Ones to Watch (No 9) – Miles Sagnia

Miles Sagnia is a man of integrity both in and out of the musical realm, be it with his lovingly crafted deep house productions or his work in the mental health sector and with the homeless. You might already know Miles as one half of acid house duo Living City with Toby Slade-Baker, but he’s recently decided to go it alone in the studio, with a release on Keith Worthy’s esteemed Aesthetic Audio label showcasing his extraordinary talent. We caught up with Miles to speak about UK hardcore, running his own label and what it’s like hearing your track played at Panorama Bar.

Introduce yourself – tell us a bit about your musical upbringing…

I’m Miles Sagnia. I grew up learning classical music, creating compositions, playing violin & piano from 5, then into early teens I found a lot of music through my older brothers, who passed on music, all sorts. Jazz, funk, Northern Soul, pop stuff, hip-hop, along with loads of film soundtrack tapes. I remember some of those being quite trippy, almost akin to music of today like Boards of Canada and Bola… I had lots of rave tapes (circa 88-91) which I absorbed. That was the start of the electronic stuff, passing tapes between mates, hanging out in record shops. I had a lot of early UK acid house and Detroit techno on tape, with of old funk and soul mixes, all being favourites. I bought a lot of early UK hardcore on vinyl, early Jungle. I was really into that dark stuff for a few years back then, I think it was mainly what all the shops stocked where I hung out.

You’ve been DJing and producing for many years now, why have you decided to start producing under your own name?

I started off playing on my own, from about 1996, playing local gigs based around the Cambridge Area. I won the Mixmag DJ Competition in 2000 after sending in a tape with a 30 minute mix, pulled out from about a 1000 tapes which blew me away. I remember putting on stuff like Circulation, Prescription Records, Chicago stuff merged with some UK layered bits from Jackpot records, Mosaic records, stuff like that. Nothing too programmed. I started to get more plays around the UK with the odd gig abroad. After forming Living City for several years, there were many changes in my own life, so it felt natural to really let myself go for it in the lab and performing, you know, go off on tangents, ponder, reflect, shape sound, experiment a little more, all in my own personal domain. I find it very moving writing and playing music and it felt right to do it. Maybe it’s getting to 31 and being together doing things for a decade. I feel like I’m entering a fresh period.

Are you still doing anything as Living City?

We plan to get back in the lab when we can, although time is a battle. I’m cracking on with my own stuff all the while, focusing on gigs, and my label. We’re both fairly busy, Toby works as a music supervisor in the city and I work in mental health and with the homeless, trying to get by on the pitiful salary of it. Not being in the same location anymore has made it a little more tricky. Living City serves as a conduit for all our joint endeavours…

What was it like releasing an EP on Keith Worthy’s label? How did that come about?

Well it’s been a great experience in every way. Keith is a great guy and a good friend now. He’s been so supportive of my work. It all came about from speaking to my mate Matt Pond (Deepsystems) from Brighton, who suggested I send Keith Some material. That was it. We then Spoke a lot on the phone, then met at Fabric. We speak regularly and meet up to kick it when we can… Funnily enough Matty sold me “Emotional Content” on Aesthetic Audio, by Keith, when he worked in the now closed Hedonizm Records in Brighton, when I lived there a few years back..

How is your won A.E.R imprint going? How much do you have to do with the day to day running of the label?

I deal with the day to day running of the label and a lot of aspects of it. I used to run a record shop, so it’s not too bad. I have a small team who are dedicated, headed up by my girlfriend Emily, who has vast amounts of previous agency related experience which included the running of Steve Lawler’s artist roster VIVa MUSiC. It’s great fun and we enjoy working together. It’s brings a great balance to our relationship. It would be great to be able to focus on the label and gigs, generate more work. ‘Doing the daily shake for the man’ does take it’s toll though…

What have you got coming out next?

There’s another EP I’m working on for Keith’s label currently. I’ll be focusing on the next release for A.E.R. a great new project, along with a few concepts being planned. Starting work on an LP as well, a long standing vision coming to light.

Is there anyone you really want to remix/work with?

When I mess about doing edits of this and that, I find I like to just take anything and make something out of it, that’s the way I roll. I sculpt stuff and reshape,  then sometimes do it again. If somebody approaches me with a remix project, I need to vibe with the people / label, then I’ll make best of whatever the parts are. I don’t really have any burning desire to remix or work with anyone in particular, just see how it goes really. It’s all about the music. I hear things all the time and think, I’d love to maybe take that out, work around that sound, augment it, vibe off it and create something fresh.. Inevitably, at times, my mind is distracted by other music I hear, all music styles, leaving my head with a scattered pallette of musical moments. I suppose in one way I draw off these moments and it can influence my work.

What other artists are you really feeling at the moment?

A friend called Jonny Gray, he records as ‘Griffin’… He’s been producing for years. I’ve been all over his output of late, really out there house music, the next level kind of stuff, intricate, almost cosmic in quality, I love it. Matt Pond (Bittersuite/Deepsystems) has been conjuring up some true quality as well. Further afield, Conforce has been blowing my mind with some beautiful material, Kirk Degiorgio has always and continues to turn my ears, his ‘Jitter World’  EP a while back on Abstract Forms being a firm favourite, along with the recent ‘Membrane’ for that essential dancefloor moment.. I’m a massive fan of Aybee’s work and have been for many years. His recent remix on Martin’s ‘Atjazz’ label puts me in a state of Zen. Anders Ilar’s work has caught my ears, an earlier cut on Narita records still in my box, along with his ‘Hazard Ahead’ track on the ‘Cellular Memories EP’ recently that has a mad impact on the mind and the dancefloor.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve heard one of your tracks played?

When Patrice Scott dropped “Relativity” at Panorama Bar, it was nice to hear it there with my girlfriend. We hooked up with Keith, Kosta (XDB), Juju & Jordash several months ago back there. They’re all lovely people, which made it such a laugh… Also, when my good friend Alex Downey dropped some other tracks in room 2 at Fabric a little while back it was nice to hear them cranked up on that system. It’s usually only in the DJ booth when I’m playing do I hear my tracks!

What does 2010 hold for Miles Sagnia?

Just pushing forward and keeping positive is the order for 2010! More music to come, hopefully get out playing more again, take the label and the concept to dancefloors…