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South London stalwart Miles from Kinshasa talks the brilliance of N.E.R.D, writing with intention and finding growth through injury.

Introduction written by Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)

Questions devised by Bridget Eke (@bridgeteke)

For Congolese-born Miles from Kinshasa, music is one of many ways in which he exercises his artistic dexterity. Oozing authenticity, the Londoner’s experimental flair has devised a sound that he can sit handsomely in, waiting for people to try and copy. Back after a two-year hiatus, the singer-rapper-songwriter released his latest EP if not now, then when last month to underground acclaim. Produced entirely by kadiata, the project soundscapes a journey of love and accountability, where MFK delivers his verses with intention.

Steering through a range of sonics, where no two sounds are revisited, the wordsmith revs up his serenading vocals and lures listeners into the countless stories he tells. Previous single ‘Glitchin’ opens the project, living up to its title with cyber synth melodies and off-kilter rumba rhythms. Leaving little time for listeners to reflect, ‘Don’t Be an Opp’ follows with some of kadiata’s best production to date and a killer hook from MFK. He howls the track’s title with an R&B flair, speaking to companionship and the pursuit of idolatry.

An eclectic ear, MFK’s contagiousness doesn’t stop there. Across the seven tracks, he remains compelling thanks to a natural charm and wit. In June, he’ll be playing a two-date European tour, taking to London and Paris for an exclusive run of shows. No stranger to the Parisian quarters, the artist has been a Martine Rose muse for some time and has subsequently built a dedicated fanbase across the Atlantic.

To honour the record’s release, we spoke with Miles from Kinshasa about the brilliance of N.E.R.D, writing with intention and finding growth through injury. Tap in below.

Hi Miles from Kinshasa, how are you? Where are you in the world right now and what’s it like there?

I’m blessed thank you, hope you’re well too. I'm in London and it’s giving spring right now so things are looking up.

Let’s start by rolling back the years. What type of music were you around growing up and what is one of your earliest musical memories?

My parents are quite eclectic actually, so it was a blend of Congolese rumba, zouk, British pop, gospel as well as the greats like Michael Jackson, George Michael and Whitney Houston. As I started to form my own tastes it ranged from pop acts like Dido to southern rap like Master P.

One of my favourite memories is when my cousin burned me a copy of N.E.R.D - In Search Of…. I remember my brain being so confused that a Black guy was making this kind of music. It was mad refreshing and I might still have that CD, actually.

You are a South London native: what about living in a city like London influences you? You’ve got a wealth of friends who are rappers, singers and producers. What is it about where you’re from that produces such a wealth of talent?

For me, it’s the different perspectives we all have on the city despite frequenting the same places and all the small details in between. I love coming across how our lives intertwine in London. It's interesting. There’s a lot you can talk about if you just pay attention.

I think with a lot of these artists we all share the same desire to better ourselves despite our circumstances and we’re using our real-life experiences to do it; people can relate to that. You can’t buy that stuff and in turn, it produces good art.

Let’s move on to your amazing new EP, congratulations on its release! What is the inspiration behind its title, “if not now, then when”, and what does it mean to you?

Thank you! It’s a real affirmation to myself as well as demanding an urgency too. It’s this energy that I want to be carrying moving forwards you know, well as much as I can discipline myself too I guess.

Was there a particular part of making the project that you enjoyed the most? We’re big kadiata fans so it was great to see him producing the record. Can you describe your relationship with him both as a friend and as a musician?

I think the songwriting on this project was probably my favourite part because you can hear how much care we took on every line.

kadiata and I have been working together for a very long time, so when he might demand a bit more from me I know it’s always with the right intention and the results show on this project.

Tell us about ‘Don’t be an Opp II’, what a great remix! Why did you decide this track needed a refresh? Everybody kills their respective verses too, how did you go about selecting its features? Did the order come naturally or was it hard picking it?

Big love! I never like to go back to the same sound twice but I knew the original was classic and the remix was the moment you’ll remember. The two songs are forever tied together and I like that.

We played around with the order a bit but this just felt right and I think in the end it works in a way where you definitely listen the whole way through. Everyone had input on this. We studied remixes like lean back, touch it, private caller etc too as reference points.

Is there a theme from the project that you expect your audience to resonate with most? Why do you think this will be so?

The more I listen back to the project I feel like it’s a project about setting and maintaining boundaries. I’m constantly seeing what I should do but am I doing it or falling back into the same traps and we can relate to this daily.

Everything that you make seems to be made with clear intentions in mind. Why is this important to you? Where do you find yourself being your most creative and able to write lyrics?

You can’t waste an opportunity to say something worthwhile if someone gives you their time to listen, so you've got to make it count. I used to be very ambiguous as it’s much easier to do that but being clear requires intention. I had to learn that.

I can write anywhere but my best writing happens in a studio setting, at home, or elsewhere. I work well under pressure even though it can be daunting, but it gets the best out of me every time.

In your latest visuals for the 'if not now, then when' mini-documentary, there is a scene where you have your cast removed after tearing your Achilles. What was the recovery process like and how did you transfer the energy to your music?

Yeah, you’re tapped in; I respect that. It’s a tough injury. I won't lie every day was frustrating early on but the parallels between that recovery and creating something worthwhile are similar - both take time.

I treated the injury like I was an athlete. I did the reps I was supposed to every day and then opened logic to put some more reps into the art and eventually it became a process rather than a hindrance. I needed the growth, I just didn’t know that it would come from this injury.

What are some future milestones that you look forward to achieving? More currently, is there anything that Miles from Kinshasa is manifesting for 2023?

If I’m honest I don’t have any set milestones. I didn't even write a single goal for this year. I just want to make sure that I do what I know I’m supposed to do and everything will work out how it should.

A trip to Tokyo this year would be amazing though.

And to wrap up, What does the legacy that you want to leave look like? What type of artist would you like to be in the future?

I just want to live up to my potential and do good for my people. The art, in whatever medium, will ultimately do the talking.


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