Originally from Pennsylvania, but now calling Nashville home, Morgan Myles is preparing for a big year. A true triple threat, Myles sings, plays guitar and co-wrote all of the songs on her new EP, Miss Morgan Myles due January 8th. The EP, which has already caught the attention of Music Row Magazine, blends country, blues and soul into something refreshing and undeniably unique. In anticipation of its release, Myles graciously took the time to chat about new music, the stories behind the songs and her personal journey of growth over the past few years.
You graduated with a degree in music business. Did you initialy see yourself in another part of the industry or was performing something you always wanted to do?
I went to Berklee College and was a performance major my freshman year. I had an opportunity in Nashville, so I transferred to Belmont and chose to get a degree in music business because I felt it was important for me, as an artist, to understand what I needed to do in order to be successful.
When did you start to hone in on the country soul sound as you had previously released an alternative-rock project with the legendary Vance Powell.
It definitely took time to find my sound. I grew up in Pennsylvania and was this little girl with this really big voice. It didn’t matter the genre, I would sing anything from Mariah and Celine to Faith Hill, Trisha and Reba. When I started taking guitar lessons around age thirteen, my guitar teacher, Dave Brumball, heard all of the soul in my voice. He had me learn guitar with the blues, which is obviously the easiest place to start learning from (laughing). He was like 'Here’s Janis, here’s Bonnie Raitt' and all of a sudden I was like ‘Whoa.’ That’s when I really got into all of that and found a respect for history and music other than what was being played on the radio.
For me though, it goes further than music; it’s about what you want to say as a person. Put music aside and we’re all just human beings trying to figure out what really drives us. As a writer, performer and musician you have to tell a story in three minutes so you have to think about what you want to convey and to be able to say it authentically. It takes a awhile to get to that place, but it takes awhile to mature as a human being. We’re all still growing and knowing how to confidently express feelings and tell a story takes time.
The new EP, Miss Morgan Myles, which is due January 8th, definitely has some stories to tell. Did you write from personal experience, the experience of others or something else?
Oh definitely personal experience. I am a wear your heart on your sleeve type person and for me, it’s very important that when I’m singing a song - especially live when you’re going to perform it 100+ times - I have a really good reason why I want to sing it. I have to go back in my mind and think about what I was feeling when I wrote it and convey that emotion with conviction. One of the songs, “Whiskey Dreaming,” I wrote right after I had my second knee surgery on my ACL. A guy I was seeing didn’t call me or check up on me until three days after, at like 3am, and I was like ‘No.’ “Queen of Hearts” is a sad love song also about my disappointment in his reaction. In my mind, you don’t need money or things in a relationship, but if you don’t have the instinct to take care of someone when they are in need, something which is completely free, that’s when you know; if they can’t come through in hard times, then it just won't work.
That's a very personal experience, but also very relatable to many women, which is why people will be drawn to the songs on EP.
One song you mentioned, "Whiskey Dreaming," has been featured on CMT, Music Row, and Taste of Country. It's gotten alot of support even before the EP is released.
I was pretty amazed! It’s cool that people love “Whiskey Dreaming,” but the EP all together is so much more. I love that song, but songs like “Nobody Better Than You,” which I really love, go so much deeper. It's not just a love song; it describes the way every woman wants to feel love. You get to the point where you know many different types of love, but the one kind we all yearn for is when a woman feels complete in a tee shirt with no makeup and when he looks at you, you just know; you feel beautiful and confident and that’s that song. Even though I don’t have that yet I know it’s coming (laughing). Every woman who hears that song will relate, and if they don’t relate to it yet they’re not old enough! (laughing)
"Nobody Better Than You" is the closing track on the EP. Was that intentional?
We tossed and turned over different endings, but I think it ending with that song felt right. It has that key change in it, which is my cool throwback to 90’s R&B female singers, and I think it ends really strong…what song could follow that, you know?
For sure, it's my personal favorite. What is the signifigance of the title and cover art of the EP?
The artwork shows four pictures of the many sides of females, from the very emotional, sensitive human beings that we are to the fun loving, goofy and confident people we are as well. I want it to say, ‘Hey you can talk to me. I’m a friend just like you.’
There are a few reasons I called the EP Miss Morgan Myles. First, the word Miss in the southern world and in country is a very feminine, fun loving, conservative type title. Miss in the R&B world is like ‘Wow, this girl can sing and put on a show.' So, I love the two dimensions of that, but is goes even further with me because for the last ten years, as I have been trying to make my way as a musician, I have been a nanny. The kids, who lost their mom Amy to ALS, called me Miss Morgan. This Miss before my name is something prideful; it shows my growth as a woman.
There’s been a big difference between me now and three years ago. I hadn’t lost anyone before and in the matter of a year and a half, I lost my two grandpas and Amy. When you lose someone who is such a big part of your life, it leaves huge holes in your heart. And Amy being only forty-five and living with ALS on a daily basis, she was always encouraging me to follow my dreams. I think in a way I was like this bundle of young energy and she was kind of vicariously living through me during that horrible time in her life. She made a huge impact on me. I would get down on myself and then I’m like 'How can I ever get down on myself? I’m following my dreams.'
After she passed away I ended up meeting a great producer and we shut the door to world. We didn’t let the industry dictate what we did, we just sat down and defined what I wanted to say, how to say it and the sound it was going to have. The sound is different, but it’s me and finding that is sometimes hard to do. Honestly, I have been here for almost ten years and what often happens is that you want to make whoever happy in order for your dreams to come true, but at the end of the day you realize it’s not about the people in the industry. It’s about the people buying tickets to the show, listening to the music and following you on twitter; relating to those people because they are the ones that matter. You have to get to that point where you realize that guy in the suit doesn’t control your future--he’s defintely going to help (laughing)--but if you gain by being authentic and genuine to the people out there listening to the music, I think that’s the big piece.
And listeners can hear that in an artist's music.
There are a lot of really strong females on radio and more if you dig a little deeper. Your mix of soul, blues and country with that retro flavor is something that will set you apart.
I’m hoping! I really feel like Country listeners are really embracing soulful voices and sound because before it truly didn’t. Now people are yearning for that soulful sound which is wonderful because I can’t hide from that in my voice. So the fact they’re coming around to it is like 'Wow this is truly the right time' ….and I’m ready! Now is the time to see what the verdict is and I'm excited to get the music out there!
Now that 2015 is ending, was there any one thing that was a highlight for you?
Oh my gosh it is hard to know what was a bigger moment than rest! We played cool shows in the Northwest as well as some festivals. And this year, I've gained so much respect in the industry; so many milestones have started to happen. I can see that this time it is going to be different.
While all of this is really great and I hope to do it for rest of my life, the biggest thing to happen family wise was that my cousin was diagnosed with brain cancer at 29. I wrote a song called "I'm Right Here," which isn't on the EP but will be coming out later. I wanted to write a song of love and family about the kids I nannied and all of a sudden this came crashing on the family. We had alot going on in the family and I had to go in and record this song. I went in and sang the vocals and nailed it one time through, which never happens. It was just a very special moment and the song is now my mom's favorite.
So many cool things have happened with my career and I can't thank people enough, but I have learned that you have to live each day to the fullest because you never know when something can rock your world. With my cousin's cancer, things got so real, but that made me even more motivated to push further. Grandma said that I was representing the family. She told me 'You're the one that can keep this family happy, keep things exciting and new and make the family proud.' That changed my outlook. I knew that if I could succeed, then I'm succeeding for everyone and that brought out a positive situation in pretty difficult storm.
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