INTERVIEW: The Breathtaking, Beautiful Masterpieces of Miro
Monty Hancock, hailing from England, is the 20-year-old pianist and EDM producer behind the alias Miro. Arranging intricate piano arrangements with carefully arranged basses and synths, Miro makes listening to music a beautifully entertaining journey. Over the last few years, through features on promoters like MrSuicideSheep and collectives like New Dawn Collective, Miro has grown his following into the tens of thousands. Now, with the release of his third big EP, “Tapes”, he enters new territory on his journey as an independent electronic artist.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been immersing myself in music since a really young age, starting piano lessons around the age of 4. My favourite subject in school was music, studying music all the way through high-school it stayed my favourite subject, and now I’m doing my undergraduate degree in Music! I played the clarinet and the double-bass as well as the piano when I was a younger too. On the electronic side of music, I started producing electronic music in 2012 when I first heard Skrillex’s ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ (I know so many others were also inspired by this song too) and then I went through a cycle of different alias names until January 2015 when I started ‘Miro’.
Several years ago, you helped found the New Dawn Collective and you’ve released music alongside other artists on that collective ever since. Your latest EP, however, is an independent release. What went into that decision of releasing independently?
This is a great question. Nestor and Sam (the managers of the collective, two of my favourite people ever) have always been so supportive of my work and I am so grateful just to have them a mere Facebook message away from anything I want to ask them. They always give incredibly down to earth and sound advice.
New Dawn has recently transitioned from a collective into a label, and there is a fantastic creative direction that New Dawn has now, with some incredible new talent on there. However, I personally felt ‘Tapes’ didn’t fit into this direction. The decision to release independently was so I could have total freedom over how the songs were released online, as they expressed some important themes for me. I wasn’t too concerned with how good the stats of the EP played out, it felt more important for me to release these on my own because… I guess that’s one of themes of the EP 🙂
Which on that note, your new EP Tapes just came out earlier this week. What’s the story of this record?
‘Tapes’ has quite an intricate backstory. One late night in 2017 I was looking through my camera roll and thought to myself; ‘we document our lives and memories through our camera rolls now, this is how we tell the stories of ourselves to ourselves, almost like we can watch a tape of times we’ve had back to ourselves.’ So, that was the name, ‘Tapes’.
‘Vision (ft. Niti)’ is a testament to independence. Not allowing any negativity from anyone take influence the path you’re taking or to make you unhappy. I think the key lyric in this song is “All I can do is try to just be me as much as I can be.” That really sums up ‘Vision’ for me. And Niti did an absolutely incredible job with the vocals, she really is so talented. Massive plug for Niti – she deserves so much attention!
‘Serotonin’ I actually wrote in one night! I was actually trying to make a lo-fi beat, but then I just started trying to rap to it… and so I thought if I really want to get out of my comfort zone, why not do it? Using my own vocals in tracks has always been a real confidence killer for me, so it’s been so important to try and overcome it. The theme of Serotonin again was to stay confident in the face of emotional adversity. I think the lyrics of the rap are quite self-explanatory about the themes, and can probably be applied to more situations in life than you think…
‘Ashes’ was like looking back on what I’ve produced, and wanting to relive the sensation of producing melodic dubstep/chillstep, for nostalgia’s sake more than anything. I spent such a long time in the early days of Miro learning how to effectively use neuro basses in conjunction with piano, I think it produces a really unique sound. Again, I wanted to sing on this just to push me out of my comfort zone a little further. I think the main message for this song was not to look back on mistakes you’ve made or bad things that have happened to you linger. Learning lessons from the past to apply to your future.
In the past, you’ve done massive tracks with Slyleaf, Q’AILA, and Niti. How do your collaborations typically go? Is it something you work on in bits and pieces–like you send stems, they send vocals or instruments–or is it something you do in concurrence with them?
I’m extremely careful with what I want to convey in my music. When sending the tracks to whoever is singing, I typically sing on the tracks to lay down a draft for the vocalist to learn, and also send them an instrumental, and then they just lay down the vocals once they’ve learnt it. I have written all of the lyrics for every Miro track I’ve released (Q’AILA actually does an incredible job at using my original draft of the lyrics and then tweaking them to make them individual to her – Overwrite is a great example!) As far as collaborations go, I find collaborating really difficult, I think music is so personal… If I don’t collaborate with someone who has a similar frame of mind to me I don’t think it would work, that’s why I collaborate so rarely. Erio and I worked on ‘Glade’ together and I’m so happy it turned out the way it did, he’s a genius and was a real privilege to work with him.
Many of the artists today have other artists that influence their music. Who is the biggest influence for you and your music?
My influences are so widely ranged it’s almost funny! Lauv, EDEN, and Blackbear are just absolutely stellar vocalists and songwriters, huge inspiration from those three. Electronic producers like Illenium, Said The Sky, and Porter Robinson give such emotional feeling from their melodies and atmosphere. Also lo-fi artists like Idealism, bsd.u, and Jinsang play a huge part of where I get my inspiration from. I think I listen to lo-fi hip-hop the most.
VST, plugin, or instrument. Which one is your favorite?
Without a doubt, the Kontakt Library ‘The Grandeur’. It’s the piano I use in almost every single song of mine. It’s such a high quality instrument library which really gives an immersive sound! The Grandeur with Valhalla Shimmer reverb on it is basically the ‘Miro’ piano sound. For basses, NI Razor or Serum is the best in my opinion. Also, shoutout to Wavesfactory ‘Trackspacer’ – my personal favourite mixing plugin out there.
Your music has a particular texture unlike any other artist. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
I have this obsession with trying to convey that one ‘alone feeling’ I believe everyone feels at some point. That feeling where you’re wide awake at 3AM in the morning where you’re re-evaluating everything you’re doing, why you’re doing it. The sort of ‘sinking feeling’ in a way. My music is definitely sad, but I also want there to be a glint of optimism in there. I would probably say my music embodies something along the lines of “you don’t have to say you’re okay if you’re not.” In terms of genre, ‘Emotional Electronic’ would be too easy I feel… but it’s that sort of ambient/piano/neuro/chillstep combination? Heavy presence of piano for sure, I would call myself a pianist before I do a producer.
There are a lot of new EDM artists out there. What advice can you give those artists that are just starting out?
Don’t feel like you’ve got to hide what you want to express. That’s the key, in my opinion. You need to be able to evoke something for the listener, and it’s almost guaranteed someone else is feeling the same way as you are. If you manage to express your feeling through music correctly, people will hear that, know that you’re tapping into that feeling, and will come and listen again and again. Practically speaking, don’t get caught up in expensive hardware. And secondary to the music itself, mixing quality is so important – invest time in learning how to probably listen to mixes and practice, practice, practice!
So after this EP, and a tremendous 2017, what’s next for Miro? Any big plans?
I’d love to do more piano pieces, releasing ‘Threadneedle’ (my piano book) was so fulfilling for me. I also want to release more remixes, I get incredibly excited when I try and warp other artists songs into my own vision of what it could be.
Lauv’s ‘I Like Me Better’ is such a happy and optimistic song, one of my favourites of last year. But I felt like you can listen to the lyrics and interpret them in a way where there’s a little bit of loneliness.
The original words are “I like me better when I’m with you.” For me, it conveys when you’re together and you’re high in love and you feel like you’re so invested in someone else that they enhance you. My interpretation was ‘I Like Me Better when I’m with you,’ – trying to paint a “please don’t go, I like me better when I’m with you” sort of image. I promise I’m not depressed, I just love writing sad stories!
Where can those who would like to follow you find you on social media?
Anything else you would like to add?
I’m working on lots of music right now, I don’t want to spill too much, but there will be some genre’s you haven’t heard from me before! And more piano 🙂
Thanks for doing this interview, Monty. We look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
Already inspiring various artists, including myself, the future is looking very bright for Monty. I and many others are waiting in great anticipation for what’s to come from the melodic world of Miro.
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