She blew our brains out with her recent Boiler Room set in Melbourne, her label 99CTS continues to release the grittiest of club bangers – perfect for the dance floor – and her radio shows? Well, in all honesty, you’d be a fool to miss ‘em. Miley Serious represents something much bigger than her output and formidable set style, and after nesting herself perfectly into the club culture sphere, it is clear to see that her care, devotion and service to keeping underground music thriving is second to none. It is apparent throughout everything she does.
With a beast of a European tour and an exciting London show looming, it was time to bring her in for questioning.
Miley! I feel like your life spans across so many exciting geographical locations. What’s the set up?
I’ve been in New York for 3 years because my husband is American but we both tour a lot so we have to frequently fly back over to Europe. I’d say we do a 50/50 split across America/Europe, mainly split across New York and Paris, which I love.
Two really beautiful places to be situated. So your partner is an artist too?
Yes! He’s a drummer in a hardcore band called Jesus Piece but he’s also a DJ/Producer called LU2K. I met him through his electronic name but also because I was a big fan of his band too. We have the same schedule which is helpful, as we both really understand each other’s work. It’s much easier – as an artist – to be with someone who understands what it means to tour too. Of course, it’s hard when we’re both separate but at the same time, we’re so fortunate that we can meet in different places in the world. For example, when I was touring in Australia, he was touring in Australia, so we met up there. We can plan touring together too. We take it as a great opportunity.
There must be so many things that only touring DJs know about, that you can support each other with too, right?
Absolutely. He knows and understands what I’m going through. When you’re really drained or sad or super happy after a gig, it’s good to have someone who understands that exact feeling. Although, being in his band is so much more than being a touring DJ because they have the load-ins and load-outs too. When I jump on tour with his band, I fully see the pain they go through! It’s hard work. We have a lot of understanding for each other and that’s great because this work can be tough.
Definitely. What are the challenges that you’ve faced as a DJ, that you perhaps didn’t consider before you started out?
Probably the lack of ‘me time’. If you’re a DJ, you definitely want to try and find some time for yourself. Touring is essential and you always need to be on the road, but really, it’s your downtime and the quality time spent at home that is so important because it balances things out and if you’re happy, you’re better at your craft. Of course, loneliness is hard too but there’s always an end goal, and if you’re going home to someone too, that’s the best feeling. You just have to be patient. I feel like every time I’m back home, I’m in tourist mode. I’ll be like ‘Oh my god, I want to do this!’ or, we climb a lot, so we’ll be like ‘Let’s go climbing more!’. When you go back to a normal life sort of schedule, it feels really exciting. But then the chance to be able to tour too is equally as amazing. Once you’ve been home for a while you’re like ‘OK, I’m ready to go again now!’.
How do you balance everything that you do as an artist with the label work? Do you have a team of people?
No – I’m all by myself. It’s just me. I’m alone with that which is very hard sometimes because I try and put myself on a 9-5 window with my label. I do everything by myself, everything from organising, shipping, promos and doing the artwork. I now have someone that helps me in terms of promoting the music but there is no one else. I love it though. I’ve done it on my own for such a long time that I don’t know how to share the tasks… and now I’m stuck!
I guess you could get more help eventually. The thing is, it’s your baby! There must be a lot of things that are important for you to do, in order for it to keep its identity.
There are definitely opinions that I won’t hear from other people for sure. Like you said, it’s my baby so it’s hard for me to be open to new ideas. I’d like to make it more efficient one day, and I’d love to make it on a bigger scale, but it’s so homemade. When you start something from nothing and it ends up being a global business, it’s hard to let it go and let others into your workspace.
Looking back, what were the integral things you did that got 99CTS to where it is today?
I had a good support network that supported my vision. I feel like I was so lucky to have feedback from Rinse and DJ friends who tried to help me figure out how it would work. I had feedback from professional people and that was super helpful. Because of them, I knew what had to happen when I had a release coming out. I knew the steps. I’d say if you wanted to start a label and you already work in music, use that to help you, ask for feedback and listen to people around you who have been through what you’re going through.
It’s a very experimental label. Once upon a time, people sort of stayed in their lane, but nowadays, genres are very mixed, which is great…
Everything is more open now. If you think about us as human beings, it’s really boring to always do the same thing. Music is so large. I don’t know if I’d just want to stick to one thing for the next 10 years. You can specialise in something, for sure, but that’s different. I think it’s a case of do you want to stay on the same path or do you want to be varied. It’s each to their own.
Were you always very eclectic with your sound or have you come to this realisation over the years you’ve been in music?
Always eclectic – yes – but I would start with a certain type of music, then I evolve. It’s because of the surroundings and the people around you, the things they teach you. My brother was very into drum & bass and I didn’t understand it, but then I did. Then, when I started my label, I was really into some artists and wanted to promote them but as we evolved, the scene evolved. I want to be hand in hand with the scene at all times. I feel the underground club is so open-minded that you can definitely have a rap song in your set if it works well. This is what I do with the label, I go with the flow of what the up-and-coming artists are doing. I want to represent the scene, I want to be as close to it as I can be.
You can really feel that when you listen back through 99CTS back catalogue. Totally representative of the rave.
Thank you! For example, I had a release out from a producer called KAZUHO years ago. It’s a very dreamy jungle track. Almost like it’s taken from a game soundtrack. Which is funny now because that sound is so big on TikTok. KAZUHO was so ahead of his time in that respect. I was really happy we put that out when we did because it’s amazing. My favourite part of running a label is believing in the artists and the tracks and saying ‘I want that and I know it’s going to do well and make the scene move and stay interesting.’
Love that. What artist makes you feel like how you want your audience to feel?
It’s crazy because I’m really proud of my close friends and the scene surrounding me. For example, when my husband DJs, there are things that he does that I don’t know how to do, and that impresses me. My best friend O.XANDER is an amazing Trip Hop, more ambient DJ and I wouldn’t do it the way he does it. And so, I’m inspired by them. I take inspiration from the people around me. In terms of big names, that’s very hard to answer. I’ll be honest, as I’ve aged, I want to be myself so I focus on what I’m doing. 10 years ago? There were absolutely people I could reel off people and I was so driven by them, but now, I think I’m just amazed by the talent of people around me.
Gotcha – so you’re protecting your artistic individuality?
Exactly, so I’m less influenced in my head. I can really focus on my output being exactly how I want it to be. Club music has such a big history so my sets, for me, are made up of music I’ve loved personally for the past 20 years. I want to feel totally happy that they’re based on what I like and want to share with the world. I think of a DJ like being a teacher. I’m not a producer so it’s important to me that I’m representing the best of club culture. I want people to learn and if they do, my job is done. That’s my goal.
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By: Laurie CharlesworthTitle: In Conversation With Miley SeriousSourced From: ukf.com/words/in-conversation-with-miley-serious/37542Published Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2024 15:53:53 +0000