Myles Cameron is a 22-year-old artist who grew up in the suburbs of New York in a town called Rye in Westchester County. Throughout his years as an artist he has separated himself from the pack by constantly evolving and improving his already unique sound. His latest EP Black Sheep is evidence of that. In our interview we discuss how Myles got into music, his evolution from tape to tape, his influences and more.
HM: How did you get into making music?
MC : "I started writing songs in 9th or 10th grade when I was 14 or 15. Then Channel Orange blew up my conceptions of what songwriting and music could be and I just got super obsessed with trying to write something that made feel like Frank Ocean’s imagery made me feel. I was doing my own thing making beats and trying to record in studios with live instruments for a few years, and at the end of high school through Soundcloud, I met Frankie Scoca, who’s my producer right now. He's an equal part of Myles Cameron as I am, to be honest. We write and produce all the music together. I'll just bring him some cords and he'll just make the song in 30 minutes out of that, and then he mixes and engineers everything. I write all the lyrics and melodies and do the visuals and creative directing. I think it's been five years of working together now.
During college, I made it my goal to set things up such that I could realistically pursue music after school, and make money to pay rent off of it, and really dive into it as a career. Over the last 2-3 years of really hustling, I feel like we’ve really accomplished that. I’m very excited about the next phase of my life to be centered around music and to really go in next year."
HM : ‘Suburban’ is a big part of your branding image, why is that special to you?
MC : “Three years ago I was making this project called everwanted which was only released on SoundCloud. We put a few of the tracks on streaming platforms and one song, in particular, "Caged Bird," really caught a lot of traction, which was a big moment of leveling up as an artist for me both mentally and personally. Anyway, in writing that project I realized that being really honest in your art and your branding is the most effective thing as far as making the listener feel something. The songs where I was the most honest were the ones people responded to the most by far.
I decided to take that honesty to the next level with my next project, Lonely Suburban Blackboy. Being a black kid in the suburbs when I was growing up, there aren’t too many of you and it's always been one of the biggest sources of insecurity for me. Not being black enough for black kids or white enough for white kids. Just perpetual imposter syndrome. To me, there was nothing more honest than branding myself as a suburban black kid because I never even wanted that identity. I never liked it. It’s crazy though because the second you make something like that such a big part of your image and you write songs about it and release them, it totally gets rid of your insecurity around it. It did for me at least.“
HM : What influenced you creatively?
MC : “I think my music generally sounds like it came out of the things that really inspired me. Everyone has artists they like to say they listen to impress people because they’re trendy or obscure or something. But the things that actually move me the most are the things that get reflected in my music subconsciously, I think. Frank Ocean, James Blake and some moodier and more electronic Kanye cuts are that for me. Just some of my favorite music ever so it just ends up getting mixed into whatever I’m making.
I started out playing piano as a kid, but I wasn’t all that into it until I realized songs were built on chords and you could sing on top of them. So I just started covering John Legend and Maroon 5 songs. I’ve definitely got a singer-songwriter background and I’ve never felt the need to ditch that. I was doing it when it wasn’t cool and now that I’ve picked up a little traction I’m still at it.”
HM: Do you like your voice?
MC : “I think I’ve learned to love it. The first time you hear yourself you’re not going to like what you hear. I took singing lessons for a few months early in high school and they had me do this warm-up, record myself, and then listen to it back, and I was appalled. Through writing songs in high school and then college though, and through my college singing group, I got way more comfortable with it. Through that, I think I learned to love my voice. I’m almost more into being a songwriter than a singer though, to be honest. I think that’s the thing I can really become great at.”
HM: How did your relationship with Frankie Scoca evolve?
MC : “We’ve become really close friends outside of music, but I think for the first year or two, it was really just music. I was posting music that I was just making on my own on SoundCloud and somehow something that he had produced ended up in my timeline. I reached out to that artist, who's still a good friend of ours, and she told him about it. He listened to my music and reached out to me. We Skyped one time and sent some music back and forth. This was the summer I finished high school, so the first time I was home from college was the first time we hung out and worked.
We got in the studio, talked for like 3 minutes, recorded a track and that was it.
It's very creatively liberating to have somebody who's really good at the things that you're not. I'm good at coming up with melodies and chords, but I’m trash at making drums, my brain doesn't think that way. When I’m listening to music, I won't hear the drums until the fifth time I listen to it, versus Frankie will listen to a song and not know what the lyrics are even though he’s heard it like 50 times. We listen to music very differently and it works out in how we work. The things I bring and the things he brings complement each other. Which makes it easier for me.
I can write 30 songs for a project in three months versus writing five songs that I had to produce and engineer myself. The number of sessions we've done together, certain things are just unspoken, we can make a demo or full song in like an hour. Having been working together so long I definitely feel pretty safe and free to try whatever in the studio too. Being able to be vulnerable with creative partners is like the most important thing.”
HM : In the summer of your sophomore year, you worked at a record company, how did that come to be?
MC : “In the summer of my sophomore year, I was just spending more time on music and I was working three days a week at this record label. I would go to the city a lot and I spent a lot of time researching how artists got to where they are. I was watching every interview from Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, James Blake, Twigs, everyone that I listen to. I felt like I needed to know everything about them, their whole story. I went and listened to their early music to see how they developed as artists. One thing I realized was that in all the success stories of different musicians, one thing in common about everyone I really admired was that they were incredibly hard working. And so that was it, I was just going to work as hard as possible. That summer we made the 10 songs that were made up everwanted.
My back-up had always been if I can’t make music, I'll just work at a music company. But honestly, doing that sucked in practice. The job itself was fine, but for me, helping other people who I thought I could be just as good to do the thing that deep down I wanted to do was way worse than not doing it at all. I knew I needed to commit to making music and not helping artists who I felt I could potentially be better than organize their files.”
Myles on his song "Caged Bird"
MC : “It was the transition from the blog era of tastemakers to the streaming era of tastemakers. We made that song, I sent it to every blog writer I could find and no one posted it. Some people even wrote back to me to tell me they didn't like it. But Frank and I knew it was good. We had a few small-time industry connections, I played it for them, they liked it but didn’t help us push it at all.
I put it up on Spotify begrudgingly because I didn’t want to put up a song on Spotify and get no streams, I’d rather put it up on SoundCloud where I have a couple of followers and it’ll get a couple of thousand plays. Naturally through the algorithm, though it gained a lot of traction. That was a big moment of learning to trust my gut because we knew "Caged Bird" was great from the time we made it.”
HM : How do you feel you've progressed from Lonely Suburban Black Boy to the Black Sheep EP?
MC : “It felt like a natural evolution. Suburban Blackboy we definitely had a sonic pallet we were shooting for; we made playlists and mood boards of what we were trying to do. Black Sheep we started without a sonic pallet, without a playlist, without a mood board, without anything. Sonically it definitely feels more honest with the music that I love and what I actually want to make. Lonely Suburban Blackboy, we were intentionally trying to make a happy, poppy R&B project.
Black Sheep just happened.
I was definitely a little bit more just frustrated and feeling more lost when we made that project. The aesthetics around it are a little bit darker and slightly more mature, I think. Lonely Suburban Black Boy is sort of a character portrait of me in middle school.”
HM : What is one of the craziest experiences that you've had throughout your career in music so far?
MC : “It has got a lot cooler lately; I’ve been making music for around 7-8 years now and just recently things have started to translate into real-life which is sick. I played my second show in New York a few months ago in February. It was the release party for Black Sheep, we played one the year before for Lonely Suburban Blackboy. The one for Suburban Blackboy was in this little basement and 120 people or so showed up, which was already crazy.
This time around though, my manager and agent insisted on us booking this venue that was way bigger than I thought we could fill in Brooklyn called Rough Trade. I’d already been to a bunch of sick shows there so I was just hyped to be on that stage. Anyway, it was a 350 person cap and we sold out. Performing to 350 people was insane. It's cool to see the numbers when you have a million streams on a song, but for 350 physical people to buy a ticket and come to space...like they didn’t have to do that. They all expended mad effort just to be there.
I listen to a lot of music and there aren't that many artists that I would buy a ticket and physically travel to go see. The fact that so many people came out to see the show was unbelievable. I have invested so much into this, so much of my personal truth, story, emotion, and pain. I’ve already decided that my adult life is going to be centered around making music, so it's cool to see that people actually give a shit and I’m not gunning after nothing.”
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