The Broken Speaker: A Few Words with David Myles

May 3, 2013
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THE UNLIKELY STORY OF MYLES AND CLASSIFIED

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Unlikely is a word that keeps popping up in conversations about David Myles. He recently won a JUNO for rap recording of the year for “Inner Ninja”, a song he co-wrote with rapper Classified. An unlikely award because if you’ve ever seen David Myles, you know he is a bean-pole, a skinny dude who likes to wear suits and play folk music. His image and sound is something out of 1950s doo-wop. But here is Myles, a JUNO winner for a rap song.

“It’s not exactly how I would have planned it when I started playing music nine year ago…But I’ll take it. I’m pumped,” says the hip-hop loving David Myles over the phone from Toronto.

Myles has always hoped to have a diverse career that touches on different genres and features collaborations. Through this collaboration with Classified and an award-winning song, he has done just that.

MYLES AND CLASSIFIED MEET

Enfield, Nova Scotia rapper Luke Boyd (aka Classified) and Myles, originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick, first met at a Music Nova Scotia conference a few years ago. The unlikely pair chatted, found some common interests such as ping pong, and everything took off from there.

“We basically became friends and he liked what I was doing,” said Myles. “It feels special. It feels different. It feels unique.”

Myles worked with Classified on his track “The Day Doesn’t Die” from Handshakes and Middle Fingers in 2011. Classified produced a version of Myles’ track “Simple Pleasures” on Into The Sun from that same year.

Part of what makes this pairing work so well is the fact both artists are pushing their limits and having fun doing it.

“This is so fun for me. I feel like I’m using my whole musical brain. I’m taking all these risks. I’m playing my trumpet, I’m playing my guitar, I’m doing all these vocal parts and we’re having a good time. To have it all work out is hilarious.”

TAKING RISKS

“Inner Ninja” was a risk for the duo. This may seem foolish to say about a song that has gone on to be a hit single. Classified and Myles went back and forth for days deciding if the the track was too much or too weird.

“Sometimes risk is what pays off the most..when you’re about to put down a song called “Inner Ninja” and that’s the chorus, that’s a risk. It’s not your typical chorus. It’s not your typical wording.”

Working with Classified has taught Myles that risk can really pay off. “Inner Ninja” is a pretty minimalistic and stripped down track compared to the other highly-produced and noisy singles that dominate the top 40 charts.

“I was surprised almost because it seemed like an unlikely single. But I think because it was an unlikely song, because it had all those differences, that’s what made it resonate. That’s what makes it stick out.”

Myles played 14 songs for Classified and he loved “Inner Ninja”. The song started with a verse and melody from Myles that was then worked into form with Classified.

TWO DISTINCT SOUNDS, ONE RECORD

This type of process has continued on with disc two of David Myles new album In the Nighttime out May 14. Disc two is a six song EP of tracks produced by Classified. The EP is an extension of the relationship between the two musicians.

The first disc one from In the Nighttime is a more familiar sound for Myles, consisting of the type of folk songs you would expect from him. While working on disc one of the new album, he started working Classified again, hanging out every day Myles had off. The pair ended up with a new set of songs leading to a dilemma for Myles.

“The tunes started to sound better and better. And I was like ‘holy smokes, what am I going to do? I just finished my record that I’m about to release. And I have this ongoing thing with Luke (Classified) that’s feeling so good and kicking ass. What do I do? Do I release the EP right away? Do I release them separately?’”

He ultimately decided he wanted to show both sides of his musical career on the new album. The roots thing and the hip-hop infused work with Classified.

“I felt like in some ways, if I was releasing them separately I was hiding part of my personality from people.”

Myles played 14 songs for Classified and he picked the songs that resonated with him. Myles doesn’t tell him what songs he wants to work on with him, he lets Classified make that call.

“Luke listens for energy and lyrics. He’s really into clever lyrics.”

“What Would I Have To Do” is one of those new tracks Classified loved. The track also appears on disc one of In the Nighttime. It appears on both discs and shows how a song can sound completely different depending on how they’re produced.

While Classified picks the stuff he likes, Myles also has a sense for when he thinks a track will work. “One In A Million” was one the last songs he wrote for the album, and he had a feeling it would work.

The first single “How I Ever Think I Loved You” is another example of a track Myles thought would work, mostly because it wasn’t as much of a folk song as his other material.

It will be exciting to see what happens next for the two unlikely friends who have consistently been producing music that has been well-liked.

by Jonathan Briggins, The Broken Speaker
photo credit: David Myles and Classified perform Inner Ninja at the East Coast Music Awards gala. Photo Jonathan Briggins