Ladies and Gentlemen, my latest piece of coursework as promised . . .
Leo Miles, Southampton’s new kid on the block, gives Rebecca-Elizabeth Austin an enlightening glimpse into his world.
Most musical talents tend to follow in one of two pathways - happy-go-lucky types a la
Boyzone and the Spice Girls or those with couldn’t care less attitudes as sported by Blondie and Iggy Pop. Leo Miles is the first we’ve seen who hides that irritable kind of quick youthful confidence whilst also possessing an old school charm and a dry sarcastic wit. Playful and polite, attractive and memorable, Leo Miles is a new breed of singer-songwriter who’s just starting to make his mark on music street.
By all accounts, the boy at hand has always been a little bit different. For a start, Leo Miles the performer is purely fictitious. Not the physicality - that’s real enough and with people like Voice FM and Angry Badger Records with their eyes on him, it would be best to start taking notes. Leo Miles the pseudonym is the concoction of one ‘ordinary’ student named Callum McDonald. “It’s great really cause if I cock it up - well if Leo Miles cocks it up, then theres still Callum McDonald to fall back on. Besides, no one wants to be known as ‘old McDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o.’”
Reminiscing about the days before the alter-ego fell into place, the young man perched in front of me is so eager to please. He talks of the past, the present and the future whilst revealing some unexpected stories of dance lessons, football legends and brief encounters that ‘Mr Nice’ himself would be proud of.
His mother seems perfectly at ease with the rock’n’roll lifestyle that her youngest child leads. “Seven months ago Callum told me that he wanted to be a singer. I just looked at him and said ‘why not? You’ve already done everything else.’” So why now? “Singing is the only thing that I ever did that was consistent. When I was younger, I wanted to be a footballer and I got to the point where I was actually quite good but then one day I was just like no, I want to be a dancer and then that was it.” In typical ‘lime light’ fashion, Callum McDonald was most certainly made to follow in the footsteps of the latter.
To look at, the singer bares many of the traditional and somewhat stereotypical traits of this generations musician clique. The obligatory checked shirt is stretched across his slightly hunched shoulders, whilst his ‘salmon coloured’ skinny jeans are clinging on to his thick tan belt for all that they can muster. “I’ve kinda lost interest in how I look, especially now. Excuse the cliche and all but I just tend to let the music do the talking.” It’s difficult to stop from laughing at this charming and yet unrequited phrase but by the boy’s coy smile, you can be assured that it was purely said from a dry and humorous point of view. If for whatever reason you aren’t compelled by his try-hard efforts, then know that there’s something very comforting and really rather pleasant about his mouth and the way that everything is said with a timely charm that he’s noticeably all too aware of.
As for the voice itself. Well, there’s further joy to be found there. An almighty herd of kindred spirits and loyal friends are rather jolly by the end of ‘Leo’s’ Friday night gig. Figuratively high from the past 45 minutes, each and every one of them makes it their faithful duty to hint at all of the performers exceptional stand-out qualities, as well as a few vague similarities between Callum and the likes of Jamie T, Paolo Nutini and The Fratellis. Unbeknownst to most, the singer actually holds the records of Rod Stewart close to his chest. “I’m a big fan of Rod. That comes from my dad.” Perfectly plausible as the ‘Maggie May’ singer has been introduced to all of us in very much the same way, we’re sure. As for this young musician, we have no doubt whatsoever that there is any lack of real talent for his part.”Its become really generic to say ‘I’m not trying to be anyone else, I’m my own person.’ But then there are a lot of people who have a lot of . . . a lot of similarities shall we say,” we couldn’t agree more. Its these insightful words of wisdom that you would expect to come from someone that’s well beyond his 17 years.
Amidst the constant string of unexpected eulogies and captivating tales, Callum remains unfazed by all of the tricks and traits from his past that most would be somewhat surprised by. The drugs for instance. A minor addiction and a little substance abuse now plays inspiration to the singers songwriting. “I’m not gonna lie and say it wasn’t a fun point in my life. We did have some good times but it’s just not for me anymore.” The simplicity of this statement puts a lot of perspective into some of the other fickle occurrences that cloud Callums eventful past. What made him decide to stop performing covers and to try putting pen to paper is an interesting one. “I think I kicked the drugs more for songwriting than anything else. For all those people that do it, well thats fine for you cause maybe you just don’t need to use your brain as much as I do.” Any signs of arrogance or naivety are sharply pushed to one side as sincerity and concern make themselves apparent. This touching attribute lingers for a moment longer until it’s lightly replaced by the humorous acceptance of young McDonalds parents, “yeah, no. My mum calls me a crackhead all the time.”
Fast forward six months and Leo Miles is kindly performing the ‘home made material’ of Callum McDonald. As a brand, the Leo Miles name is well pitched amongst a hungry market. The honesty of his lyrics, the rare and melodic tone to his voice, the rugged and handsome appearance: combined with an adolescents ambition, an appreciative maturity and a quintessential English sound. These factors evidently see the arrival of shiny new fans with each and every passing show.
“I think there’s an element of originality to what I do and that in itself is something quite rare within this business. “I don’t like to think that i’m not entertaining or that i’m not doing what I think I do best. I just want people to enjoy the sound of my voice. I mean, I don’t think it’s that bad.” Oh no, Mister Musician. We don’t think that it’s bad at all.
Not too shabby I hope.
The music of Leo Miles can be found right here.
- You'll be hook, line and sinker, I promise.