Miles Mosley Rises With A Powerful Debut
After years of steady growth as a musician, vocalist, producer, composer, arranger, and upright bass virtuoso, Los Angeles’ Miles Mosley steps in with his powerful debut album “Uprising” (release date: January 27th on World Galaxy).
The accolades Mosley has earned recently with his participation on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-winning “To Pimp A Butterfly” and Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic” have made his debut one of the most anticipated records of 2017.
Following the tradition of revolutionary records like Max Roach’s “We Insist” and Curtis Mayfield’s “There’s No Place Like America Today”, Mosley’s heavy soul/jazz debut feels like a soundtrack to a march.
Aptly titled “Uprising” it reaffirms the power of art in its ability to unite us all.
Lexis: After all these years of being a musician, composer, bandleader, vocalist how does it feel to release your first headline / solo record?
@MilesMosley: I’ve learned so much working with all the amazing artists that have crossed my path. To be able to take all of that good advice and put it into a collection of songs that means this much to me is a feeling that’s hard to describe. I’m elated, excited, and eager to spread the music around to the rest of the world.
“Uprising” is such a powerful record, both musically and socially. How does the timing of the release feel in such a politically charged time?
@MilesMosley: I have always believed in the power of words. The entirety of civilization has been built upon the strength and influence of the written and spoken word. This album tells the story of common human conditions.
The ability and necessity to dust off your knees and continue forward. We are not obligated to complete the work neither are we free to abandon it, this means our only choice is to brave forward. UPRISING is a particularly special word because it suggests that you need to work together with others to bring about change. Ultimately this life is all a team sport, and we all need to rely on each other to progress. I relied heavily on those around me to bring this album and its message to life, from the amazing co-production from Tony Austin and Barbara Sealy, to the un-matched talents of the West Coast Get Down, this album is it’s own Uprising, and will hopefully inspire others to find solace and courage within, and during these uncertain times of change.
I believe you benefited personally from music programs in the Bill Clinton era. How do you feel this administration will affect music and the arts in general?
@MilesMosley: As a kid growing up in the 90’s with an interest in music there were a great many third-party programs from which I benefited, in fact my management team consists of a gentleman named Bob Brodhead who spearheaded many of the programs that brought the West Coast Get Down together in the first place.
Music in schools, and arts programs in general have seen a steep decline since I was in school, and time will tell how this administration chooses to support or stunt those programs in the future, however I feel confident that in turbulent times art becomes a mirror to reflect the society in which it is created, thus, we may see a wider collaboration in the arts that helps to guide people emotionally. It’s the old adage of the diamond being forged through pressure and time. I feel as though I am part of a conscious community that will always seek the light no matter what abounds in the political sphere. We all must pay attention and stay present, and ensure that we give back to our communities in a way that provides support on a local level in the event that the arts are not federally supported. But I think one can carry that ideology to many social areas moving forward. Give back, stay aware, stay present, be kind.
You live in a country that does a FANTASTIC job supporting the arts, by the way. Applause.
Did you ever dream that the West Coast Get Down group (collective featuring Mosley and Kamasi Washington, Tony Austin, Ryan Porter and Cameron Graves) would ever acheive that level of collective and individual success?
We always knew we had something special. Anytime you put that many talented musicians together for that long of a period of time, magic happens. We are able to seamlessly navigate so many different styles of music, and communicate like a school of fish. We knew that it was only a matter of time before the spotlight shifted back to Los Angeles, and we were going to be ready to stand in front as representatives of our collective sound.
It wasn’t as much of a surprise when it took off, as one would think, it was more like the firing of a starter pistol. We have so much music ready to roll, all we needed was an opportunity. I think a lot of people feel that way about their lives. You know you have something positive to offer, you simply need the gate to swing open so that you can show your true colors and spread the light.
I heard the 30 day recording session that spawned Kamasi’s “The Epic” was also the same session that helped create your record, as well as Brandon Coleman, Cameron Graves, Ryan Porter and Ronald Brunner’s.
6 records? Could that be the most productive 30 days in the history of recorded music?
@MilesMosley: Ha! It was a marathon for sure. I’d have to do some research to see if any other collective has recorded 170 songs in 30 days, none that I know of publicly. It was a very special moment in time. We benefited greatly from a series of circumstances. It can’t be overlooked that without having Tony Austin in the collective, none of it would have been possible. He’s like our Danger Mouse. He is an AMAZING engineer, and producer, and was able to get everybody’s ideas down on tape accurately and quickly. I am a hyper-organized person, so I’m really good and excited to organize massive projects. It comes naturally to me. Kamasi is our wrangler.
Getting the WCGD in one room for 30 days is really hard to do, because our schedules are so crazy. I think we all realized, simultaneously, that it was time to invest in ourselves, and create a future outside of the “side-man” realm. I think everybody walked away with about three albums worth of material, not all of it finished, but definitely embarked upon. The coolest part of that experience was that each of us had unfettered access to one another, not only as musicians but as producers, arrangers, and as friends. If Kamasi was uncertain about a string part for the Epic, I could play it for him, and teach him about different bowings and articulations, and he and Ryan would help me try out different horn voicings when it was time to record my parts. We truly functioned like a collective and it garnered a beautiful result.
Any plans for a WCGD album one day?
@MilesMosley: It’s interesting that people ask that question, because in my mind, they are all WCGD albums. We have all dedicated everything we are to all of the work we’ve produced together, however, an album released under that name is definitely an intriguing idea, but for now we’ve got to get all previously recorded music out into the world. I think it will begin to shape itself as each member finds their footing.
On “Uprising” how did you manage to balance your technical virtuosity of the upright bass but also songwriting and vocal side of things?
@MilesMosley: I knew I wanted to make an album that was a “Singer-Songwriter” project, that also put on display everything I’m experimenting with on the Upright Bass. It was important to me that it didn’t come across as a “look at how fast I can play” type project.
So we (Tony, Barb, and I) discussed a series of theories that could help execute that vision, and set forth some rules. 1. The Song Is King. Whatever we do production-wise had to benefit and support the emotion of the lyric. 2. Keep It Honest. Everything you are hearing is happening in the room. No stacking or layering, just raw information captured with great mic placement. Everything is dry except for when this monstrosity of a bass shows up with distortion and delay, and fun ear candy attached to it. Executing that properly would ensure that my bass playing had it’s own avenue to run in, and thusly be prominently featured without seeming to fight for attention. 3. Sing from the heart.
We made a conscious effort to make sure that all of the vocals were intimate and honest. I sang the songs from the stand-point of lyrical power, and not any vocal gymnastics, or singing in a fashion that was not natural for me. I think people respond to that type of intimacy, and demonstrative behavior. It’s all on the table from song one, nothing to hide.
The record really sits on the border of Jazz and Heavy Soul. If you had to file the record in your local record store, which section would you file it in?
@MilesMosley: If I owned a record store I would file it under Soul.
Although I believe in the lineage of music, Soul and Jazz are family. To that end, I think Uprising makes for a very interesting addition to the lineage of how Jazz has oscillated throughout the lexicon of recorded music.
You will launch the record on January 28th in LA with a heavy lineup! How is the process of having these songs evolve from live shows, into a studio album then back into a live performance?
@MilesMosley: We have taken steps to ensure that the album release concert at the El Rey in Los Angeles will be a Goliath event. We wanted to to make sure that the first concert for this project was as grand sounding as the album itself. So we’re bringing all of the Strings, and Singers, and the WCGD on stage, at once, to light the fuse on the fireworks! It’s a massive concert to put on, at my level, but it’s worth every penny and hour of lost sleep to do it right.
Albums are like children, and the release concert is their first day of school. I’m always nervous during the production side, but Barbara handles the heavy lifting on that end, and Tony helps with the technical aspects of things, so I can focus on the show. The moment I put the bass in my hands and step up to the microphone to sing, everything becomes calm again, and I remind myself, that THIS is what it’s all for. To bring something special to the people, a respite from all that is around them in the outside world. Hopefully, everyone who comes to this show will leave feeling as though their hearts have been filled, and that they were part of a celebration, not just for me and my Uprising album, but for all of us in the room, and the choices we make to surround ourselves with positive energy, good drinks, good people, and our favorite dance moves! It’s gonna be one for the record books. I’m SUPER excited.
Well I cant wait to get that record on the turntable because I believe that’s how it should be consumed… front to back, no skipping!
@MilesMosley: That is my feeling precisely. Have you heard it all the way through yet? What’s your favorite song?
I loved the first two singles. Also “LA” and “Heartbreaking”, “Your Only Cover”.
@MilesMosley: Heartbreaking is one of my favorites. I really enjoyed tackling that issue lyrically. It’s such a common, messy, human emotion. That of making things worse by trying to fix them.
As an only child Your Only Cover comes from a very interesting place for me. I never knew what it was like to be inextricably tied to siblings, and have to love them unconditionally, to go to bat for them no matter how much they are aware of it. Until I met the WCGD, and found my band of brothers, people I would go to the wall for, forever. It’s a very emotional song for me, but the music is super aggressive. That song is the sound of brotherly love.
Thanks again for making such a powerful, inspiring, brave record. I think the world needed that!
@MilesMosley: True art will save us all. I’m grateful to have been given a gift that allows me to contribute to that area of humanity.Order Album