Southampton-based artist Miles Grindey has been involved with music since a young age. While he really got a start in the industry with the band The Bones and Arrows, he has been doing his own thing since leaving the band. Now he has unleashed his album Isolate This!, created during the peak of COVID-19 lockdown. We sat down with Miles Grindey to talk about the album, collaborations, his creative process and much more!
OSR: Was there a moment or experience that made you think that music is what your future holds?
Grindey: I remember the day! It was in early 2016 when I was in my first year at the University of Brighton. Prior to this, I was passing Brighton Guitars, I popped in and played a very expensive Gibson SG with an equally expensive Marshall stack. Jack Pout knew a guy who was looking for a guitarist for a band, put me in touch with him and I joined, they were “The Bones and Arrows”.
Once we were writing music and actually ended up recording an EP, that was the experience that made me go “I better put this to good use”. Completely changed my life, up until then playing the guitar was always a bit of a hobby.
OSR: You recently released your latest album Isolate This!, is there a backstory or theme?
Grindey: I want to say yes, but really it’s a mixed bag. Each track was composed with a mood or a feeling in mind. ‘Jammy Dave’ is a tribute to my good friend and jam lord David Martin, who I’ve not seen since the UK went into lockdown. ‘Have It Your Way’ was really just an initial keyboard mess-around that I really liked. Mostly came from, what I felt was, really cool things I was just playing with to pass the time. ‘Nothing But Sweet Memories’ came from that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you spend time with someone you love, it’s sweet, it’s lovely and it’s full of emotion.
OSR: The album was recorded at the start of the UK lockdown. What challenges did this present?
Grindey: Well firstly, the problem of not being able to head into a recording studio, sit down with a producer and engineers and go “right, here’s what I got, now what?”. In some aspects of the whole process, not having that immediate resource was a steep, oh so steep, learning curve.
Another was trying to organise singers or whatever, there were other tracks that are now “pigeonholed” because I think it’s better to just sit down with people and talk it over face-to-face and obviously with the pandemic that’s not easy. Not everyone can work by a few emails/messages and send WAVs back and forth.
OSR: The album has a range of sounds from rock to jazz and funk, was this something that happened organically or was it planned?
Grindey: Interestingly enough, I entered guitar playing as a rock guitarist. Over time that developed, especially after spending a few months in Atlanta in their jazz scene. Hearing all sorts of musicians approach fantastic compositions with certain elements that perked my interest to go “how did they do that?” Once I figured it out or, ya know, asked them. I experimented a lot musically since returning to the UK and a lot of it ended up on the album. Some tracks I thought “well maybe if I tried adopting a two-five progression and turn the repeating four bars into eight”, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t and the rest is available for all to hear.
OSR: The album include contributes from Sonia D, Richard Jewer, Eric Rupert and Laurence Henderson. How did you connect with them?
Grindey: All stellar musicians and great people with great attitudes. Sonia D, you know I can’t really remember exactly how that happened. I remember Luna Keller included ‘Make Up Your Mind’ on her Indie podcast and I think from there. I really liked her voice and I had this track I was struggling to get stuff done for, thought “this is pretty close to her stuff” and so I reached out and the rest is ‘Someday’. She really captured the feel of the music with her lyrics and vocals.
Richard, I’ve played with a lot in the Southampton Jam scene and I tell you what, he is one of the best people I’ve ever played with because he just has a great ear and goes for it. It is never a dull moment to jam with Richard. Eric, I met at a gig in Southampton in early June 2019, hit it off immediately. He’s an incredible musician, a wealth of experience and knowledge that I truly am in awe of and his passion for music is truly inspiring. I met Laurence when I returned back to the UK and started going to jams in Southampton. He is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard, you should hear his stuff! Nothing short of superb both in playing and personality, a great friend.
OSR: If listeners could feel only one emotion from the album, what would you like that to be and why?
Grindey: Happiness. It’s what we all need right now, as we’re locked up away from our friends and loved ones. It’s easy to get sucked into a dark place but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
OSR: Is there a track on the album that holds a special place for you?
Grindey: Incredibly tricky to say! If I had to really think about it, I’d say ‘Nothing But Sweet Memories’ because I wrote it from a few memories and experiences that made me feel alive. I’m fairly confident that anyone listening notices that too, a creation where I was able to take what was in my head, send it to my hands and let the music do the talking!
OSR: How different do you feel this album is from your previous releases?
Grindey: Firstly, compared to Caught In A Storm, polished. Much, much more polished. While this was created relatively quickly, this wasn’t too rushed. There’s a lot more emphasis on synthesisers to add textures and there’s a couple of little bits scattered here and there on tracks that really add character to some tracks.
‘Someday’ is definitely a major departure since it’s less guitar-driven and more about the song as a whole rather than one specific part. As much as I really enjoy writing a good composition, I really do wish there were more vocals but given the circumstances and need for a release this year I think it turned out good, but I’m biased.
OSR: You released two single from the album, ‘Slam Town’ and ‘Fully Loaded’. What made you choose these songs for individual release?
Grindey: These were both tracks that, again, I was just messing around with. ‘Slam Town’ I had this guitar part I was just playing with and I couldn’t stop playing it. So I pieced it together and when it was done, I left it for a week or two, listened to it and thought “I have to release this”.
The same pretty much for ‘Fully Loaded’ but the major difference there was that it was one of those experiences where, as I was writing it, it just kept getting better and better (again, biased). When I finished it, originally it was almost 10 minutes long, so I spent a good week or two chopping it down and moving little things around. Once it was mixed properly and mastered, it just popped at me, totally different to anything I’d ever done at this point. As one friend put it “it’s energetic and chill at the same time”. It has such a unique character, it’s technically jazz!
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Grindey: At the moment, I keep saying I want to take a bit of a breather because I spent a long time working on another album. ‘Make Up Your Mind’ was set to be on that and there are 9 other tracks that still need to be finished etc, work was meant to re-start on that in April but Covid sent it to the pigeonhole. I’m still writing and I’m teasing myself with an idea of a blues EP or something to tide me over until things go back to a place where I can go into a studio with everyone and finish that album off. I really would like to get gigging properly, a few friends of mine (before Covid) asked whether or not that was going to happen but yeah it’s all up in the air. Stay tuned!