Rare Candy caught up with Brenna Miles (lead singer) and Eric Nizgretsky (songwriter/manager) in Williamsburg to discuss songwriting, their latest, self-titled EP, B.Miles, and the streaming world.
By Iga Szlendak
Rare Candy: The first tune I head by you was “Running” and I was immediately struck by how much of your identity shines through the track. How did that song come together?
Brenna: I was really single at the time. Eric and I were making a joke that I just couldn't find anyone that I was interested in. We were in Miami and Eric called me saying he had an idea for a song so we just ran with it. We wrote this song as a “wanting to want something.” Because our first EP, Twenty Fifteen, had been very black and white and we wanted to make this one more colorful. “Running” was a perfect segway into that.
RC: In an interview you did with Idol, you mentioned that “Shaking Hands” off of your Twenty Fifteen EP was inspired by the Aesop's fable, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." Why did you pick that fable as inspiration for your song?
Brenna: I was a big fan of Aesop growing up. My mom would read me those stories all the time as a kid. When you first arrive at college, you meet so many different people at once. I was comparing all of these new people I was meeting and it was funny because most of them would want to make themselves look bigger and better than they actually were. They would say things that weren’t true, and I directed that experience back to the Aesop's fables I grew up on.
RC: There is a noticeable difference in style between your first EP, Twenty Fifteen, and this new, self-titled one. Would you say that your experience writing this EP was different from the first one?
Eric: With Twenty Fifteen, it was the first time Brenna and I were writing together. The only way to really know someone is by really peeling those scabs away and cutting all of those layers. That’s the reason why it was a darker record. Once you peel through those layers, you are able to finally understand each other and through that you can see more of who that person is. The second EP is called B.Miles because we finally figured out who Brenna really was and the type of sound she was going to convey. Now, with that extra layer of confidence, we were able to step away from Twenty Fifteen in a way, and make it brighter and more exciting.
RC: With this newly found confidence, have you found a difference in your performance?
Brenna: I've become more comfortable. When we first put out the Twenty Fifteen EP, I was scared and timid of how everything was going to be perceived. Once we started working on the latest EP, it was kind of like, “I'm ok with this and here I am.” I feel it every time we perform.
RC: This EP is definitely more introspective. Have you gotten any advice from friends and family that has stayed with you throughout this process and that continues to resonate with you today?
Brenna: My mom's favorite line is, "You can't win the lottery unless you buy a ticket." To me, it signifies that you have no chance of reaching your goals or dreams unless you take a shot at it. I take that with me everywhere.
Eric: You know when Michael Scott from The Office says, "You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take?" It's really a Wayne Gretzky quote and he writes Michael Scott after it. I mean that's kind of what this project is. We're just throwing it on the wall, doing our thing, and figuring it out.
RC: By the way, congratulations on reaching ten million listens on Spotify! How does it feel to have this many listeners online?
Brenna: It's just surreal. "Salt" just took on a life of its own, and we are so grateful for how it’s been received.
Eric: It's also a definition for the type of industry we live in now. An act like B.Miles is able to succeed because of the digital age we live in. We put out a song and had no hopes for it but as Brenna said, it really took on a life of its own. Without the streaming world, an act like B.Miles doesn't exist.
RC: Streaming networks have been a great outlet for artists. What your thoughts are on services like Spotify and how have you noticed its impact?
Eric: As I said, we don't exist really without it. We played a festival in Cincinnati with acts that really know our music. That was a surreal moment for us. When you're writing a song in your dorm room, you're just doing it because a) it's fun and b) it's the only way to move forward internally. Then all of a sudden, people start to resonate with it. It’s insane because it’s all thanks to the digital age.
RC: Did you guys play together back in college?
Brenna: When we first met, we were only one floor apart from each other in the dorms. We wrote every song in Eric's dorm room.
RC: When did you realize that you could take this project from your dorm room and out into world?
Brenna: There was a welcome night when we first started school that allowed all of the new students to showcase themselves. Eric played a song and I immediately had to introduce myself. From there, we wrote a song and then we never looked back.
RC: What are your thoughts on how music is packaged and the way in which music is consumed - whether it be in EPs, albums, or singles?
Eric: There's something so romantic about putting together a body of work that coincides together and interacts with each other. The downside of the streaming world, though, is that people don’t give a shit about an album. They just care about that one song that they can throw on their own playlist. Nowadays, the interaction is between single artists and other artists, as opposed to songs between songs.
RC: Because your two albums emulate such different styles, where do you think your music is heading?
Brenna: I've never thought of B.Miles as this one specific genre. In our newest EP, we didn't want to be pigeonholed as just one type of sound. We want to take bits and pieces from all genres and create a synthesis of what we think is really creative and cool sounding.
Eric: Recently, I’ve been playing a lot with location. Right now I’m envisioning the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O was the New York queen for me as I was growing up. Her sound is just so... New York. That brashness and aggressiveness in their sound is something that you'll see more of in the B.Miles stuff moving forward. As Brenna said, we don't want to lock ourselves into a specific sound. We want to be able to do something like this and then be able to throw in an absolute banger dance track.
RC: You mentioned earlier that you're based in New York right now but were raised in LA. Do you think California influences what you're doing right now in New York?
Brenna: One hundred percent. There's such a different vibe and pace between Los Angeles and New York. When I first moved here, I definitely struggled because it's significantly faster and harsher. I didn't really know how to keep up. Now, I feel more comfortable here then I do in LA and I think that's apparent in our sound. Our first EP had a lot of western influences and we're still trying to keep a bit of that moving forward. New York is my new home now.
RC: Your Twitter bio mentions that you're a "dark energizer bunny confused with its place in the world." Is there a story behind that?
Brenna: Eric used to joke with me that I have a lot of goofy energy all the time. I think that especially in the Twenty Fifteen EP, which is very dark, that goofiness is not portrayed at all. We wanted to let people know that I’m not just this dark and gloomy person. There's a fun bunny behind there.
RC: Are you still confused by your place in the world?
Eric: I think that’s what B.Miles is all about. This whole project is about trying to figure out who she is and if I can help out on the way, I'm more than grateful to.
B.Miles is playing a show on March 6th at Communion NYC as part of their March Residency!
Snag tickets here: https://www.ticketfly.com/event/1633380-communion-nyc-new-york/
Listen to their music here: https://soundcloud.com/bmilesofficial