Brenna Miles, musically known as B.Miles, has that California soak-up-the-sun-vibe of Lana Del Ray but with the ethereal undertones of Moby. Don’t let that fool you though, she’s a New York City resident now. “I’m originally from Pasadena, California. I moved to New York about five years ago to be closer to my bandmates and musical collaborators, who are also my best friends and family at this point. In the process I’ve really fallen in love with my new city,” admits the singer.
B.Miles does not want to be considered pop or alternative – her music is truly genre-less. “The last thing I ever want to do is pigeonhole B.Miles into a specific genre or sound. My favorite part about this project is that we’re constantly evolving and we’re always challenging ourselves and pushing our creative output,” the singer says. Keyboards, guitars, and drums helped to encapsulate her unique, yet moody sound.
Her lead single “Worst Enemy” off her upcoming debut album stirs emotions and feelings that we forgot we had. “The lyrics personify the things that we do like about ourselves blaming the piece we don’t like for our faults and apathy,” says the singer. Miles is a force to be reckoned with. The bass and electronic beats mixed with her spectral vocals make us at Ladygunn wonder what is next.
Ladygunn’s Robert Frezza sat down with Miles to talk influences, 9 to 5 gigs, and gracing the stage at NYC’s beloved Bowery Ballroom.
When did you know your singing can come to fruition?
I grew up in a house where my dad wanted my first words to be “The Beatles” instead of “Dada.” My parents also love telling me how I was able to sing before I could talk. Around the age of 4, I was starring in “The Brenna Show,” invented by my sister while she was bored waiting for her carpool to school. It was quite the show with lots of singing, dancing and jokes (probably bad ones). The first song I ever wrote was about chickens in kindergarten and, yes, I still remember all the words. From there singing was really all I ever thought about, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I returned to writing and started this B.Miles project. In some ways, I’m still just trying to recapture the magic of that chicken song though.
I read you are playing sold-out shows, but return to daily life the next day with work and what not? How true is that?
Ha! Believe it or not, that’s my life to a tee. At least it was pre-COVID. The reality of living as an artist in a city like New York is that sometimes selling out those big shows doesn’t quite do it in terms of paying the bills. I ended up working at a very corporate, buttoned-up day job in Midtown Manhattan and then spending my nights playing lowkey DIY shows with my friends around Brooklyn and Queens. It’s really like being one person living two different realities, sitting at a desk from 8 am until 6 pm in pantsuits and then running to a soundcheck right afterward. The shows definitely started to grow over the past few years, and I’ve even seen some co-workers in the crowd who I never even told that I do this. It’s been rewarding to really embrace the hustle of New York, but sometimes that push and pull of living two different lives definitely starts eating at me.
You played Bowery Ballroom. What was that experience like?
We’ve played there a few times at this point and it’s definitely still a surreal experience. My band and I have played tons of shows where the backline was just filled with broken amps and busted speakers, so from our first soundcheck there we knew we were in for something else entirely. It was a sold-out show and it felt like everyone I had met during my time in New York was there, plus a bunch of new faces singing all the words which was a “pinch me” moment. Afterward our whole band and crew saw another friend perform and we were all just dancing and drinking and celebrating. Hopefully, when everything is safe to get back to normal, we can do it all again. There’s still nothing like live music in New York.
What helped you define your sound? It’s very ethereal.
It took me a very long time to nail the sound. I met my songwriting partner Eric Nizgretsky in college, he also plays in the band Loose Buttons, and it took us a lot of trial and error to find what we wanted to do. The first EP we released got such a great reaction and we knew we had the foundations of something we wanted to keep growing. But for us, it’s always been important to evolve with every new collection. For “Worst Enemy” specifically, we were listening to a lot of Francois de Roubaix, Kool & The Gang and Moby…obviously a natural combination.
How are you keeping sane in these COVID times?
Oh I feel like I’ve 100% lost my mind in these COVID times! Being trapped in a New York apartment definitely hasn’t helped and I feel like it’s sparked a fair share of internal conflict. I’m currently trying to convince my boyfriend to move to the Bahamas with me. So far, I have not succeeded. I did get a dog at the beginning of quarantine, and she’s a beautiful pitbull named Grace. She’s very good at bringing me happiness and sanity during all this craziness.
You released your new song “Worst Enemy”. Can you tell me more about it?
“Worst Enemy” is easily one of my favorite songs I’ve been a part of. I mentioned Kool & The Gang earlier, and the song actually stems from a sample that one of my producers Matias Quarleri was fooling around with. He played it to me, and I instantly realized we had to use it for something. I called up my writing partner Eric and we started working on turning this into a full song. We knew we needed to bring in my bandmate Jackson Firlik, whose production skills could articulate what we were trying to do, and the four of us put together a skeleton for the song that I was so proud of. We finished the idea late at night and I came home and woke up my boyfriend with headphones so he could listen. I really do love this song and think the message rings so true. We’re our own worst enemy and our own toughest critic.
The song dives into some of the internal monologue that goes on in my head when I’m judging myself. Everyone has a side of themselves they think is great and a side that they don’t really like. The dichotomy and internal division are themes that run through most of the new songs I’ve been working on.
Is “Worst Enemy” indicative of your debut album sound wise?
I think thematically it’s in step with a lot of the new music I’ll be putting out soon. Exploring the different sides of my personality and the characters I feel I have to play throughout the course of a day. Me at 8 am is very different from me at 6 pm and that’s very different from how I am at 1 am after a show. I think there’s a lot of angst in those divisions, and it tends to manifest itself in a more aggressive, probably grittier sound than I’ve ever explored before. Although I’m not trying to lose my place on the Spotify playlist “Music To Have Sex To” either.
How do you see yourself fitting into today’s pop and hip-hop landscape?
With so many moods and “characters” explored in this new music, there are definitely different tones and genres from track to track. Plus, I get to play with so many amazing musicians both live and in the studio, so it’s so much fun to see what they’ll bring to the table to spice things up. Because of my five-piece band (which includes Eric on bass and Jackson on drums, plus Rob Seeley on guitar and Michael Alexander on a little bit of everything), there’s definitely a bit of a retro feel compared to some of the other pop music being released right now. In terms of hip-hop, I’ve tried to freestyle before and I’ll spare you. But every day when I walked out of my office I’d have “The Next Episode” on full blast.
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photos / Josh Aronson