Introducing Rainy Miller

Words By Owain Ashton Jones

Rainy Miller on set for a Space Afrika video. Photography by Timon Wasilwa

When thinking of musical visionaries of past and present, those that broke barriers and pushed artistic boundaries beyond the conventional norms, very few would consider the small town of Longridge, 8 miles north of Preston, to be home to one of the countries most exciting musicians doing just that.

Rainy Miller, an all-rounded, self-sufficient musician in every sense, emerged onto the scene following the release of his self-produced debut project ‘Limbs’, in 2019. Ten songs, intricately put together, following themes of distance, fantasising tales of home life, and expressive vocals unapologetically provokes emotional introspect.

Following on from the release of ‘Limbs’, Rainy was presented with the opportunity to support American Indie-Pop superstar Gus Dapperton on the UK dates of his European tour. Where so many would have aimed to propel off the back of the buzz, Rainy did the opposite, continuing to educate himself in a bid to master his craft. Resulting in a two-year absence from music, up until the very recent releases of  ‘Yellowman’ and ‘Meridian, 1520’.

We were very fortunate to catch up with Rainy Miller to learn more about how his childhood surroundings sculpted him into the artist he is today, learning what his music means to him, and discovering what he has in store for us over the coming months.

In your own words, who is Rainy Miller?

Rainy Miller is probably at its essence just a way for me to tell stories and be emotive whilst still feeling super comfortable about it. I’m the only person to come from my town who went on to do music and for a long time I felt very secretive about doing it all, so once I found the correct name and fit, it became a comfortable feeling almost. It’s not any crazy moniker or anything. I feel very close to Rainy Miller as a whole, but it’s become more of just a feeling for me to create under instead of a character or such. Like you put a uniform on to go to work, it’s kind of like that. 

Just tell us a bit about your upbringing, the environments you were surrounded by at an early age & how they have impacted the person you are today?

I was brought up in a town called Longridge, about 8 miles away from Preston’s city centre, and still to this day think it’s one of the most unique places about. Seems quite cliché but it’s almost got the perfect representation of every typical walk of life concentrated down and filtered into about two miles. There are council houses a stone’s throw away from properties worth £400,000, it’s so bizarre and everyone knows each other. It was great though and I learned a lot there, particularly how to behave around every walk of life. The police presence was minimal so the town kind of governed itself, which definitely contributed to my personality and the music I’ve been making. It’s a very typical, bang down the middle northern town. I’m one of very few who left the town out of my friends so any time I’m home it’s great, all my mates are still there and it’s buzzing. I’m very lucky to have that and it makes me want to champion that perspective as much as I can. 

What early musical influences can you remember?

A lot was going on, I lived at my Grandma’s for a while and my uncle was there too so I can remember jumping about on his bed to The Verve and Oasis back then, I hate Oasis now like, I’m not into the lack of humility, but my mum always said I had a keen ear for all sorts. My mum and I loved the Prodigy from literally day one, I think she managed to take me to see them in Leeds when I was about 3 or something mad like that. Lots of old school, my mum was super keen on the Hacienda so I grew up with that and my old man Al, he loved a lot of dance records but a lot of Electronica too so I remember listening to a lot of Air, Röyksopp and a bit of Björk. The first album I really connected with was Ian Brown’s ‘Music of the Spheres’, think it was ‘FEAR’ and ‘Gravy Train’ that I loved, which is cool because I still think the drum work on ‘Gravy Train’ is so heavy and quite similar to what I’m doing now so, maybe it’s rubbed off who knows. 

Rainy Miller By Timon Wasilwa

At what point did you become so invested in creating music? 

I got super obsessed when I was about 10 or 11. Preston had a huge Grime scene, and it was mad because everyone was always one door away from someone who was considered sick in the scene, whether through school, your mate, or their brother. It was harder to find boys our age not writing bars than to find boys involved. It was honestly such an electric time. It was palpable in the city, it had everything, the beef and the clashes. Myspace just going off, it was this intense community that my mates and I fell in love with. We used to go to my mate Dec’s house who had a microphone and we’d just record tunes all day every day. He had a few older brothers who were around some of the best emcee’s from our side of Preston, I’d be starstruck seeing guys like two years older than me outside the corner shops when I’d visit different estates in town or something, barely a teenager myself. I remember even using a Singstar microphone from that PS2 game on the family laptop at my house, just taking beats from Limewire and then recording with that. I couldn’t get enough. That whole period in time introduced me to so much. From the passion to learning how to pirate software at 12 years old, that was the spur, it was that time period that had the biggest impact.

And how did this love for music transpire into what it is today? 

It took a while for me to get back into music after I got away from all the grime stuff, it all died really fast which was a shame. There was a lot of talent about, but we were all just kids so it all went super unnoticed, and then it was as if it never existed for a while. It took me another three or four years until I came back to it.

I was just making hip hop beats, mostly boom-bap, and a lot of sampling, I’ve never been musically trained and there weren’t instruments about as a kid, it’s only as I got older I started to teach myself music and how to play here and there but I’ve always wanted to be good at what I do. I produced for Capital Steez with the second proper beat I’d ever made, I just wanted to be good at it, so I was literally sitting making two or three beats every day, trawling through youtube for samples. I didn’t have a clue about mixing or mastering, just figuring it all out as I went along, always very DIY and singular, but super passionate. To think about the stuff I make now it’s a million miles away, but a lot of those days of just sitting, creating, and digging have taught me so much through a lot of practice.

Describe your sound with just 3 words.

Honest, intricate, and simple.

Your most recent release ‘Meridian’, is an eerie, atmospheric yet beautifully harmonious work of art. How would you describe the emotions behind the single and what ‘Meridian’ meant to you?

‘Meridian’ is something I loved for a long time, the songs actually over two years old. It was the first piece of music that held happy elements that I felt sounded good. I normally hate happy music, which is the ultimate age-old cliche, but I’m a sucker for the main character syndrome that sorrow can bring when you listen to good songwriting that stems from pain and suffering. That first half is really light and positive, but still sounded good to me, so I was proud of it. It’s part of a series of songs, ‘Yellowman’ before it, and a song that is yet to be released named ‘Death at a TV Dinner’, the collection is called ‘A Choreographed Interruption’. It’s funny because I think the music will fade into obscurity really. It’s not marketable enough to be the big thing it flirts on the edges of being potential. But it’s not cool enough to be cult status and championed by the trendsetters. However,  it does represent on the whole a really emotionally charged period of time within my life and the process of growing into becoming a man and what that means and how I handle it. Maybe it’s meant to fade into obscurity, it’s like what it represents, a great deal at the time, but nothing individual, it’s something we all do. 

Are there any artists past or present who similarly created their own lane, pioneering new sounds that inspired you to stick to your own formulas?

Yeah, I think, and yet again, a very common answer, but Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ was just immaculate for ripping apart song structure, but doing so in a palatable way. I just loved how that album perfectly walked the line of being super copacetic, but still erring ever so slightly left field in elements. I love that type of stuff. James Blake had a big influence on the vocal production I do, Bon Iver too. I love Melody as Truth, PAN, Posh Isolation, Year 1000. I’m obsessed with this space between experimentation and Pop music, using the masses of beauty found in ambient and experimental records and using them to make super palatable music.

Recently, what really spurred me to break out of my norms and the boxes I confined myself to was working with Blackhaine, Space Afrika, and Croww. I just watched how they create and I love the freedom, the lack of rules, the lack of need to stick to any formula. For the first time, working with those guys amazed me with how they didn’t stick to the grid in the DAW (digital audio workstation), or they disregarded how technically bad crude distortion is for a mix, etc. It was mad, It just made me go back to basics and stop being so grandiose and think, if it sounds good, that’s it. That’s the job done. Not to say that those boys aren’t creating complex stuff because they are, but it’s the freedom and fluidity to create that gives them that complexity, not 100’s of channels for one song, or sticking perfectly to the rules of mixing, or a million different synths and plugins, and it’s funny because that’s something I’ve been trying to learn for years, to naturally let yourself breathe in the pockets that arrive within the ethos that less is more sometimes.

Tell us a little bit about your time touring with Gus Dapperton and what that experience was like for you? 

Insane, very different. I’ve known Gus for some time now primarily through the Internet and I’ve watched him grow into this worldwide phenomenon. He, fundamentally though, is actually just a really good person. He put me on that tour to help me expose my music to the world a little more and when I met him in person, it was even more apparent that he is just a good lad, who cares about others. I didn’t know what to expect when I met him, because of the stature of who he is now but it was just easy, the tour was cool, his band are amazing, all just wonderful people and they made the tour great.

The audience is a little different, but to go from never playing a show before to standing in front of 500 people in London, with my mates behind me, that’s just a bit mad. Was a crazy feeling and I am super grateful to him for putting me on.

What can we expect to see from you throughout the rest of the year?

Personally, I’m hoping there’s a lot to come. I was a little stagnant over 2019 so I made a constant effort to create a lot more last year. There are plans to bring bits out, I’ve got the final track from ‘A Choreographed Interruption’ very soon, which is a good song. I worked with some great people on that one too, I’m just so excited for it to see the light of day and there should be something else from me this year if everything goes to plan.

As well, loads more live shows. I’m trying to step into myself as a performer a lot more. I usually hate it and don’t think I’m very good at it but I’m now consciously stepping into the shows with a different attitude. Besides that I’ve just been behind the scenes on some great records too so, things are definitely happening.

And finally, is there anything that you’d like to add and let the people know? 

If you love the stuff I’m doing, or anyone’s doing, shout about it, it’s hard getting this stuff about and spreading the word so if you love it, tell everyone. 

I got over trying to be some dead stush artist guy in the last two years too and my advice to everyone else is to just crack on, don’t take yourself too seriously, and just create with the intent to finish. Finish everything you start, whether you think it’s shit or not. Before you know it three years will have passed by and you haven’t released because you overhyped yourself to yourself. Nobody cares really, just release man, create it’s good for you.

Amidst the uncertainty of the past year and a half, one thing we can be sure of is that Rainy Miller’s music is here to stay, evolving as he does and with it evoking heartfelt self-reflection and rejoice.  Again proving that sometimes the most influential can come from the most unlikely of surroundings.

Be sure to continue following Rainy Miller’s journey and just as he said himself, “If you love it, Shout about it!“.