Updated: Sep 20
Senior songwriting major Miles Squiers, though self-produced, runs on collaboration as he synthesizes hip-hop and R&B with hints of cultural inspiration.
Enhanced with love for the process as a true creative, Squiers spent the last two years laser-focused on producing an album with the help of fellow creatives. His collaboration in writer’s rooms and studios gives his sound a well-rounded interpersonal verve.
After a perspective-changing experience in Spain through Belmont’s Abroad program, Squiers is more inspired than ever before to produce and write with creatives from all over.
Squiers embodies growth and reflection with a pop infused flair by expressing themes of overcoming fear and evaluating the past through synchronized beats.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What is one of your favorite parts of the collaboration process?
Miles: I got to limit it to two. In session stuff I love. Of course, making music, I love. But I love just learning about the person I'm working with and getting where they came from musically. Like with all of their music recommendations I would have never checked out. The other part of it is when we get more visual stuff like when we’re working with James Gerrard or Luke Baker. Being able to take something audio-wise and transfer it to a visual story is always really cool. Especially since I need a lot of help with that, so seeing somebody else do it, I love that process.
What are three albums that inspired your artistry and style?
Miles: So, “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” just storytelling-wise, it’s just one of best loved albums around. It’s also just got warm production. “Currents” by Tame Impala. I think it’s really colorful which is why I [vibe] with it. It’s really all in the title. He’s going in so many different directions so well, but there’s a central story keeping you there. And then “The College Dropout” is, in my opinion, nobody’s ever produced an album like that ever, since Kanye. It’s rare that you get such a personality on an album where you understand fully where he’s coming from because he produced it.
What is your favorite collaborative experience?
Miles: One of my favorites for sure was the first song I recorded with Nai’a Rose and Eamon Hill. It was like two years ago. It was literally the first time I’d met Eamon, I’d known Nai’a for a little bit, but we were just chatting and then I laid down this guitar, then we had like two sessions afterwards on two different days, where I was just not [feeling it] at all. I was like, “This is not going where it needs to go.” And it’s ended up being one of our favorite songs, and one of our group’s favorite songs. And I can’t wait to put it out. It was like the start of something that led to a lot of music, so that’s probably why it’s my favorite.
What is your role in the studio?
Miles: It really depends on the day. Before I went to Spain, I’d say it was a lot more like pieces of things. I would be invited to a song-write at this session, or do the drums at this session, or just to offer harmonies at this session. Whereas now, it’s more like everybody doing everything. And maybe it’s because I understand my artistry better, like who to collab with more and who would work better. Eamon and are probably the most chameleon-type in our group, so right now we’re doing everything.
How did your experience in Spain change your view of music?
Miles: I went to Spain knowing that a lot of my past music had been really influenced by Spanish, or Latin American culture. I just had been around it, being from California, for a long time. So going there, I had this subliminal goal to just immerse myself in that kind of style. But I really fell in love with the culture there, just with the vibe and how people held themselves, how people dressed was all really interesting. On my new album, there’s a lot of Spanish influence in claps and trap... and there’s like three or four Spanish artists on there.
What makes a great producer?
Miles: So that’s a loaded question. In one word, I would say openness. Just because, I feel like as a producer, you have to oversee a situation and setting and then improve it and then build off that and make something. Like there are a lot of producers that think they’re good because they’re really technical, but they can’t control the setting of studio. They’re either too open and then the song’s going everywhere, or way to closed and they’re controlling it too much in a way that’s not giving an artist their comfortable space. The best producers make the most intimidating setting feel so chill.
Is there a part of the writing/ recording process that is more important than all the rest?
Miles: Concept is the biggest thing. The worst studio sessions I’ve been in, and I’ll be honest, has been in the songwriting program with Belmont because you have shy people, they come unprepared to a session with nothing at all. And that’s the worst thing you can have. That’s the biggest thing, if you can come in with an idea, a melody, a concept, a story, whatever, it’s gonna flow so much better.
What does the release of your next project look like?
Miles: It’s really gotten exciting in the last week. I’ll be honest, I’ve had three different projects I’ve been working on, we didn’t really have an idea what was going to come out first. And then I just pulled an all-nighter one night, and was just looking over some stuff, piecing it all together. I sent it out to my manager about a week ago and he really liked it. And I’ve been working with a few in-the-industry people, and I sent it off to them. Now it went from three projects that were really confusing to one project in which we got 20 songs now that we’re going to release as a two-parter.
PHOTO: Miles Squires
This interview was conducted by Emma Halloran