Most Nova Scotians were cursing the late blast of winter that came earlier this week, but as resourceful Maritimers are wont to do, David Myles and Classified were able to make the most of it.
The folk-pop crooner and the Enfield MC were performing for the camera late Monday night around the waterfront of north-end Halifax, filming a music video for their collaboration Work Away, the new single from Classified’s latest album, Greatful.
“We’re doing our outdoor shots with this industrial background of the docks, and it was a full-on snowstorm. I’m out there in my suit and tie, playing electric guitar in the snow with Classified. It looked totally awesome with the snow and the lights, but it was freezing cold,” says Myles, who is in the midst of packing for an Alberta tour to promote his own brand-new EP, Here Now.
“I think it’s going to be amazing. It kinda reminded of me of a Haywire video, where they’re playing drums in the rain and every time he hits the snare drum, a giant blast of water comes off it.
“One of my first memories of watching music videos was that song, and this video had that sort of look, only with snow instead of rain.”
The production schedule for the shoot, directed by Jason Levangie, also included dramatic scenes with actors portraying family members kept apart by having to, as the title indicates, work away from home. The subject matter remains sadly current, considering this week marks the one year anniversary of the cuts to the Nova Scotia film tax credit and the #NSfilmjobs campaign to try to keep movie-making professionals working in this province.
But it goes far beyond that. Myles notes that every time he gets on a plane, there are people going away to work, whether it’s in natural resources in Alberta or to far-off military postings.
“It’s a song I’m really proud of, actually,” he says. “Obviously when we were writing together, there was a certain amount of pressure to make sure it was a great song, and we’ve had a fair amount of success working together. We knew we wanted something special, and we wanted it to be about something. So I had a hook, and we both thought it was a cool concept, and we ran with it.
“Then Class put a note on his Facebook asking people who were working away to say who they were, where they’re from and where they work. I thought he’d get a dozen or so responses, but in one night there were over 400. Which just goes to show you how many people have to leave home for work.”
The work ethic of Myles and Classified, a.k.a. Luke Boyd, is in full effect on the Here Now EP, which came together while the latter was making Greatful. The two friends took advantage of Boyd’s ever-growing production skills to take the new songs further into the world of modern pop and R&B, with lots of push-and-pull in the exchange of musical ideas, resulting in a different tone for Myles as the end product of an intense, concerted effort.
“I like to make sure I’m not too pressured about things. For me, that’s what makes records different from one to another,” he says. “I like artists that have a discography that varies. You can follow the thread through the work of artists I like, but ultimately they change a bit because they collaborate with different people and therefore records have a different tone.
“Even Willie Nelson, he’ll go way beyond country.”
Myles let Boyd really go to work on the tunes, resulting in a denser production, for songs that wouldn’t seem out of place on commercial radio, without losing that essential flavour of the modern folk performer.
“I like the idea of taking a risk, and I knew I was taking a risk here, but I feel kind of lucky enough now that I have people who follow me or know me who know that this is the way I like to work,” Myles explains.
“It doesn’t mean that my next project is going to sound like this. In fact, it means that my next project will probably not sound like this. I will always go back to something that’s more acoustic, but I’m also always looking to the next thing. That’s what keeps me engaged; if I’m interested in trying something, I’ll try it.
“If I want to make a record that sounds like Outkast in the drums, or has elements of Sade, then I’ll try to do that. If it doesn’t work, no big loss, but I like to think that if I work hard enough, and try to have good enough taste, it’ll ultimately work. Or at least sound sincere and not like I’m trying to be something I’m not.”
Here Now was just released on Friday on iTunes and Spotify, but Myles has already seen the music spread around the world via The Big Share, an opportunity for fans to hear an early stream of the EP by signing up on his website with their email and location.
The site’s map shows listeners across Canada, of course, as well as around the United States and all over Europe. But it also shows eager ears for his music in New Zealand, Mongolia, South Korea and Brazil.
“Not bad for a couple of weeks,” he says with a chuckle. “It started with five people and spread around the world, and it was a fun thing to watch, a cool way to engage people before the record comes out. It was just an idea, and I got lucky because I work with a really cool group of people right now, and they have a lot of great ideas.
“I approach it the same way I approach my relationship with making records, I want it to be collaborative. I really want to get the best out of the people I work with, and to do that you’ve got to be really open to their ideas. And man, people have great ideas, I can’t take credit for The Big Share, but I was looking for a different way to release this and fun ways to promote it, and people really stepped up and came up with some cool stuff.”