Alton Miller’s tastefully tempered and most soulful grooves are always a pleasure to experience. And the three new tracks working this latest release are no exception to that thought. Crossing, begins via a heady whirl of stabbing synth lines offset by rolling pads and an invigorating pulse of drums across nine plus minutes of fevered possibility. The self-explanatory, The World Needs Love follows with the vocal posing the question as the flair of jazzier instrumentation answers the call. Leaving the tougher percussion posed by Brooklyn to end on a further satisfying high.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Alton. Let’s start with some of your early musical memories which inspired your path to DJ’ing and producing? Are there a particular songs heard on the radio, or elsewhere, that struck a childhood chord with you?
Hello and how’s it going Magazine Sixty. Yes indeed there were lots of songs that pulled me right in. As a very young kid I listened to the radio every day when I was preparing for school in the morning. In the 70’s every there was fusion of different genres of music being played on the stations that played R&B. I was listening to lots of James Brown, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Stevie Wonder. Bands and artists at this time were very prolific and it seems like the tunes just kept coming. Too many songs to list but I do remember that the things that peaked my interest were fusion. Steely Dan and Parliament Funkadelic. They were and still to this day are masters of fusing different styles of music that created their own sound.
Your new single is: From The Future EP on Roots Underground Records. Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks? Do you have any favourite software/ hardware you always use in the creative process?
I have been using Logic for a very long time. It’s the simplicity in using the software and the sound that I get that keeps me loyal. I use the Retro Synth that come with Logic religiously. I most always start with programming drums first and create melodies from the way the drums flow. Everything starts from the drums.
You have mentioned Ken Collier and Luomo being an important influence. Can you tell us about the music he was playing and what is was about the club that left such an impression?
Ken was a pioneer. He was our Larry Levan. That 1st impression is the one you remember and last the longest. Going to Luomo was my 1st experience inside a true dance club. The sound, decoration, people and the energy that I experienced that night and at that age was life changing. Ken was playing post-disco dance music along with New Wave and imports from Europe and it was incredible. The music reflected the times as it always does.
How would describe the legacy of the Music Institute in Detroit’s history? Are there any lessons you feel could be applied to today’s club culture?
The Music Institute was ground breaking as we bridged the gap between the iconic dance club and the future of things to come, that being Techno and how it became a worldwide phenomenon. Keep it simple. It has always been about the music and the sound. They are the only elements that matter. If those 2 key elements are done well people will commune in the spirit of dance which is the highest form of expression. Without that there is no party. It does not matter how many people. I have played to 40-50 and we got down!!!!!
Seth Troxler said recently that he felt a lot of European dance music was more cerebral, less about Soul. How do you see it?
I have heard and played some incredibly soulful music coming from Europe. There is still incredibly soulful music coming from Europe. I think it’s more about the individual artist and what they are saying artistically. You find what you seek. Do black people make soulful music? Yes we do. Do Europeans make soulful music? Yes they do but not in large numbers. Soul is about what resonates within.
Outside of Dance Music what other Art inspires what you do – in terms of any writers, poets, film-makers, painters etc?
Everything!!!! You said it. Writers, films, painters, dancers. Everything. I can’t make music if I can’t feel the expression that from one’s art or things that I see or experience every day.
(Pre-Covid-19) Where do you get your music from, are there any record stores you would recommend, or is all on-line these days. What are your thoughts on music streaming and the ways artists are able to make a living from music?
All over the World. I really love Moods Music in Atlanta. When I am there I always just go and sit, listen and take in the vibe. It’s a beautiful store!!! Cosmic Arts in Brooklyn is a super dope store!!!!! Again the vibe is spectacular. I buy music that resonates to me and speaks to me as an artist and a DJ. Everything does not speak to me and hence I have never owned a huge record collection. I buy things on-line as well. I think it’s a good thing if an artist can make money.
And finally. What things are you most looking forward to in 2021?
A continued and fruitful musical journey!!!! I finished my album for Sound Signature last year so looking to get things moving in regards to making it fly. Hopefully Covid will cease to keep me from plane hopping and playing some tunes in a city, country, village, town, island near you!!!!
Sometimes, occasionally a record ignites your heart within the first few seconds it plays. Other times it can take repeated listens to fully grasp the idea being conveyed. So I guess it’s that purely emotional point that strikes the right chord here. A Says Hello sets the scene with chiming keys which lift your expectation as the tastefully crafted Kick Drum and rubbery bassline drop into the equation, and from there on in it is pure delight. Cool But So… follows with a Jazzier intention soaring in amongst the shuffling, notable drums with Chaos In The CBD remixing, injecting a more furious energy into its summer grooves. Finally, the poignant thought provoking sequences of Below The Underdog complete this great release of sounds and emotive quality.