Miles Graham told David Hennessy about his upcoming London headline show, narrowly missing out on being Ireland’s Eurovision hopeful and the time he was very close to asking Gary Barlow for a million quid.
If things had gone slightly differently, Miles Graham would be representing Ireland at the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin on Thursday 14 May.
But his misfortune is London’s gain.
The Clondalkin singer- songwriter plays The Grace, Highbury Corner on Friday 6 May with support from BBC Radio 1 DJ Gemma Bradley, who recently MC’d London’s Trafalgar Square celebrations, and Irish- Ghanian singer AIS.
Miles’ music has long been championed by well known DJs such as Laura Whitmore, Cerys Matthews and the late Terry Wogan.
Miles’ music boasts elements of soul, R&B and pop and he recently bidded to represent Ireland at Eurovision 2022 with his song Yeah We’re Gonna Get Out of It.
Of course with a title like that, the track was written in lockdown but had an unmistakable hopeful flavour delivered by a jubilant brass and trumpet solo played by members from Amy Winehouse’s original touring brass ensemble.
But the real charm of the song comes from Miles’ kids who, as he was working from home, have their voices featured on the track.
Miles told The Irish World: “I started writing songs and they were kind of singing along to the song in the background.
“They don’t sing all of my songs, you know?
“They were singing this one so and it just sounded so good so I pulled up a mic and recorded them on it.
“The song was there and it created a bit of a buzz with the producers Paul Herman (Co- writer of Thank You by Dido) and Justin Broad (producer of Emeli Sande and Jessie J).
“They were really excited about it and got working on it with me.
“Then the Euro song contest kind of came up and it just seemed kind of fitting.
“So yeah, that’s how it kind of ended up with that opportunity.
“It’s the biggest song competition in the world really.
“I’m a songwriter first and foremost.
“I was very proud of the song and proud of how the whole thing kind of went.
“Second’s not too shabby.”
Was entering a song for the Eurovision something that may have occurred to Miles before? “I’ve entered songs down through the years but hadn’t done in a good number of years.
“As a songwriter, I’m quite eclectic and write songs that I wouldn’t necessarily sing myself.
“The good thing about it was it was actually quite my own style as well.
“I didn’t leave my own genre and just try to do your usual kind of Eurovision type song.
“I was pretty proud of the song and I had planned to release it anyway.
“I didn’t think I was- You know, some people might think you’re kind of selling out a little bit.
“I was pretty proud of it.”
It was Brooke Scullion from Derry who pipped Miles to the post after all six acts had performed on a special Eurovision edition of The Late Late.
Miles’s forthcoming show at The Grace will be his first London headline show.
“I’m really looking forward to this gig we have coming, amazing special guests one which was just actually confirmed today.
“Ais is an Irish singer- songwriter who I’ve worked with for the last few years.
“She’s amazing and then we’ve just confirmed Gemma Bradley.
“She’s another beautiful voice and singer- songwriter.
“She’s also a Radio One DJ.
“So yeah, it’s looking to be a great night of original music.
“I’ve been an admirer of her voice. Same with AIS as well.
“They will really complement each other.
“I’m hoping we can all do a song together maybe the end of the night.
“It will be nice, a three- part harmony.
“Personally I’m looking forward to seeing AIS and Gemma in action and I’m really excited about them playing on the same stage.
“It’s been such a hard slog for the last couple of years without any live music.
“I haven’t played in London since 2017.
“I actually played Maida Vale for the BBC Radio 2 Day Out which was pretty cool.
“But that was a great gig though, enjoyed that.
“They had Trevor Nelson and Gary Barlow was there giving a talk as well.
“It’s funny. One of the things that stuck with me- and I was the only performer there actually for the day- He said, ‘For releasing a single now’- not even an album, a single- ‘You need a million quid budget to break it’.
“I was very close to asking him had he a loan of a million quid, ‘Any chance?’
“I’m really looking forward to this show.
“I’m excited about playing some new material as well which I haven’t put out there yet.
“There’s so many songs that I haven’t released yet, because I haven’t got a million quid,” he laughs.
It was in 2018 that Miles got his first chance to perform on The Late Late Show.
Playing on the Friday night staple should have been a joy but it came at a time when Miles was struggling due to the collapse of his marriage.
Miles told us before how he got through the performance before falling to pieces in the dressing room.
Was his more recent appearance on the show a nicer return to the Friday night talk show?
“Yeah, it definitely was a nicer occasion than the last time.
“The Late Late, my TV debut in 2018, was actually the abortion referendum so it was a tough kind of show.
“Obviously I had my own kind of personal break up situation going on so that was tough.
“But I was pretty proud of the performance and this time around I just took it more with a pinch of salt and just tried to enjoy it a little bit more.
“I wonder will I get the hat-trick on The Late Late? If they’ll let me back on there again?”
“AIS’ second appearance on The Late Late Show was with myself for the Euro song. AIS does backing vocals as well in my band.
“She was actually on with Mary Black a week or two before.
“So she is already up to two appearances within a couple of weeks.
“So we’re in a battle who is gonna get the hat-trick.
“My money’s on AIS anyway.”
Miles recently performed on Laura Whitmore’s BBC radio show. This was his second time as he made a 2020 appearance when he reworked Dido’s Thank You for those on the front line.
But Miles and Laura go much further back than that as both of them had worked on RTE’s song writing reality show The Hit years ago.
“I was on a TV show about song writing in Ireland way back. She was presenting it. That was the first time I met her and then just pure randomly, I think it was one of the first times I was over in London, I was in Camden just coming out of the underground and just literally bumped into her. I was like, ‘Hey Laura’, and then we just got chatting again, catching up.
“I just told her I was playing a show and she came along to the show, kind of promoted me from then on really and supported anything that I’ve done since.”
Is Laura invited to this upcoming gig then? “Of course. Obviously, I don’t know (if she’s going to make it). She’s a busy woman with a newborn babby as well.
“Be great if she could make it down. Of course she’s invited.”
Originally from Clondalkin and now based in Co. Sligo, Miles was a guest on Weekend Wogan on BBC Radio 2 in 2015 with the legendary broadcaster Terry Wogan.
“I just remember being in the studio and Terry Wogan’s voice talking to me.
“In my brain I was just thinking, ‘Terry Wogan’s talking to me. What am I going to say? This is Terry Wogan. He’s actually talking to me and he’s asking me a question right now’.
“He was such a legend and we had heard his voice for so many years.
“Even like his TV show, you know?
“Back then if you had got on his TV show, you had made it. That was pretty much the climax of your career.
“So I was obviously over the moon to be on his radio show at any stage.
“Obviously I was nervous to come pretty much from nowhere to doing a showcase in London and being invited on Weekend Wogan.
“He just made you feel at home straightaway.
“He had these little cakes, homemade cakes that he said he made himself.
“He was like, ‘Keep the blood sugar’s up, guys. Keep the blood sugars up’.
“He was such a friendly guy, so warm.
“It felt like that was his home we were coming into, the studio.
“Had a good chat with him.
“And sat down and had a chat with him after the show and he was just so lovely and he asked me for my CD.
“It was so sad. I think it was a year later that he passed away.
“But I’ll be forever for the opportunity.”
Miles got a massive break when he wrote 1994 with a group called L’Tric and Dutch DJ Don Diablo which went to number two in the UK dance charts.
He has collaborated with L’Tric more recently with the dance track She is Gold which was written about his sister.
“I just have one sister so it was just about the importance of her and what she’s done for me in my life so it was nice to put that one out there.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing talents.
“I’m always looking to do that, to continue to do that.
“It’s kind of funny music how you evolve as an artist as well down through the years.
“But I still haven’t done an album yet.
“A couple of EPs out there and some dance kind of remixes and collaborations which is a whole other world that I unintentionally got into but I really enjoyed at the same time.”
Miles Graham plays The Grace, with support from AIS and Gemma Bradley, on Friday 6 May.
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