Friday 27 June 2014

Myles Sanko: The Dream Becomes A Reality [Interview]

Myles Sanko's musical output in the last year alone has made him a genuinely shining light in an ever-competitive and burgeoning soul music scene.  Aside from guest spots with, amongst others, Ed Meme and Chris Read ('Oh Yes I Will' and 'The Magic is Gone' respectively), the release of Sanko's debut EP in April of 2013 has catapulted his stock – as I say – amongst a music scene where great music is certainly not hard to come across, so finding a way to soar above so much else can only happen with genuine talent... and Myles Sanko has it in bucket loads. 

A seasoned performer whose music has seen him grace stages across the world, including London’s own iconic venues Ronnie Scott’s and the Jazz Café – what the EP started, the release of ‘Forever Dreaming’ will complete.  'Born in Black & White' is seven songs of horn-heavy, cheerfully-rousing, blissfully sweet, soul music masterfully presented by an artist adept at commanding a packed dance floor with uptempo funk numbers like 'Don't Let Me Down', while still being able to tenderly whisk you away with ballads like 'Come on Home'.  Although there are enticing elements and characteristics of the speedy pace and hard beat of classic northern soul amidst his music, it's a technique that's only intended as a respectful tip of the hat to those who have come before and who continue to serve as inspiration (including Bill Withers, James Brown, Al Green and Otis Redding) – Myles Sanko's interpretation of soul music is wholly distinctive, unique and he offers a fresh-faced alternative worthy of your attention.

While 'Born in Black & White' was an independently-released digital-only EP, 'Forever Dreaming' will mark Sanko's official full-length album debut [hardcopies too!], which comes with the backing of awesome funk & soul label, Légère Recordings (themselves, currently riding high with releases by The Impellers and Nick Pride & The Pimptones).  Aside from the incredible label backing, support also comes in the form of an eager and fiercely loyal fan base, all passionate in seeing Myles Sanko’s efforts rewarded with the success so richly deserved.

Destined to be the soul artiste on every soul connoisseur's lips, it's a real pleasure that Myles Sanko took time out with us where we discuss his start in music, the release of ‘Forever Dreaming’, his incredible connection with his fans. 

We're proud to present our exclusive feature with Myles Sanko…

IMRAN MIRZA: What are some of your earliest memories of music growing up, and who were some of your earliest musical influences?
MYLES SANKO: I was born in Africa in the 80s to a black Ghanaian mother and a white French father in the city of Tema by the coast.  Growing up in Ghana was very magical and humbling at the same time, with every movement in life having its own rhythm.  I was surrounded by all types of music, traditional Ghanaian music, reggae, funk and a lot of soul.  My mother’s side of the family were very musically talented and I believe that’s where my love for music came from.  My earliest musical memories came in the form of Michael Jackson right through to Hip-Hop (De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, Tupac Shakur, OutKast), and then Soul (Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Al Green, Terry Callier, Joe Bataan, Minnie Riperton, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Syl Johnson), Rock (The Doors, Jimmy Hendrix, Black Merda Rolling Stones).  One of the artists that really made me want to star singing was Shuggie Otis (‘Inspiration Information’).  And the list goes on……!!!

Congratulations on the imminent release of 'Forever Dreaming' – can you talk a little about what went into the making of the album?
So it was simple, I wrote some songs with French composer Thierry Los, then I played them for a little while with my band: Tom O’Grady, Rick Hudson, Neil Cowlan, Tiago Coimbra, Neil Penny, Ric Elsworth, Tom White and Matt Mckay – then we performed them live for almost six months to you to see if they really worked, then I decided it was time to record them with sound engineer Chris Taylor (bass player from The Bays) at his lovely recording studio in Little Downham, Ely called the Bluebarn.

How would you say the process of writing and creating new music usually works for you?
God bless the smartphone!!  Well, I record melodies and musical ideas on my phone whenever I get them.  It doesn't have to be a full song or even a groove, I just record anything and everything that’s playing in my head.  The most productive time I found was when I am doing long journeys in my car.  I also write one/two liner lyrics in my phone’s note pad that I can use when trying to put a song together.  Ideas come to me every day and I just capture them to use on another day.

You must be thrilled with the success of 'Born in Black & White' – how would you say that release differs from 'Forever Dreaming'?
‘Born in Black & White’ was my debut to the world to say “hey people, here I am” and yes I am very thrilled with the reponse it got and is still getting.  ‘Born in Black & White’ was a self release but ‘Forever Dreaming’ has now been signed to a couple of record labels. The album will be officially released this summer on P-Vine Records (Japan) & Légère Recordings (Europe).

Before the album's release, songs have been released of your collaborations with Ed Meme and Chris Read – are there any other collaborations in the pipeline?
I am working on a few but one that I am excited about is with heavy weight DJ producer Mousse T Gündoğdu from Germany.

Who would be a dream collaborator for to either record or perform with?
I would have loved to have worked with any of the Motown Records artists or would have just been happy to sit in the studio and watch.  Currently, I am a big fan of Gregory Porter and would love to do a song with him, or just share a stage for a night.  Also, Vintage Trouble have something really cool going on and a number with them would be pretty cool I think.

You seem to keep a very open and direct relationship with your fans – do you think that has been important to your success and do you think that level of interaction is important in this digital era?
I would like to say I do music for me but I wouldn't be nothing without my loving fans.  I believe in my fans and they truly support me all the way. I am lucky to have such great fans and I always love to get them involved in my creative journey.   

What's been a notable musical highlight for you thus far?
The day I decided to become a full-time musician and follow my dream.

How does your music transfer to a live stage?
My music belongs on the stage and so do I – this is where I can share the true emotions of each song with my fans.  My music, without the stage, wouldn't mean much to me.  I live for the stage.

What song would you play to introduce a prospective new fan to your music?
‘High on You’.

And on that note friends, here's 'High on You', and just below that is an excellent teaser trailer for what you can expect on the upcoming 'Forever Dreaming'.

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