Myles, you described your new album “Memories Of Love” as your most personal work yet. Is it more difficult for an artist to sing about personal experiences and feelings than to make up fictional stories?
I wouldn’t say it is difficult but probably more challenging to truly make it really personal, as we have to totally be honest with ourselves. My previous 3 albums all have personal stories in them, but with this one I wanted to go one step further and make it all about my personal experiences.
Your album deals with the many shades that love can have. What meaning does love have for you personally and as an artist?
Love is very important to me as an artist as it is what I am ultimately giving to my listeners. I am in the business of selling hope and helping people solidify their memories, whether happy or sad. That is the power of music!
How long did you work on the album?
This album in particular took a little longer because of how busy I was touring my last album “Just Being Me” and becoming a father. I recorded all the music back in December 2018 with the plan to release it in late 2019 but then Covid happened and I decided to push it back. I am always working on song ideas every day so that when it comes the time to put together my next album I am ready.
In “Where Do We Stand” you reflect on your own relationship with your father. A very personal song. Has your own fatherhood changed the way you look at the world and your work?
This is a difficult question you are asking here. Yes becoming a father has changed me in so many ways, but the most important thing it has taught me is to do my best to be a good role model to my son and teach him that anything is possible if we truly believe in ourselves.
Myles, you recorded the album with the same band you were touring with over the last eight years. How crucial was this familiar environment, this blind understanding for you to realize your vision?
This is very crucial because I know what my guys are capable of and they understand me. When you work with your family, communication is easy as you can get to the results you need much quicker.
You co-wrote most music with your long time bandmate Tom O’Grady. What characterizes your collaboration?
Trust is the most important thing here. I trust Tom with my ideas and in turn he helps me push them to their limits with his boundless talent on the piano. You can hear this in his solo project “Resolution 88”.
You also produced the album. How important is it for you to control the whole creative process?
First of all it is a means to an end, as I have to do it myself because I haven’t got hundreds of producers lined up knocking on my door saying we want to produce your next album. Secondly I love the creative process so I accept the challenge, and in turn my fans get art that is truly created by me in all aspects. It is a win win and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am D.I.Y and I love it.
Myles, you find a variety of influences on “Memories Of Love”: Jazz, soul, gospel, but also African patterns can be heard. In general, your music always sounds free, it crosses borders. Where does this openness to musical influences come from?
Well I compose, write, record and produce my music so I am free to do whatever I like. That is creative freedom and that comes across in my music. Also I was born in a multiracial and cultural family so I believe that it is partly responsible for this openness to deferent musical influences. My music is a reflection of me.
To what extent did your childhood in Ghanaian Accra influence your love to music?
I am still discovering this in every album I create, but my childhood has had a very important impact in my music. I learn at a very young age that life has a rhythm that helps us synchronize and the sweeter the rhythm the happier we are.
Already in your early youth you sang and rapped to the DJs in the clubs and bars of Cambridge. How did this time shape you as an artist?
Those experiences help me with my confidence and taught me how to connect with an audience. To become a showman to put is it simply.
You are not only a singer and producer, but also a designer and director. How important is the visual element for your work as a musician and songwriter?
It is very important to be as it completes the journey and helps for a stronger connection with my fans. I love all the creative processes as it gives me a change to tell it my way.
How important is authenticity for you as an artist and soul singer?
I can only be myself and hope that is enough.
Myles, you have been a constant on the European stages for many years. Especially in Great Britain and Germany, you have a large fan community. How much has the Corona pandemic affected you? And how much do you miss the limelight and the interaction with your audience?
I miss it so much and can’t wait to be on stage again. The last year has been particularly difficult because something that was so important and part of my life was taken away without prior warning. Music is a powerful thing, unstoppable, it will always find its way to the people so I am not that worried as I know I’ll be back doing what I love the most very soon.
You are known for rearranging your songs for your live performances every now and then and performing them differently. Are you itching to let the new songs evolve and breathe on stage? How important is improvisation for you?
Yes I am and can’t wait. I believe songs truly come alive when being shared with an audience because there is an interaction, an exchange going on. I record songs so that I can perform them on stage and allow the song to become something else that you can never create in a studio environment. Improvisation is freedom and who doesn’t like to be free.
Myles, you once said, “I want to make the music I like to listen to myself.” Which albums do you play most often at home at the moment?
I hardly listen to my albums at home. I make music I would “like” to listen to so that my listeners get a taste of me. Creating an album is quite taxing and requires a lot from you, plus you listen to it for months on end until it is finally ready for the public. So it is nice to take a break from it for a while but when you do come back to listen to it, it can sometimes be emotional and very satisfying.
What are your musical idols that have significantly influenced your style?
The list is too long to share but I am sure when you listen to my music you can hear them if any are relevant to you.
What’s next, Myles Sanko? Are there concerts planned after the lockdown?
Record my next album number 5. The pandemic has really affect the live music industry like never before but we can slowly see a light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it won’t last too long that we will lose musicians along the way as everyone one needs to earn a living to keep afloat.
Thank you very much for the interview, Myles.
The pleasure is all mine. It is always great to have wonderful questions that make me think.
Photo: Simon Buck