Music from the heart enables us to discover the underlying connections we have with each
Inspired by both “heaving clubs and the earthy melancholy of forests”, Joe Miller’s music bridges the organic and electronic worlds with the desire to create a distinctive emotional experience, whether that be nostalgia, mischief, or cosmic déjà vu. It’s this emotional focus which has had this English / Australian artist making waves through releases on labels like Dream Culture, All Day I Dream (with Jamie Stevens),
Translating this essence to his mixes, Joe’s eclectic influences are combined to fulfill his goal as a DJ: “To play
It was a pleasure to connect with Joe Miller before he takes the journey from Australia to America, and to discover what has brought him to the place he is today.
Who were some of the artists or DJs who first drew you into electronic music?
My older brother used to play me his cassette recordings from the local dance music station, Fresh FM. We tended to like all the guilty trance pleasures from the late nineties – Chicane, Tomski and Des Mitchell, interspersed with the Fugees and Cypress Hill. Then when I was twelve, I went back to England to visit grandparents, and our friend Samir lent us a minidisc full of Solar Stone and BT. Because this was before the time of ID3 tags, Sam had taken guesses on half the track names. And like all good older brothers, Pete invented elaborate backstories about the artists on there.
So a lot of what I knew about dance music was fantasy – all the real beauty of rave culture filtered through a twelve-year-old’s naivety. Agnelli and Nelson were a husband-and-wife duo (with Agnelli providing many of the classic vocal lines from late-nineties trance hits), BT’s most famous anthem was called ‘Shimmering Pipes’, and Ibiza was a pristine, harmonious sunset-world without a trace of British dipsomania – a bit like Narnia, but with better music.
A few years later, Pete and I worked out that the minidisc had been a rip from one of the Euphoria compilations, with CD 2 mixed by Agnelli and Nelson. We got them to sign it when they played in Adelaide, although it was slightly disappointing that they weren’t married.
Was there a moment when you knew that you wanted to pursue taking the music further in your life?
By the time I was fifteen, Pete had put me onto Northern Exposure vol. 3 and James Holden’s Balance 005. He bought some Numark CD turntables that
What were some of your early experiences performing like?
I started gigging when I lived in Adelaide, and there were only three or four underground venues, to be shared between dozens of producers and DJs who were far more talented and experienced than I was – people like HMC, the Carter Brothers and Phildo. So I played bars and pubs and birthday parties, and the main impression I remember from those gigs was one of compromise – trying to play underground music to crowds requesting Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry. I think that’s how it is for most beginning DJs in small cities, and in some
Today your sound is obviously much mellower, deeper and more intricate… when did you feel like you started to develop your “own sound”?
After all that trance, I gradually discovered musicians like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Nick Drake, then I had a Kings of Convenience phase and went on to hear Bibio and Sandy Denny. These artists were doing a lot of different things, but in all of
So that was the niche I wanted to explore, music with an electronic base but also a melodic character that was sensitive and acoustic, and which people could listen to and immediately feel as if they were starwatching or walking on a particular clifftop overlooking the sea. I don’t think I’ve actually managed to achieve this yet, but it was the aim when I was writing ‘Owl-Blind’ and ‘Borrowdale’, and it’s the aim with the new music I’m writing this year.
What do you most gravitate towards when it comes to the music you play? Are there certain qualities that you
look / listen for?
A certain timbre and texture, and music that sounds like it was played by a person. I don’t like to collect too much ‘functional’ music or bridging tracks – I’m more looking for songs with a distinct emotional stamp. And those emotions tend to be things like nostalgia, gratitude, resignation, a sense of mischief, cosmic déjà vu, wistfulness, and so on…
Where do you find yourself gaining the most inspiration lately? Has that source changed over time?
Musically, I’ve been feeling inspired when I listen to Powel, Jean Caillou, AL-90 and Simeon ten Holt (all relatively recent discoveries). More generally, I’m still inspired by moody nature times and the brooding atmosphere of Tove Jansson’s books.
Do you ever find that you struggle with creativity when it comes to your music? If so, what do you do to get yourself back into it again?
I come up against blocks very often, and I think this is something that’s happened more as I’ve started to
- Go for a walk, preferably with some birds singing/squawking nearby.
- Dig up unfinished projects, bounce the melodic and harmonic elements to audio, then remix them.
- Go to the occasional gig.
- Listen to audiobooks, watch old documentaries from the NFB, and look at visual art.
- Get some inspiration from listening to older artists’ life-stories – I like the Electronic Beats interviews and Rap Radar Podcast for this purpose.
- Push through the feelings of paralysis until they turn into something else.
What do you think is your most important role as a musician & DJ?
Could you share a favorite or proudest moment in your career so far?
I was very happy about Lee Burridge signing ‘Wanderjahr’, the track that Jamie Stevens and I wrote together. And I get a slightly bigger buzz from the fact that Dad’s been enjoying my music lately, especially a Jayden
Is there something that you most wish your listeners audience during one of your shows? Is there something in particular that makes you feel that your performance has been a “success”?
I spent a big part of my twenties at a tiny club called Cuckoo in Adelaide, and there was a feeling of togetherness and fellow humanity there – it was the sort of environment that encourages happy spontaneity. So I’d like to provide a soundtrack that makes people feel like that. The performance has been a success if people are smiling with their friends and going off on sneaky adventures.
How did you first get connected with Bespoke Musik?
After the release on All Day I Dream, I thought I’d like to play in the
What are you most looking forward to about your NYC & Miami shows?
I think it’s going to be a nice long set, which is fun – I’m generally happy to play until the last person is dancing. Rocky’s got an artist friend from Chicago who’s also called Joe Miller, and he’s going to live-paint a mural while I play the
And I’m very much looking forward to playing at Do Not Sit on the Furniture, a legendary Miami-based club which is also hosting Hoj and Gab Rhome this month.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Just to thank Jamie Stevens and Dani from Vision Hound for giving me music career advice… people like that really help to improve the ecology of the whole scene.
Listen to Joe Miller’s Bespoke Musik guest mix now: