A lot has happened in the roughly 12 months since City Paper first wrote about Amir Miles, a fledgling alt-R&B artist who had recently dropped out of college to focus on his music full time.
A year ago, he had just scored a gig as the opening act for GZA, of the Wu-Tang Clan, at the Rex Theater, and his tunes were gaining traction online. His newest song, “Bad Habits,” had received 60,000 online streams in a single day — pretty good for a new artist guiding his own career. He knew he would build upon those successes; he just didn’t know how much or how quickly.
“Dude, it’s been awesome,” Miles tells CP. “After I was on the cover of CP, I got a great gig with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and started opening up for a lot of different bands, did some house shows and opened up for [hip-hop trio] Migos at WVU. I released a new single through an indie-record label, and then in September, I released my EP, Face*Less. And after that, I got the call.”
That call was from Capitol Records. The label loved the EP, which hit a million streams in January, and signed Miles to a three-single distribution deal.
“Apparently, they had been following me since ‘Bad Habits’ blew up,” says Miles, about the single that has now been streamed nearly a million times. “That’s how major labels work these days. They don’t go to shows, you don’t reach out to them. They go online and see what music people are listening to
“Once the EP hit and it did well, they realized, ‘Hey, this kid can write more than one or two good songs.’”
Miles recently released the first single in that deal, “Neon//Love,” and in March, he played his first headlining gig, selling out The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls, along with his long-time producer NXFCE.
“It was an amazing experience,” Miles says of the Funhouse show. “I’m on that stage, and people are singing along to my songs. That’s happened a couple times, maybe they know a song. But this was a big crowd, and they’re singing along, and they know the words to all of my songs.
“When I saw that, it hit me that people really like what I was doing. My songs were getting into their heads, and they were sticking. I first started writing music because I thought it would be fun, and girls would like me. But it’s so much more than that now. I’m connecting with a lot of people through my music, and that feels pretty special.”