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Ian Miles: “If Something Comes Out Of You Naturally, That’s Where Good Art Lies”

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 18 October 2021 at 17.20

A dive into the making of his debut solo album 'Degradation, Death, Decay'.

Ian Miles
, best known for his work with Creeper, has just released his debut solo album 'Death, Decay, Degradation’.

A collection of hauntingly beautiful and dark acoustic numbers dripping in rich atmosphere that have been with Ian for the last three years, it is a glimpse into the very core of the human psyche. Heartbreaking one minute, shocking the next but always rooted in honesty and transparency, it's clear how much it has taken for Ian to want to share these compositions, and it is a pleasure to be able to consume and learn from them. Because between the desolated storytelling and white knuckle fury, there is hope, and hope is always there for those who need it.

To find out how this was all put together, we sat down with Ian to discuss how he set about building a very personal and poignant world...

So, where did this record stem from? What are its roots?
"The thing is, I have always written music, ever since I was a kid. I started recording my acoustic stuff a long time ago, like in my early teens. It’s pretty nice in a roundabout way because the camera I have been using to film the videos for these songs is the same one I used to record my songs for the first time. I didn’t have a microphone or anything. I just pressed record without worrying what it was pointing at and took the audio. But I didn’t ever think I would do it to this extent because I’ve never had the confidence to pull it off. I’ve had these songs with me since 2018, in some cases 2017. I’ve been sat on them and doing what artists do with their songs, listen to them over and over and over again. I’ve done it with Creeper, and I’ve done it with my work. But I ended up sitting on these too long. So this is a collection of songs that I have decided to weave together to become a final product, and that’s what you hear here."

In terms of that period as well, it’s a point where you were exceptionally busy with other things, but the result of you stepping away from that and having your own time resulted in a collection of songs such as this…
"I feel like the two projects, Creeper and this, are rather reflective of my personality. There’s the bombastic-ness and over the top theatrics that represents a side of me and a side of everybody else in the band. But then it’s a spectrum, isn’t it? There’s a thing that everybody talks about when they come home, which is the post-tour blues. Reality sets back in, and everything is still and quiet, and those are the moments where things start to come to you. It can come in the form of a melody or a nice chord pattern, and I will embellish it. But together, the two things make a happy medium."

And perhaps, the more that one side gets attention, the more personal the private side gets. Are there moments where you have been shocked by what you’ve produced on that side of things?
"It’s always in hindsight you feel that. It’s never in the moment. At the moment, you’re writing a dream of what you feel in a way. A fluffed up and exaggerated version of what you’re going through.  But there were a handful of songs I have ready for this record that I took off because I 1) looked back and felt it was a bit too much and 2) because those close to me might hear them and get very upset. I have to consider others as well within this. There is a line, and you can’t cross it. But other than that, I wouldn’t say I like to censor myself. Because if something comes out of you naturally, that’s where good art lies"

And you can’t deny the things that your heart and your mind can produce. You need to own that and use that as a means to inspire you rather than hinder you…
"Yeah, for sure. And I look back on some of these songs now and think, ‘I’m glad I’m not in that place now’. In a way, it’s a documentary of these different parts of my life. Not that all of the songs are even about me. There are somewhere I would watch a movie, and it would affect me so deeply that I would take how it made me feel and write about that."

Another big part of this is the means that you have created to present these songs. Where did the way that this album looks, and how you look, come into it?
"There’s a myriad of reasons that I ended up presenting things this way. It was never in my mind for this to ever be Ian from Creeper. I didn’t want to sell it on it being me. I didn’t want my face to be in the product. But that’s a personal thing as well. I didn’t want to distract people from the album with me. I want people to consume these songs as songs, not as Ian’s songs. Then there’s another side to it to do with confidence. It’s easy to bear a lot of stuff in this form. But at the same time, some songs don’t match the imagery that I am portraying this through, which is precisely what I want. That’s how I crafted it. I’ve also always wanted to be in a black metal band, so I’ve dressed this up in this way for that as well."

How do you feel your relationship with these songs and what you have put together has changed as you have got closer and closer to it being out in the world being a reality?
"I wrote these songs so long ago. I feel like I have become slightly detached from them. That’s made it a lot easier just to put them out there. I’m amazed that people like it, though. It’s all pretty dark. It’s helped me deal with that darkness, though. It’s all been a very cathartic process. There is one song that I wrote close to when I came out of the hospital. It’s almost an apology because, at the time, I didn’t realise how much it was affecting other people. Then it sunk in, and I wrote a song about it, and then even within that, I have never really directly apologised to anybody. But that song served as a direct resolve of that situation. When I sent that song to Will [Gould], he first played me ‘All My Friends’ as well, and both songs have served as little gifts to each other after the chaos that we went through."

So what does the future look like? Is this record a catalyst, do you feel?
"I’ve already got songs for another record, but it’s now about choosing how and when to approach that and how it’s going to make me feel. Having years to sit on these songs, I have come to a place where I feel happy to put it out into the world. And I’m so much better at recording now too! The fact is that I was always planning on writing and recording but keeping it to myself, but a couple of people pushing me by saying it’s good and people will like it. When your confidence is really low, all it takes is those couple of people to make you want to do something. And I feel like having the time to focus on it this past year has had a big effect on it becoming a reality. But sometimes you have to let things happen, and that’s what I will keep on doing.”

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