.A. can be reached by car in 5 hours or by plane (about 30 flights a day) in 45 minutes. I wanted to be in close vicinity to the Entertainment capital, but live in a place as clean and safe as Switzerland.....lol.
I'd like to say that the move worked out well for you, as you have obviously been busy as a session performer, but did it work out for you as planned? I guess everyone has the desire to be worldwide superstar - so were you frustrated at the time that was not happening and are you happy now with your life there?
To be very honest, when I first lived in L.A. it was indeed frustrating, wherever you go you see people who have made it, I had no connections at that time and knew, that without those, there's no way to break into this competitive market. On the other hand, I never had intentions to be a "Superstar", growing up in Switzerland I was raised on the principles of being humble and showing dignity. Maybe that's what all my hero-musicians, who I can call great friends now subconsciously felt when they met me first.
When you got to LA, how did you get your first job and from there - how did you support yourself?
I can hardly recall all the events, all I remember is that I went through a few different managers with great connections. No-one wanted to be fully engaged with an un-known Swiss-dude, but all of them wanted to stay in the loop just in case I would be able to come up with something....you know, it's the name of the game. Keep in contact with everybody, you never know when they might become the next big thing...
The single most important event though was meeting Mike Farrow, a kind man with incredible credentials. He was the scoring mixer and engineer on "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "Fargo", Collateral" and so on and so forth. I met him while I was studying at the "Conservatory of Recording Arts and Science", preparing for my "Engineer and Producer" Diploma. We became great friends over the last 8 years and the rest is history as they say.....Thanks Mike!
What recordings/session work have you done in the years since moving there?
And you remain a citizen of the USA, I presume living in LA? Great city :)
I am still a Swiss-citizen with a VISA for the U.S. My best case future scenario would include living in Europe for a good part of the year and enjoying the warm weather of the West Coast of the U.S. during the winter months.
I hear that you financed the recording of the album yourself and one listen to it and a quick read of the liner notes will show that it would not have been a cheap album to make! So - how did you go about getting the album recorded and the musicians involved? Some mighty names there.
I formed a legitimate company, Steamtrain Entertainment Inc. in 2000 and a subsidiary, Steamtrain Records LLc in 2001. Those entities include Shareholders, (Investors) and a part of the funds were raised through those companies. Although the musicians on the CD are good friends, I strongly believe in the separation of business and pleasure. These guys are worth every penny and I will always pay top dollars for top performances! It's a part of my "acting with integrity" philosophy. As I mentioned before, I met a never-ending list of musicians in the 10 years in the U.S., I traveled between N.Y., Nashville and L.A. whenever there was a new glimpse of hope appearing on the horizon eventually helping my cause. You meet 1000 people and 10 of them end up being a match, that's life and you better be prepared for a lot of effort if you wanna break into anything you pursue with a passion!
Can you share some experiences of working with the great Steve Lukather? And Michael Thompson and CJ Vanstone to name just a few!
What can I say, it's a blast not only because of their mind-blowing talents and performances, they are also a hoot to work with, tons of fun-personalities and incredibly intelligent, witty comments all the time. Let's not forget Neil Stubenhaus, a brilliant mind always worth listening to.
MTM is a great label for melodic music in Europe, but did you have bigger plans for this album? I'm presuming by the amount spent on recording it that you did...
You know, a small company with tons of enthusiasm for your CD like MTM is a million times more worth working with than a huge major with a "nonchalant" attitude towards the vast variety of artists their catalogues usually embody. The guys at MTM, and I'm not just saying that because we signed with them, are great guys good for their word. Every single thing promised so far came through in an on-time performance manner and that...my friend....is worth everything to me!!!
Still, great to see MTM involved and great to see the record available. Nice to have a supportive label behind you?
Absolutely, as I said, they might be relatively small, but the professionalism is equal to a major!
Westcoast is obviously your style of choice, what artists influenced the songwriting and style of this album?
My initial idea was to combine the easy listening melodies of the Backstreet Boys with Lenny Kravitz-style guitars and half acoustic, contemporary drums, only embodying a few, "handmade" loops. I can't stand the unison sound created by most of the chart-tunes these days, seems to me that they all use the same two drum-loop-sample CDs. It's a shame because they would sound so much better with a real drum.
Where to for here as a recording artist Jay? Can you do it all again with another album, or do you have other plans for now?
We, meaning all the musicians already involved, agreed to be back in L.A. in December to start working on the second album. Rest assured, we will make it a notch more powerful and contemporary than its predecessor. I can't wait to let loose again with all the power given to me. The current album contains many melancholic songs, restraining me from singing full force.
What are you currently working on?
Writing a ton of new songs. We are also listening to what's out on the market again and may adapt a few songs from other songwriters again. If anyone out there reading this interview thinks they might have something for us, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anything you would like to add?
This record was originally produced with intentions to release it in the U.S. primarily. We are very excited about the wonderful reactions from Europe so far. Should the record make its way into the charts, we will tour Germany early this fall.
Many thanks for taking the time out to talk about the 9 Hours album.
Hey, the appreciation in on our side, thanks for checking in....anytime!