ToneGym Hero: Miles Walker
ToneGym Hero: Miles Walker

November 17th, 2022

ToneGym Hero: Miles Walker

Guitarist and Part of alternative rock band MEON, Currently living in London, UK, Miles Walker is this month's ToneGym Hero!

Who are you, and Where are you from?

I'm Miles, I’m from Southampton in the UK. I currently live in London.

How did you get into music?

I picked up the violin when I was 7 - I was fortunate that my school offered access to a violin and free lessons for a term, as there are no other musicians in my family, so I’m not sure I would have picked it up otherwise! The school encouraged my parents and me to continue after the term had finished, and my parents bought me a violin. I went through all the ABRSM performance grades and played in orchestras and string ensembles. 

When I was 13, I was given an electric guitar and 5W amp and then got more into rock and metal, becoming obsessed with some of the electric guitar virtuosos: Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen… And I started a band with some friends, and we messed around playing mostly covers for a few years.

I went off to study Mechanical Engineering at university and at the same time stopped playing violin, but I kept in contact with the band, and I used to travel down to London from Cambridge weekly to practice and play gigs. At that point, we’d decided to venture into folk rock, and I started playing more mandolin than guitar (the mandolin is tuned identically to the violin, so this was quite an easy transition!) - our band was called Heronshaw, if you’re interested in that sort of music.

I started working as an Engineer in the automotive industry after university and really stopped playing music for a few years other than the odd wedding or function gig with former bandmates. It wasn’t until covid that I really properly reconnected with it and regained the desire to improve, but also start writing my own music (I had more of a passive role with songwriting for Heronshaw). Still, in good contact with old bandmates, 2 of the others were keen to start playing together again, and we started throwing song ideas around while in lockdown. Once everything opened up again, and we could get together to practice, it wasn’t long before we started recording and releasing music. The band is called MEON, and our music is a blend of classic rock, synth-heavy soul, and catchy blues-inspired hooks!

What do you like to do for fun outside of working on music?

I like getting outside and into the elements, and one of my favorite pastimes is windsurfing. You must balance wind direction and strength, water and air temperature, water state, equipment, and location… When they combine, and you're out on the ocean with your board skipping across the top of the water (“planing”), it’s bliss - and a great workout!

What's your most useless skill or talent?

I can click my tongue surprisingly loud…(almost as loud as the "collect tonecoins" noise). 

What inspires you to keep making music?

I think finding new music that brings out unexpected emotions and reactions in me is very inspiring - I want to create music that has the same effect on others! For example, some music inexplicably moves me to tears, while others make me want to scrunch my face and bang my head.

When I have a riff/progression/melody or lyrics that do that, it’s like a pool of energy that makes me want to pick up the guitar and keep going. Having friends to work with who are doing the same is also inspiring - you are feeding off each other's energy - that’s what making music is about for me.

If you could sit down to a session with any artist, who would it be?

Aside from MEON, I’d love to meet Donald Fagen and quiz him about Steely Dan’s songwriting! 

Any habits you have before starting a session?

For recording sessions, I practice a lot and generally try and figure out a couple of different voicings of the main guitar parts - I'll probably also have an additional guitar part ready (knowing it may or may not get used). For writing sessions with the band, I try to arrive at something new every time - either lyrically or musically - even if it’s not fully formed. The others are such great musicians who’ll grab onto their favorite bits and extrapolate, taking it places I would have never thought of.

What have you been working on lately?

I’ve started taking guitar lessons again with a jazz guitar professor. I'm keen to get better at improvising, mainly because I want to be better at reacting to others' ideas in writing sessions as opposed to improvising live on stage… Though that is also a longer-term goal! I’ve been working harder on ear training too, and I’m noticing the positive effects this has on my ability to adapt to what others are playing (or quickly picking up covers). 

If you could pick one, what would be the theme song of your life?

Fuel Up by Stornoway. I think it’s a beautifully written song, and I love the stories they tell in their music. It has always managed to stay relevant to me in the 12 years since its release. “When your days are darker, put your foot down harder…”.

What's your favorite musical instrument?

The guitar, of course! It’s such a versatile format - chords, melodies, rhythm and lead parts, percussive playing… and the ability to manipulate the strings in a very direct way. I think the piano/keyboard - for similar reasons - is a close second.   

What's your favorite ToneGym feature?

I like the Solfegiator and Interval Barks gym games at the moment, as I can feel the most improvement from working on them - I think this is unique to ToneGym too. The community aspect of the app is great, too (same for SoundGym)! 

What does the future hold for Miles Walker? 

I’d love to be able to perform more with MEON and continue to write and enjoy making music with friends!

Comments:


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Super!!!!
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Colin Aiken
Nov 19
Very cool. I'd love to talk with Donald Fagen as well. Always been a big Steely Dan fan. Good luck to you and your band.
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Miles Walker
Nov 19
A fellow Dan fan! Thank you @Colin Aiken

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