Miller: The Real Deal

Rising to become one of the brightest stars in the underground is no mean feat. For some it comes easy, but for most, it begins when they are old enough to hold a record and it is never ending. One such artist that embodies this ethos is perhaps one of the most hard working artists you will likely meet – Miller. From humble beginnings, he remains humble and takes each step in his journey with the same wide eyed, boyish enthusiasm as his formative years. Miller is, however, no beginner. Having made his way up through the ranks of the UK scene, he has since flown the coop and embarked on adventures across the world delivering some of the best music you will hear. 

All good stories have a great beginning and for Miller that started in his hometown where he had his first meeting with dance music culture, “My journey begun in electronic music, but on a completely different side of the spectrum to what it is now. When I was growing up in my hometown of Middlesbrough in the UK, I was fascinated with the older MCs in local youth clubs and friends from my area. They were all a lot older than me, so when I hit the tender age of 12, my parents got me my first pair of turntables and I was one of the only people with the equipment and space in my neighbourhood. I would have the older MC kids come to my parents loft, speakers on full, and recording the sessions onto CD. I wouldn’t say it was “DJing” at the time, more cueing up vinyl and pressing play.

You could perhaps say this was where Miller entered the world of electronic music, but not all musicians play the same music their whole lives. It is a regular occurrence that the music that we are exposed to at an early age is down to social standing and how we grow up, it is what we do with this musical upbringing that informs our next steps. Miller goes deeper with the type of music of this time in his life, “This type of MC was huge in my area, known as “Makina”. In the council estates where I am from it was huge. The best way I can describe it, is like playful techno/hardcore with people rhyming over the top. This was my entry level to electronic and playing records myself. Very distasteful, I must admit, but you can’t forget your roots.” This sound was not always what was being played and influence came from a different source, “Away from that, my father would play a lot of Phil Collins, The Beatles, Bob Marley & the wailers, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel on repeat. Being at the age of 31 now, I would say my early days were more caused by my surroundings and as I said before, a complete opposite side of the spectrum of my taste the last 15 years.

Miller’s hometown continues to be a major talking point as he forges his way into the scene that would ultimately offer him the keys to all the doors. Middlesbrough has a rich history in club culture and this young upstart soon embedded himself in the very center, “I played a lot in my hometown when I was younger, clubs in Middlesbrough in my teenage years before I was legal to be in a club and the following years. The Empire, Medicine Bar, Arena, were all part of my first steps into proper clubs.”  Middlesbrough is one thing, but making the decision to head to the sun and shoot for the moon is quite another. This is where Miller’s story really begins to hold as his love affair with the White Isle begins, “When I went to Ibiza at the age of 17/18, this is when things really took off in my education with my first residencies being at The Zoo Project and Ibiza Underground. Here I heard the greats and was blown away by Ricardo Villalobos, Rhadoo, Barac, Kevin Cook, Don Juanito, who are still some of my biggest inspirations.

Being such a stronghold for new and emerging talent on the island, The Zoo Project welcomed Miller from an early point while on the island. He soon became an ambassador for the special parties that took place across the summer season and Miller has always cited this brand as having a huge impact on him, “When I moved to Ibiza. I started as a resident of the Zoo boat party, second summer I was already playing at The Zoo Project smaller stage which led onto the main stage and a residency at Underground. It was a long journey before that, but these were solidifying moments that progressed quickly for my path that I am still on today. I am super grateful for both of these brands, I feel like I grew up with the big stage of Zoo and the smaller intimacy of Underground so it allowed me to really build experience in different situations. I owe Zoo and Underground a lot and will be forever grateful.”

Another pivotal point in Miller’s exploration as an artist is without a doubt his journey within the Real Gang clique. “I started Real Gang with my friend Nicolau, originally a clothing brand. The reason for the brand was I entered a really enlightening “hippy” as you could say stage of my life. I wanted to make a brand that acknowledged the everyday “good” “genuine” souls that may not get the notice or spotlight, but they were beautiful people. For example the old woman behind the till at the shop, who didn’t need to be so kind but would greet you daily with a smile and good energy.” It is this continued dedication to the people of this life that has helped shape Miller as a person not just a musician as he continues to explain, “these are the type of people who I wanted to make the brand for, people who are good people as a way of life and not for any ulterior motives, which happens a lot in the music and clubbing industry. The name actually came from me flicking in a dictionary for days, I finally called Nicolau and said “I got it… Real Gang”. He actually didn’t like it at first, then I encouraged him with the meanings behind both words. Real meaning Genuine, and Gang meaning a group of gathering of people, this wording also gave a positive phrase to the word gang with the word normally being looked at as a negative group of people in the areas I grew up in.” 

Building a brand such as Real Gang from the ground up is always going to be a long process, but the early days of their first parties really helped to cement this community ethos within Miller and Nicolou. Instilling these family values gave the bedrock from which their own artist development to flourish and Realgang soon became a part of them both, “We started with after parties in Ibiza at our house on the hill in Cala Salada, they were insane times and this then brought us to the club level at Zoo and Underground. We had the start of a community and following who would party at ours on repeat for extended hours that would turn into days.”

“If we fast forward to today, we are almost at a stage of a rebirth Real Gang 2.0, although I have stayed consistent with our output of releases, we took a step back from parties and clothing as everyone did during Covid. We did 3 marathon shows of 20 hours with a few stacked lineups after covid, but the last one was in 2022. This rebirth will see the return of our parties and shows consistently again, as well as new clothing line drops to get us back telling our story. Sometimes you have to take 2 steps backwards to take 5 steps forward, especially when your main focus is a brand that boasts doing things for the right reasons. I look forward to sharing this new news with all and giving our community the “we are back” moment very soon. Timing is everything, Real Gang will always be done for passion and not business, it’s the only thing that works for me, when my heart is the main driver.”

With the stars already beginning to align, we soon moved onto Miller’s current driver and long term love of producing. His thirst to craft something truly unique that would act as his calling card would massively impact his life, but as with every other facet of his life, his beginning started with family, “My uncle was always playing in bands, and I spent a lot of my time growing up in my family’s different pubs. This made me want to play instruments, however, I met a local guy in the hardcore scene who showed me Fruity Loops at his place, and from that moment I realised I could play all instruments digitally, and not need a whole band to make tracks, I could do it on my own. I started to hear about fabric through a legend in my hometown Lee Pennington, founder of riffraff, from here I went to get fabric cds from Eddie Richards, Terry Francis, Craig Richards, this wasn’t so much individual productions but these mix CDs started to direct my journey through sound into the underground house/techno scene.

Miller is a constantly on the move, always looking to take his sound to next level and with his sound being a timeless cross between the best moments in electronic music, past and future, Miller explains that he is enjoying an interesting period of growth, “I think my way of making music will always be “underground” but in the last years I have really set myself no barriers or limits and have really grew to love my approach and my personal musical identity. I went from chunky house in my earlier years and my many shows with the Slapfunk and Zoo crews to going super deep into minimal as the years went by at Ibiza Underground. Now I feel I’m at a point of a hybrid of the two. I have some releases coming this year on a very legendary label, one of the oldest house labels in fact. This is a little different in terms of my vinyl only, limited run releases, and it’s happened at a time in which I am comfortable with who I am, and why I do this. I have been addicted to making music as a lifestyle since I was a kid, I’m still in the studio 4-5 days a week morning till night now, so people will be hearing many recordings and many different styles, that just happens when you spend so much time creating and expressing.

Recent years have seen Miller level up with each passing release and he has been nothing short of prolific but not at the risk of over saturating peoples ears. Providing some of the freshest grooves around, his constant R & D has lead him to some of the most in demand releases of the last year, “I have been working non stop these last years, I have been full time for quite some time now, and within this process as an artist, you have to go deep, get lost, find yourself again and repeat. All my life moments for sure have had an impact on different moods of my output. In the last months I have released x5 vinyl only EPs from dark minimal to more heavy party.” Knowing when to take advice is an often overlooked skill in the world of creatives but one that Miller has already harnessed, “My team around me tell me they all hear my touch regardless of my direction, but that is a lot harder to see and recognise personally, when I’m constantly creating. EP’s that have come out recently are my “Quest of Samurai” EP including a Varhat remix on Les Enfants Barcelona, a collab with Jay Tripwire, our “Greasy Grooves” EP on Afterhours, “Symphonia” EP including a Priku remix, “Dracula” EP, and “I Can Beat” EP including a Crihan remix. All these releases are how I am explaining above, they are different shades of me, and recorded in one session, so they act as a timestamp, rather than being cornered into “one sound”. With more releases this year to come from me that I am waiting on in the calendar. You will know when they drop.

We now move towards the finer details of the magic that is crafted behind closed doors and unless you live in this world it is hard to help others understand just how involved and deeply revealing this creative process actually is. Like most great recording sessions nothing is wasted and there is always something to learn, “I record pretty much all tracks I do in one session, with the occasion I might revisit something I’ve done and not finished previously. This forces me into an organic mindset to be honest, of not trying to think to much or portray an initial idea to anything I do. I go to the studio, turn everything on and begin. I unpatch my modular and repatch it maybe a few times a session, I go from old school samplers and drum machines to new. All these different decisions I make, lead me down different roads and result in different outcomes. I need a process like this, it needs to be fun, keep me motivated, I am trying to constantly be creative and different sounds and machines interest me more than others at times, and vice versa. I do this for passion, I record with no intention to release, it’s a humble approach to doing what I love, in my own little world.

Finally, attention turns to the new creation of Miller’s next weapon of dancefloor destruction and it also happens to be our next Free Download. Now, if you have ever caught one of Miller’s Insta posts you will have noticed the banks and banks of modular cables, synth, and drum machines that he uses to bring this creations to life. He explains how his track for our series came to be, “I initially made the track to play at Farbika Festival in Tunisia. Drums are a combination between my trusty MC909 and a module from my modular system the Squid Salmple, this gives both contrasts of heavy and tight drums in synergy. My usual FX trickery with percussion, drones, synth touches are again coming from patches in my modular. I’m not actually sure what machine the bass came from now, with me usually recording quite a few synths and sequences per session to give me different moods and energy.

As Miller explains the track started life in a different vein, but was the perfect answer to this question, “This track I wanted to be more “party” for my set time I was playing, so I remember this being the version I played and what has been the final cut, rather than a more darker, sustained bass that is in the other version I made. This track features the ongoing sample of “Flowdan – Welcome to London”, with my playful trickery and FX work as you will hear throughout. For the free download series, away from my completely original work, I wanted to use the opportunity to share this track. As you could call this cut more towards an edit with the constant sample. After so many requests and people begging for it after Fabrika, I’m happy now that people can get their hands on it. 

Never missing an opportunity to extend his gratitude to the wider scene, Miller signs off with more love, “I’m super grateful to you guys at Trommel for the ongoing support over the years and AlpaTheta for the feature here. It’s my pleasure to contribute a wanted track from my hardrive to the world. I also wanted to give a huge amount of love and recognition to everyone who has supported my recent releases. I understand how expensive vinyl is these days and without the people who buy my records, I wouldn’t be able to continue to put tracks out. Thank You everyone from the bottom of my heart, I hope this track can be my moment to give back to all. Enjoy 🙂

You can now download the new Free Download by Miller – Welcome to London from our Soundcloud page.

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