Miles Platt, musically known as Smilley, is an up-and-coming indie artist from Los Angeles, CA. He released his debut album, Stay Well! on April 20 after working on it for nearly five years and is excited for people to hear it and resonate with it.
How did you get your artist name, “Smilley”?
Well, my original plan was to put out music under the name “Feels Like Monday” because I was in middle school and wanted to be super edgy and cryptic like that. In high school when I started writing “real” songs, I realized that the name “Feels Like Monday” is a bit too tongue-in-cheek and edgy and it wouldn’t work that well for me as an artist name. I wanted my new name to be “Smiley” originally because my dad’s nickname for me is “Smiley Boy”. On top of that, my mom would always draw little three-line smiley faces next to my name in kindergarten or next to things in general and it’s kind of her schtick. I wanted to pay homage to both my parents and my childhood since my music generally leans towards a nostalgic sound. I settled on “Smilley” because it looked the most visually pleasing to read and because I realized that I could draw a little smile under the two L’s, completing the three-line smiley face my mom would always draw. I still use the name “Feels Like Monday” as my music publishing name and for my record label name because I still think there’s something really funny about it, it just didn’t deserve to be as center-stage as the name “Smilley.”
Who would you say are your biggest musical inspirations and why?
I’m obsessed with artists who are able to do whatever the hell they want in a way that reflects who they are as people. In terms of my attitude toward music, I’m so beyond fascinated by bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and recently The Mars Volta because they just go out there and make the music they want to make without trying to match any expectations. For my approach, I take great inspiration from people who are able to do their own solo stuff. I’m really inspired by Dallon Weekes, Nick Rattigan, Donald Glover, Will Toledo and Sloan Strubleー those types of people. They take initiative on the vision they have for their projects and they’re able to develop their ideas into a full sound on recordings. I also love Phoebe Bridgers, Black Country New Road, Frank Ocean, Fall Out Boy, and I’ve recently fallen in love with the new JPEGMAFIA/Danny Brown collab album that came out this year.
Describe your sound in three words.
Nostalgic, fun, sometimes-kind-of-depressing
You released your debut album, Stay Well! last month, could you lead me through the process of creating and releasing it?
It took such a long time. Some of the songs on this album like “The Siren Song” and “Wait” I’ve had in the vault for almost five years. I wrote all of these songs throughout my four years of high school, a good number of them chronicling my life before, during, and after an unhealthy relationship I was in that had a super significant impact on my high school life. Originally, I wanted this album to just be me with no one else playing on it and all production being handled by me. I had the vision in my head for each song but I didn’t have the energy to give it my all the way that I wanted to or the amount of production and mixing knowledge that I needed in order to complete the album the way I heard it in my head. Around six or seven months ago, I realized that I needed to ask for help. By far the biggest lesson that making and finishing this album taught me is that it’s always okay to ask for help. Basically, this album went from “it can only be Miles” to “all hands on deck,” and I wouldn’t have this album any other way. My friends’ contributions ultimately shaped the album into what it is today. Even my family contributed to the albumー my brother and mom bookend the album respectively and my sister contributed vocals to “All You’re Gonna Get.” Even though 90% of the instruments are still played by me, I see this album as the result of a bunch of my friends coming together to contribute their skills to something that turned out super freaking cool.
How did it feel to finally release your album?
Before it came out, I felt like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up a hill. These songs were just weighing down on me because I had no means of finishing the album. After it came out, an immense weight was lifted off of my back. I would spend hours convincing myself that this music would never see the light of day because I just didn’t have it in me to finish it. I was scared. I showed the album to one of my college professors and when I told him I’d been working on this album for nearly five years, he responded “Holy shit dude! That’s a quarter of your life.” That’s when it really hit me how long it had been and how big that weight I was carrying around was. It feels so beyond rewarding to be able to hand someone a CD of this album. These songs are actually done and out and in the real world now. It’s the best feeling ever.
Do you have a favorite song on your new album? If so, which one and why?
I think all of these songs have had their turn as my favorite on the album, but my current favorite is “Wait”. That song has gone through such a tremendous journey and the final product is so much more glorious and grand than I ever could have imagined.
What do you think sets you apart from other up-and-coming indie artists?
I will always put my audience first. I hate when artists put up an invisible wall between them and the audience or act like the audience just straight up isn’t there. The audience is the reason you have a career. At my shows, I will talk to you both during and after the show. I will make you feel like you’re a part of the show and not just that I’m on stage in front of you performing my songs for your face. Another musician I look up to, Avi Kaplan, once told me, “At a certain point, your songs don’t belong to you anymore. Once they’re out, they belong to whoever listens to them and gives the songs their own personal meaning.” I took that to heart. My shows aren’t just me, they’re everyone who just so happens to be in that room with me for the time that I’m on stage. In terms of my music itself, I always try my hardest to be authentically me in my music. Everything you hear is a detail I’ve obsessed over for hours if not days on end. I always try to give 110% of myself to whoever is listening or watching.
Do you have any musical plans for the remainder of the year?
I’m playing a few shows while I’m back in LA for the next few months, then when I get back to Boston for school I’m playing even more shows with my East Coast band. I’ve been getting back into writing recently and I feel more rejuvenated than ever to create and touch some musical ground that I haven’t covered yet. I’ve been really inspired by blink-182’s “Untitled” album recently so some of that rawer but louder sound might bleed through. I also want to have a more dynamic range of sound that I cover, so there might be some songs that are super duper quiet and restricted to only a few elementsーnew experiments. I can already tell my next project is gonna be ambitious, so it’s only a matter of time before those pieces start falling together.