A couple of years ago, I interviewed Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio for AnOther’s regular feature, Another Thing I Wanted to Tell You. Kyp wanted to talk about the then-unknown Brooklyn musician, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. He told me to check out Miles’s song Buriedfed on his Myspace page, which I must have listened to thirty times in a row, it was so mesmerizing.
In the two years since Kyp’s shout-out appeared in Another’s pages, Miles’s story has been a fantastic example of what can happen when you’ve got a ton of talent and a little help from your friends. His new album, Summer Of Fear, was produced by Malone and also received creative input from Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear. But you can read about that any number of places.... This isn’t an article, per se: it’s a visit. And last weekend I dropped in on Miles in Park Slope where he’s crashing at a friend’s apartment. It was one of the first genuinely cold days this winter, and I stepped inside to keep warm while Miles put on his jacket and his hat. The room was filled with books, albums, videos, musical instruments, and Miles’s portable typewriter on the desk.
After a few minutes we went across the street to get a coffee and Miles had a large one with an extra shot of espresso. The girl at the counter commented, Another already? Miles just smiled a boyish grin as if to say, Yeah, I’m kind of a coffee fiend. One thing you notice when meeting Miles is he's somewhat sweet and shy. However his music and lyrics reveal a man struggling with a love of life on one side and a deep anger at the injustices of it on the other. Perhaps Miles is just making great music, but that's how I interpret him working out this internal struggle through his songs.
A little later we walked to Prospect Park, where Miles says he likes to go to think things out. He tells me he recently got back from touring in Canada and the upper Midwest of America. This week, he says he’s planning to head to Portland to spend the holidays with his mother. Earlier in the year, he had tried to move out there to get away from some of the routines and bad habits that had marked his Brooklyn lifestyle. But the move didn't take, and he found himself returning a few months later. Having given up his apartment in Williamsburg, he ended up at his friend’s place. After the holidays, instead of coming back to New York, Miles says he might just head down to LA, play some gigs, meet some people, and maybe even begin work on a screenplay. Given that each of his songs is a beautifully written, emotionally poignant story about hope and grievance, love and anger, and finally, redemption, I believe him when he says he's got a screenplay in him. Even his name, the most poetic in music right down to its iambic rhythms, is well written.
He also says he loves the road and is in no hurry to return. Right now it's the place where he can most easily find peace and comfort, and avoid boredom and destructive behaviour. "Things got pretty bad there for a while," Miles says. "I was getting drunk before shows and would get messy with the crowd. Now I’m trying to stay sober, I’m working out more too, and am bringing more energy and physicality to my performances, which are really going well."
After the summer of fear that is the subject of his album, and the wild ride that has gone into making and supporting it, it seems Miles is looking forward to something simple and fearless: a warm and sunny winter in Southern California. Maybe we’ll catch up with him again in New York in the spring.
Derek Peck is a New York-based writer, photographer, and the editor and creative director of PLANET Magazine