While the name Miles Evans–Branagh might be more novel for local music fans, he’s been a musician around town and beyond for over a decade growing up in the local scene and developing his chops as a serious talent. This week, Evans–Branagh’s project, Miles From Nowhere, releases their debut collection of songs.
Surrounded by music his entire life, Evans–Branagh got his start as an eleven year old thanks to his musician father Terry Branagh, guitarist for the 905 Band. His talents as a boy developed as he grew and Evans–Branagh developed into a session musician before he was able to drink in bars. But he decided to make music his life, always looking to learn more about the music he loves and it’s that quest that has fueled his passion.
“I was lucky having my dad as a musician because that first time I played was at his jam at the American House in Waterdown — it’s funny, I still play with some of those guys like Nell Nickafor and Sonny Bernardi — I’m really lucky that I got that early a start,” says Evans–Branagh. “Growing up my dad was into the musical side and my mom was really into the lyrics so it’s awesome to have taken a bit from both of them and take both elements from them. Musically, first I loved the Beatles when I was six years old. and From there I got into Motown when I was twelve years old and I got into funk like Sly Stone and it’s all grown from there.
“I knew I was always going to play music — I was playing gigs at twelve but I wasn’t sure what I was going to go to school for but I went to Mohawk for jazz piano and that definitely helped my playing ability, stepping it up to another level,” adds Evans–Branagh. “I was already playing gigs so I thought I was in great shape but there is so much knowledge that you’d never heard about musically — it helped me get better. I learned so much as a side guy and back up, it allowed me to back up with a lot of different musicians. I’ve been very busy since I graduated and still playing with people like Spencer MacKenzie and EJ Smith from Toronto as well as a lot of people from Mohawk with their own projects, like myself. It’s busy and good and continuous learning, which is awesome.”
Now twenty–four years old, Evans–Branagh’s work in high school bands and as a session performer for other musicians has kept his journey alive but this week, the musician steps into the spotlight with his own original music and a new EP of songs of what he refers to as indie soul music.
“Soul is such a wide umbrella of music that I really love,” says Evans–Branagh. “Sly Stone, Cat Stevens and Stevie Wonder — it just feels so good, all of that music. I’m also influenced by some of the newer artists like Michael Kiwanuka and their production that has more soulful elements. I still wanted to have a soulful element and groove based music with more modern sounding production techniques and melodies, tying it all together. It’s paying respect to the past but moving forward in my own way and making it work.”
Produced by Jason Bhattacharya and mixed by Aaron Hutchinson at Fort Rose Studio, Miles from Nowhere is Evans–Branagh’s own version of R&B and soul with pop featuring Bhattacharya (drums, percussion, vocals, guitars), Hutchinson (trumpet), Graeme Moffatt (bass), Connor Bennett (saxophone) and even dad Terry Branagh (guitar). It’s a solid group of songs performed confidently and leaving you feeling good or at least that’s Evans–Branagh’s intent.
“I’ve been working with Jason since we met at Mohawk over the last four or five years,” says Evans–Branagh. “We wrote the whole thing together and it’s great that we’re finally able to release this record because we’ve worked on this for a long time to make it sound great. It’s feel good music and I hope that’s how people feel listening to it.We open up the songs a lot live and see where they can go when you don’t give yourself a three minute parameter for recording so we explore them a little more. You get the essence of the song but you get the live experience, which is what music is about.
“We’re excited about getting it out there and having a live show for this release,” adds Evans–Branagh. “Granny Smith is Jason’s band and he’s going to have a record coming out soon and we’ve got Merival, a great singer and songwriter from Toronto coming to help us out for this show, too. But for Miles From Nowhere — it’s a show of tight grooves, a lot of focus on the pocket for drums and bass, two guitars and we’re going to play all the songs off the new record as well as some older and newer songs. We’re emulating a lot of the sounds from the record and it’s just feel good music for a good show. I’ve love playing with everyone that I’ve been able to work with over the years but I definitely want this to be my arrival as a songwriter and as an artist myself. I think this record is a great start but we’re going to keep moving forward playing shows and growing the Miles From Nowhere project.”
Miles From Nowhere plays this Thursday December 5 at This Ain't Hollywood with Granny Smith and Merival. Doors open at 9 pm and $10 gets you in. Click on milesfromnowhere.bandcamp.com