In Conversation With: Miles Kane
Larissa Dunn interviews Miles Kane.
Miles Kane, known for both his solo career and a collaborative project with Alex Turner in: ‘The Last Shadow Puppets’, kindly spoke to me about Mario Kart, metaphors and meeting Lana Del Rey.
Larrisa Dunn: I feel as though there was an idealised view of lockdown as being a sort of extended writers’ retreat, or, for non-artists, an expectation to bake a lot of sourdoughs. What was your lockdown experience?
Miles Kane: I played a lot of Mario Kart. I completed every game. There is a fantasy that I would like to have painted, where it was like, you know, I’ve written a hundred songs and three albums. ‘Lockdown was great! I was really fit’ but it was the opposite—I went really fat and completed Mario Kart. I’ve had to work hard to get myself back.
LD: So the new album wasn’t written during the lockdown?
MK: It was written a bit before, to be honest. The tune ‘Change the Show’ was written at the start of lockdown, the news was on, and there was all this shit going on in America. Especially at the start of the pandemic it seemed worse than ever, everyone was banging heads and that song was written really quickly out of frustration and a bit of anger. I guess that tune has got quite a big meaning—it can be broad in that it’s also quite relevant today, but the other songs are more about my feelings and what I’m going through at the time. I’m pretty open and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. I guess what you see is what you get. I’m quite comfortable with being open with stuff so I try to put that into the lyrics and tunes.
” ‘Change the Show’ has a bigger meaning than that.
LD: So, it’s a metaphor?
MK: It started to be like ‘change the TV channel’, but I thought there’s a bigger meaning here. It’s more about changing your own path, or if you want to go down a political route with the things going on in the world, it’s like a coming together, but it’s got a deeper meaning.
LD: Since I’m doing a French degree, I was wondering about the French influence on your music?
MK: I think with France, I’ve always had this thing which has drawn me into them for some reason. Also, francophone artists like Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Dutronc (I did a cover of one of his songs once). There’s this one artist, Johnny Halliday—I recommend this new documentary that’s just come out on Netflix, honest to God it’s the best thing I’ve watched in ages. You should definitely watch it, he’s got some badass tunes. There’s just something about these performers that are ‘rock-n-rolly’ but they always look cool. There’s also a bit of a mod thing going on. There’s this tune called ‘Le Responsable’ by Jacques Dutronc, he’s a good-looking fella and there’s a bit of tongue in cheek as well. I quite like characters like that.
LD: How familiar are you with the UK modern rock scene at the moment?
MK: I’ve heard of Black Midi—I think that was a bit too out there for me. Yard Act are quite cool. I like Sam Fender, Youngblood, and there’s a band from Liverpool called Red Rum Club. Brooke Combe is also supporting us on tour. I want to discover more new bands, to be honest.
LD: How do you consume your music? Are you an old-school record spinner or an online-streaming guy?
MK: Spotify. I’m walking around with my headphones on.
LD: Are you seeing any live gigs this year?
MK: No. Well, I don’t know yet. I haven’t got any plans. I totally would, but most of my time is dedicated to being on tour this summer.
LD: How often are you a spectator at gigs? Who would you go and see if you had the time?
MK: Oh yeah! If I’m going to a gig I wanna see then yeah, I’ll just go. Stick me in the crowd! I did want to go and see Sam Fender, he played down here last Friday or Saturday but I couldn’t make it in the end, but that was on my mind to go.
LD: Is it a big pair of sunglasses in the crowd kind of deal?
MK: I’m not Harry Styles!
LD: What was it like writing music with Alex Turner? What was the creative dynamic between the both of you? A bit of give-and-take?
MK: Yeah. It’s like we get into this zone, especially on the first album which was all written in a whirlwind. I guess the process of the second one was a bit slower because we were older. I think we’re in our best flow when it isn’t overthinking and it’s just like rambling words to each other with two guitars and picking the best bits. It’s pretty old school, with a bit of a Beatles vibe.
LD: Would you ever tell him if you thought something he wrote was shit?
MK: He’s definitely told me! Yeah, you’ve gotta be comfortable with each other. We’re super close so you know there’s no offence. We’re trying to make it better for the other people and I wouldn’t take it personally.
LD: Looking to the future, I’ve seen you and Lana Del Rey have written some music together- what would that sound like as a collective piece?
MK: There’s a tune on her last album called ‘Dealer’ that you should listen to. It’s a bit like that. There are some cool tunes that we did write for that. It would be nice to finish them off at some point, yeah.
LD: I can’t quite picture how that came about in my head—how did you guys meet?
MK: Neither can I, to be honest. It was in LA and I was watching Jamie T. He was doing this acoustic gig and he’s my mate so we were going to do some writing afterwards. Anyway, she was at the bar there and we just started chatting and she was like “what are you up to this weekend?”. I said “Jamie and I are writing” and she said, “ah I’d love to hear that”. Then the next day she came round my apartment and started to write with us.
LD: That sounds like the dream; Lana Del Rey asking what you’re up to on the weekend.
MK: Yeah I definitely went red.
LD: Any other aspirations for the future?
MK: I’m just trying to crack on. That’s all I can really do, you know.
Sounds like the lyrics to a new song, Miles, and thank you again for taking the time to chat with me. Everyone else—be sure to check out Miles’ new album ‘Change the Show’ and catch him on tour right now!
Miles Kane’s ‘Change the Show’ is available now via BMG.