An Interview with Miles Bonny

A creator of sexy, soulful sounds against smooth beat melodies, Missouri's Miles Bonny was recently in Australia for a rare tour, only appearing in Melbourne for one date, supporting Osunlade. The Kansas City-based artist has been making some of the best smoothed out soul on the planet and Melbourne was lucky enough to get a taste of his music. The 5 to 9 Life, on the other hand, was lucky enough to grab an interview with the musician.

An Interview with Miles Bonny
Photography by Jan Erting

I’ve only recently hopped on the Miles Bonny train (thanks to Ta-ku and this song), and I’m not ready for it to stop anytime soon!

It’s all about that voice! I cannot believe I did not know of his work sooner. The soul just oozes out of his voice and gives me goosebumps every time.

Bonny is currently living off grid in New Mexico, but in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, he was in Melbourne earlier this year for a tour, supporting the equally talented Osunlade.

The 5 to 9 Life caught up with him for an interview and this is what he had to say.

1. Introduce yourself.

I am a vocalist and flugelhorn player collaborating with beat producers from around the world. I love the world soul scene and my ability to contribute to that culture.

2. How are you enjoying your time in Australia? Did you have any expectations?

First time [here] and performance was great. Met lots of wonderful people. No expectations, just great times with Melbourne folks. I look forward to returning and playing more of Australia and New Zealand.

An Interview with Miles Bonny_2
Photography by Nicholas Segura

3. Your song with Ta-ku, ‘As You Sleep On My Lap’, illustrates such a beautiful story and it was hard to believe that it was one of the songs left out of your upcoming project with him! What can you tell us about the songs that were included, and the project with Ta-ku overall?

Ta-ku contacted me a few years ago and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. He’s a very talented composer. We started working on songs and soon had an EP. It’s a great sound that contained both samples and modern electronic beats. I’m proud of the songs I write aswell. I can’t wait for people to hear it.

4. Where does collaboration come to play with your craft?

I’m a born collaborator. My music is made for the listener and myself. That is a collaboration.

The songs themselves are often written to a beat composed by a producer first. So that is the second collaboration. I live art and culture and enjoy collaboration as a way to push my mind to create new ideas and lyrics inspired by the Beats. My latest collaboration is the album S3 – Supa Soul Shit, produced entirely by Brenk Sinatra.

5. Tell us what inspires you.

I investigate life. Modern world news, problems, solutions, social issues, my past experiences as a community based social worker, my experiences traveling, etc.

I want my music to feel like a warm hug that surrounds the listener because I know all of the bullshit that usually surrounds them.

My music is a break from that.

6. Your voice is rather distinctive. Are people generally surprised to see the individual behind that beautiful, soulful voice?

Yeah, they are. I get the “you sound like a black man” thing a lot which I don’t really care about because my goal is not to sound like a black guy, but to make the best music I can.

If people enjoy it for any reason that’s great. Most of the singers I love do happen to be African American though. 😉 Skin colour is a bullshit power game. Be real to yourself and you’ll be fine.

An Interview with Miles Bonny_3
Photography by Filip Blank

7. What was the first record that changed your life?

I can’t name one record, but “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis is absolutely beautiful to me.

8. Pay it forward: what’s the best advice you’ve received that you would be happy to share with others?

You cannot control what others do, you can only control how you react.

9. Any chance you’ll be coming back to Australia to visit the rest of the country (and to do a few shows on your own)?

Yes, I’d love to do that. Hopefully in 2014. I’m building a house in the High Desert of New Mexico during the rest of this year.

10. How do you want to be remembered?

As someone who spent time and energy contributing all he could to the world. All the while providing an alternative to corporate lies, fear, and deceit.

My music is honest and wants nothing from the listener other than for them to be themselves.

*Photography provided by Miles Bonny.