EXCLUSIVE – Miles Mosley: “I believe music comes from a spiritual and magical realm”
Miles Mosley is an upright bassist, vocalist, producer, composer and arranger. His album ‘UPRISING’ was released on Verve on April 7, 2017.
Today, he is the special guest of MentiSommerse.it for an interview.
What got you interested in Jazz music? How did you start playing upright bass and singing?
My parents were huge Jazz fans. My Mother named me after Miles Davis, and if it were up to my father I would have been named after Yusef Lateef. Either way I was going to carry a legend of Jazz with me my whole life. It was the music my parents played to relax, and to feel happy on the weekends. A lot of Oscar Peterson, and Pharaoh Sanders filled the halls of my home on Saturday Mornings.
I began upright bass when I was in middle school (age 13) and didn’t start singing until a decade later. I’ve always enjoyed writing songs, and playing the bass. Singing at the same time seemed like the best way to put my two passions together. It took me a little while to figure out how to split my brain into two different actions, but it’s a feeling that almost tickles ones’ senses when you finally get it right.
“Uprising” and “The Epic” have a strong spiritual component. What’s your relationship with God and faith? What is, for you, the “love supreme”?
I am a deeply spiritual person. So are my parents. The first book my mother gave me to read was the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I’ve been studying spirituality and its’ impact on the human condition since I can remember.
My mother is Jewish, and took me to Synagogue when I was in Los Angeles; my Father is Southern Baptist and would take me to church when we’d visit my Grandmother in the summers.
My parents always encouraged me to find my own way, and to choose any path that allowed me to be an honest, compassionate man of my word. I believe music comes from a spiritual and magical realm, and I enjoy the feeling of sitting beneath grandeur.
When you’re born in Los Angeles, California, you stare at the Pacific Ocean and all of its’ majesty; it contextualizes how insignificant our petty concerns can become.
Also, as a student of language, I have always been fascinated by how an idea, strung together by a series of words on paper can incite, soothe, and ignite humans to do unbelievable things, both toward “good” and “bad.” I like to think of language as something that one wields like a sword for honor or destruction.
How was the West Coast Get Down born? Is there a special moment of that project you want to tell to our readers?
The West Coast Get Down (WCGD) is comprised of a group of musicians that all grew up during the same era in Los Angeles. We’ve all known each other since we were little boys, and have been making music together ever since. It’s a band of long-lost brothers. Probably the most important moment for us all was Christmas 2015, when we locked-out a studio and recorded all of our albums at the same time. That was a fork in the road, the beginning of a new journey that would lead us into the global spotlight.
Do you remember your first meeting with Kendrick Lamar? Is there anything in particular that impressed you about him?
I didn’t work as closely on To Pimp A Butterfly as Terrace Martin, Thundercat, and Kamasi Washington did. They were the ones from our squad responsible for bringing that beautiful album to light. I was part of some of the last sessions before the album was released; where Terrace and Kamasi were putting Strings and Upright Bass on tracks to round them out. I’ve met Kendrick a few times while we were opening up for him on certain stadium dates, but I look forward to really being able to sit down and thank him for his contribution to the pantheon of Art from Los Angeles.
How was your last experience in tour with Kamasi Washington?
Kamasi and I have performed together since we were teenagers, so we tour really well together. We always have fun putting on the shows for the fans. Each show is completely unique and lives in that specific moment. The West Coast Get Down sounds like no other group I’ve heard, the places we go, the journeys we take with the music make you feel exhilarated. Meeting all the people from around the world and hearing how much they enjoy all of our albums, is a very special feeling. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share this music with everyone.
What are the top 5 records that have had a greater meaning for you and why?
Not in order of importance but a few of my favorite albums are:
– DON’T GIVE UP ON ME – SOLOMON BURKE: This album was the first production inspiration for my album UPRISING.
– SECRET WORLD LIVE – PETER GABRIEL: This is one of my favorite live performances, and I’m inspired by the tension Peter Gabriel builds into his anthems.
– HEJIRA – JONI MITCHELL: Joni Mitchell is my favorite lyricist, and this, I feel, was made at the peak of her experimentation and confidence.
– WE GET REQUESTS – OSCAR PETERSON: Everything I know about Upright Bass starts with this album. Ray Brown is a God.
– EXTENDED PLEA – TOULOUSE: This is one of my favorite albums released in recent times by an artist that not many people know. If you like MOSES SUMNEY, you’ll love this.
You’re working on your new album. Is there any anticipation you want to give us about it?
I’ve been working really hard with Tony Austin (WCGD/ Drums/ Producer) on this new album, and I think it’s my finest lyric work to date; it’s the first time I truly have a message. The music is big and bold, and sometimes even feels like a car chase! I’m getting new sounds that I’ve never achieved
on the bass before, and I don’t think I’ve heard anywhere else. It’s important to me to always push for something new and to challenge my abilities.
With this album I am definitely representing the very best I have to offer of myself, and I have been so fortunate not to have to cut any corners so far. I’m very excited to release this new album and to return to Italy as soon as possible!
Photo by Aaron Woolf Haxton