Barry Miles still can't stand to hear himself sing.
Unfortunately, the Chelmsford native is forced to hear himself from time to time, like when his debut single comes on the radio.
This fall, Miles had the chance to travel to Nashville to record a song with Sudbury's own Gil Grand at his studio, Grand & Gee Music. The opportunity came from a local singing and songwriting competition where Miles took top honours.
Since releasing the single You Oughta Know By Now, country stations across Canada have given it air time. Tracking reports have been positive and people are liking the dirty country sound.
Miles wrote the song himself after a terrible gig at a local bar. The setup and sound in the venue were so bad, the management asked Miles and his band to stop playing early and just call it a night. As he made his way out of the bar, a concerned patron asked Miles if he at least got paid for the gig. Miles responded by saying, “You ought to know by now it's not about the money.”
Driving his beat-up Ford back home, Miles started tapping out a beat on his steering wheel. Before long, the single was born.
The version he wrote that night wasn't too far from what is now heard nationally. It took a few tries in the studio to end up with something he was happy with, but Miles said the finished version sounds a lot like what he had in mind.
“I don't really want to play the pop country,” he said.
He made sure the team piecing the song together knew that and before long, “It started to sound like something” he could get behind.
“(The song) needed a little bit of a mean sound,” Miles said.
That was achieved when he did his own guitar part — there is nothing glossy or romanticized about it.
Putting out an honest sound is something Miles has always done. His music isn't glamorous and that's how how he likes it. Gritty, rough and stripped down is who he is and what he does. It fits hand in hand with his focus on writing honest songs.
“I try to rewrite them 50 times before I go back to what I had first,” Miles said.
Some of his favourite recordings are ones he did from home.
“The mixing wasn't there, but the song was,” he said.
And that's what matters most to him.
“It's really all about the song.”
Now that the 24-year-old has had a taste of the industry, he said he is going to ride out the experience.
“I don't have much of a plan, other than (knowing) I want to do it,” he said. “It's all pretty open at this point.”
He said he wants to keep to his ideas of the genre as much as possible, putting out music he believes in.
Miles is playing the Towne House Jan. 30. The show gets started at 10:30 p.m.
For more information, visit barrymiles.ca, or search “Barry Miles” on Facebook. His radio single is now available on iTunes, too.
What Jenny Thinks
At the start of the summer, Barry Miles and I made a deal.
We said which ever one of us became famous first would have to build the other a shanty by the river. Because, you know, lots of famous people want shanties. By rivers.
Barry and I grew up down the road from each other, with family properties backing on to the Vermillion. This summer, we both found ourselves living once again on Morgan Road.
I had the privilege of hearing Barry play songs like You Oughta Know By Now around beachside campfires on many occasions.
When we found out he was making his longtime ambition of making music a reality, the whole road was ecstatic.
Now, I can't help but smile from ear to ear when I hear his song on the radio.
Although it's a good start, I'm not sure if having a song on the radio qualifies one as “famous.”
I truly hope this is the beginning of good things to come for Barry — not that I really want to be stuck fastening sticks together in some sort of shoreline cabin — but because it is endlessly cool to see old friends find success.