In Conversation with Miles Island

The brainchild and solo project of Jim Bjorklun, Miles Island is a psychedelic pop artist reminiscent of Tame Impala. Hailing from Minneapolis, Miles Island has a very unique sound combining elements of psychedelic pop with alternative pop and indie rock. We had a chance to chat with Jim about the new single ‘Who Are You?’, discovering new music and much more!

Why did you decide to enter the music industry?

I like to think I didn’t choose the music business so much as it chose me, but, really, I’ve been into music ever since I was a kid. I started playing the violin at age 6 and later picked up the bass and electric guitar which led to playing in bands. Eventually, when I was ready, I began the journey of making music on my own and have been looking forward ever since.

Can you tell us about ‘Who Are You?’?

When I was writing the first album Right As Rain, I’d recorded 13 songs in total. A few songs didn’t make the album for various reasons and were just gathering dust. Two of these songs I wanted to do something with but wasn’t sure what. Then one day I was looking at some vinyl records with an A-side and B-side and a lightbulb went off. Since these songs were like two peas in a pod, I realised they should be combined like an old-school single.

What was the recording and writing process like?

These songs all began as sketches or brainstorms that came through while playing around on guitar. Most of these fragments then floated in and out of various tape recordings for a while. Over time, I learned to recognise the ideas that really excited me and had the most potential to be bonafide songs. I then kept plugging away on these tracks until I’d completed a final mix for each song. After doing this 13 times, the debut album was finished and now this single is released as well.

 

 

Does the single have any significant meaning for you?

It does. Initially, I wanted to introduce this musical project with ‘Who Are You?’ and it was going to be that all-important first impression! As it happened, the song didn’t really fit on the album so I’m glad it could still find a home via this single.

It’s similar with ‘Down By The River’ since that song was dead in the water from an out of tune guitar part. The magic of technology gave it a second life, so it’s great for this song to see the light of day as well.

What do you hope people take from your music?

Hopefully, people can tell some thought has gone into this since I think it’s important to have a vision for the music you are making. When you’ve found a viable concept or blueprint you naturally want to follow it and see where it leads. I hope people will pick up on that sense of discovery as well. Since I play the instruments and produce it myself, perhaps people will also get that it’s a lot of work to make a finished song.

What is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?

I’ve always been a musically-oriented person so that part comes easily overall. I also really enjoy reading and feel like writing is a natural area for me. So, in general, I’d say it’s lyrics, but it could go either way.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I don’t have to motivate myself too much on the musical side of things. I just enjoy writing and recording music so, inevitably, there are lots of ideas to choose from. Sometimes this backlog, along with the busy work of being an independent musician, can feel overwhelming. Plus, the time lag between having an idea and finishing it seems to take forever.

I’d say taking time for self-care and to recharge is very important. This definitely includes a full night’s sleep whenever possible. As long as I’m feeling refreshed and ready, then the motivation takes care of itself.

How would you describe your sound?

Psychedelic basement-pop.

What do you think is the best way to discover new music?

I like browsing blogs and websites that cover new music and artists. If something intrigues me or pulls at my ear, then I’ll check it out further. Sometimes I scroll through Bandcamp by genre tag and discover music that way. Also, putting YouTube on ‘autoplay’ has led to some green pastures.

What does the future hold for Miles Island?

I’m actually winding down this release process at the moment since I’ve now dropped all the music I wanted to from this batch of songs. The latest mission is setting up a new recording studio in my basement which should be ready sometime this fall. Once that’s in place, I can start working on the next music.

Do you have a message for our readers?

I’d say that when starting down a creative path, it’s helpful to find a vision and then work to realise it as best you can. If you create something you’d like to see in the world then that’s a real accomplishment. Whether other people like it or not is less important than staying true to yourself and your ideas.

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