10 Questions With… A series that delves into the musical careers of some of our favourite artists, local and afar. With a particular focus on our Melodic Distraction friends and wider community, this lil natter gives us an insight into their musical escapades when they’re in their studio, not ours.
Following the release of his latest album 'Desquamation (Fire, Burn. Nobody)' on The White Hotel’s off-shoot label HEAD II, we dive headfirst into the fascinating world of Rainy Miller. Bringing together ambient, experimental soundscapes with the Northern grit of a Prestonian living in Manchester, this is music that well and truly puts Preston on the map. With the likes of fellow Preston natives Blackhaine, Henzo and more, the Fixed Abode founder is part of an exciting bubble of artists who have created a space and sound all of their own. Having just finished a small UK tour alongside the LP being selected as Afrodeutsche's BBC 6 Album of the Year, we chat with Rainy Miller about the making of 'Desquamation', producing with a Singstar mic and more...
Hey Rainy, we love your latest LP ‘Desquamation (Fire, Burn. Nobody)’, out now on HEAD II. Can you tell us more about the ideas behind it?
The LP was originally meant to be a 4-track EP. I think the idea came just before or during lockdown? I’d been chatting with HEAD II about a follow up to Blackhaine’s ‘And Salford Falls Apart’, coincidentally at the same time as being offered some bar work there. Over time, the record became a process about the shedding of older tropes and motifs. The record only ended accordingly when it felt natural, which was quite a bit down the line, and when the desquamation itself had become full circle.
Who were you listening to a lot whilst making the record?
I was being shown a lot more leftfield music around the earlier stages of the record. I found myself obsessed with a lot of the Gigi Masin and Charles Hayward pieces they’d made together just before I had started. I loved the melancholy and the use of silence and dynamics, but was also making a lot of music with Blackhaine, Croww and Space Afrika. I was also listening to a lot more bands from the noisier spectrums of the experimental scope, like Coil and Throbbing Gristle. I think a lot more subconsciously at first, but the raw power they generate held me. I can’t lie though, Space Afrika’s ‘hybtwibt?’ instantly just threw me. I got obsessed with the way they created and that was a catalyst for me. Of course all the usual tropes too, lots of drill at the time and hip-hop from the States, etc.
How did you first get into music?
I was a grime MC when I was around 11 years old. Most of Preston was from 2006 through 2009 really. That gave me my first forays into music and the technology around music production. I remember buying a Behringer C1 condenser microphone and thinking I could just plug it into my friend's computer. It was my birthday present from my mum. I was devastated when it turned out that you needed a soundcard, so we used SM58s and even a singstar mic that was part of a playstation game.
Would you say your sound has evolved much since debut album ‘Limbs’? If so, how?
Yeah of course, the sound has changed and evolved an awful lot. I think I just have more of an understanding of musicality now and have managed to shed a lot of the objectivity I had. My first love was football, so moving from something so objective based where you either win or lose, to something purely expressional, meant I had to learn an entirely different language within participation. That’s taken me an awful long time, to just become subjective within music, and not to demand a right or wrong answer.
Born and raised in the mighty Preston, has your upbringing had much of an influence on the music you make? If so, how?
It’s everything to me. I create by taking things intrinsically and then using them as a spool almost to develop context and work. I am in love with the Northern identity, whether that be right or wrong. But I'm also in love with exploring and documenting the regularity of Northern England. Not everything is the absolute worst of the worst. There’s so much nuance within the working class experience. I’d rather steer clear of the more fetishised versions of it for myself and just tell the mundane and honest fringes of the places, like Longridge and Preston where I was raised. I think that’s the interesting part for me, the honesty in mundanity.
‘Desquamation (Fire, Burn. Nobody)’ sees collaborations/features with Rose A, Blackhaine and Moseley. As a solo artist, what’s the best thing you get out of collaborating? Any challenges?
I think the one thing I've always loved as a child when watching musicians was the curatorial element. For me, and I know the timing isn’t phenomenal with this, but retrospectively, Kanye West, I revered for the curation of collaboration on his projects. To me, that’s why he’s the best when it comes to contemporary music. He always had his or his team's ear exactly on the pulse, and put people on songs that pushed them out of their comfort zones. Chief Keef on ‘I can’t hold my liquor’ is a masterstroke. Bon Iver all over the records is a masterstroke. I love the results when artists are forced to blend into one another. The challenge is making it work and once you do, the result, 9/10 times, is pretty remarkable for one reason or another.
Can you tell us more about Fixed Abode and the ethos’ of the label?
Simply put, it’s a forever home. For the artists and the cohort I find myself surrounded by or respect, if they so choose to need it. It’s becoming more of a creative umbrella to me.
Your live show is truly unique and immersive. How do you use performance to connect with your audience?
I think, primarily, I use it as a way to connect with myself. It’s the one time and place I get to be as foul, upset, happy, sad, appreciative, aggressive and most importantly, brutally honest with my feelings. I’m just lucky enough to be able to do it under the guise of “performance”. Once you decide that performance isn’t this daunting “show” for other people, it becomes the most liberating experience you can ever have. And I think that’s why people are naturally attracted to it. Because it’s rare to be able to view raw and honest vulnerability for the price of a 10er.
What was the last record you bought?
Richie Culver’s ‘I was born by the sea’. Had the pleasure of meeting him recently, an insane human being. Utter gem of a fella.
What do you have planned for 2023?
I think, consolidation for myself. I want to have a big impact the year after. I need to figure out how to get these records out to the world, and not just the echo chamber. Hopefully I'll do that this year.
'Desquamation (Fire, Burn. Nobody)' is out now on HEAD II both digitally and on vinyl - cop it below. And for any Preston heads, get down to the Fixed Abode party at In:Libra this Friday! Tickets here.
|| RAINY MILLER ||