Miles Coleman’s Wing Vilma project has been a long-time staple of the Grand Rapids music scene, at least for me. Wing Vilma performs a heavily layered, groove-driven form of electronic music, that never sacrifices its sense of wonder as its strives to create dense, mystical soundscapes. It’s also nice to hear exceptional electronic music in a scene so populated by rock bands. Miles released his first album as Wing Vilma, Safe By Night, this past February. Since then, Miles has been incredibly active musically and personally. I talked to Miles about his album release and recent tour, as well as moving to Detroit and working for music label Young Heavy Souls.
So you released your debut album Safe by Night, on Young Heavy Souls in February. I’ve watched your project grow for a while now, and this is a long time coming for you. Do you want to tell me a little bit about what it was like to make this record, and how you feel about its reception?
Miles Coleman: “So this record was really something I’ve been working on for… 2 or 3 years. I was sitting down one day about a year ago to look through what I’d made and try and figure out what was going to become “Wing Vilma”… I realized I had a whole record. Without thinking about it too much I had created something pretty comprehensive and expressive of the my influences at the time. There was a long time where I rejected the idea of including music I’d made with vocals in my electronic projects, but as I realized I was trying to find a new title for my work I realized it didn’t make sense to put limitations on what this project can be.
“Wing Vilma” as a title is sourced from the mind of a child, and I want the music to reflect the borderless frame of mind a child sees the world through. I’m hoping that as I keep working on this project I remove more and more of the mental blocks brought on by social conditioning of adulthood.”
So you’re on tour right now. How is that going? How did that tour come about? What’s it like presenting your music to people who have never heard it before?
“Tour is sick!! I love getting around and gigging more than I ever have before. I’m finding the confidence to play shows in unpredictable spaces and under unpredictable conditions and it’s been so fulfilling to rise to that challenge. When it’s just me going out to play these shows, I can’t think about it too much. I’ve just been booking myself as many gigs as I can, but I didn’t even set out to be having a tour initially. I just booked a bunch of gigs and before I knew it I was traveling! It’s been great getting around the Midwest. I love playing small towns and meeting people who’ve never heard of my music…. Playing New York last year was fun, but that’s like… the idea of a show, almost. There’s real traction in playing small town house shows. People genuinely care.”
You recently moved to Detroit. How did that move come about? How has that change affected your musical endeavors?
“Moving to Detroit has been an idea since I graduated high school, but I’ve never been ready until this year. Leaving home is hard, but so necessary. I feel more potential here, because nobody knows me. In Grand Rapids I had found myself at a point where I was working in the schools and museums I went to as a kid, and the staff hadn’t necessarily changed since I was a kid and it made me feel crazy hahaha. So, yeah, Detroit is wonderful. I’m feeling very driven to focus on my passions here. I might even go to school again, who knows.”
You work for Detroit-based music label Young Heavy Souls now. What’s your role like there? Similarly, what do they do for you, as both your employer and your music label? What’s it like working for the label that also publishes your music?
“Sometimes working or the label I work with can be hard. It’s not always easy to draw concrete lines on what is paid label work, and what is unpaid creative work for myself. I’m learning a lot about what it takes to promote and run a healthy label. Knowing that so many artists other than myself are relying on the work we do to make their releases successful is a demanding idea, but it feels good to hear artists we work with express confidence in the way we show their work. Branding is wild, but also fun. I’m so excited about the upcoming releases we have been working on, and without saying too much… we’re going world wide this year.”
You recently announced preorders for the vinyl edition of your album. What does it mean to you to have your music released on that format? How did that opportunity come about?
“Vinyl has always been a goal for us, and the level of support this album has received on bandcamp has been so tangible and has felt so grassroots that we just felt confident that people who have been enjoying the record would want to own in physically, and that the people who catch me on tour would too. Vinyl feels so much more tangible to me than anything else and I’ve always loved picking up a record I love, handing it to a friend and just saying “take a look at this” or “let’s spin this one I think you’ll love it”. Like… that’s amazing! That’s how I connect with something usually. I’m excited to think people might have the same experience with what I’ve made, and the design is gorgeous too so I really can’t wait to get my hands on it.”
I saw that you also recently had the opportunity to curate a mix for Slow Breathing Circuit. How did that opportunity come about? How did you select the music you wanted to feature?
That mix was a great opportunity to showcase what I’ve been listening to, and premier some amazing new music from my friends. I also leaked a recording from a band I previously played keyboards for, but which had never been heard by anyone but us. It’s almost irrelevant if it means anything to anyone but me, but I think it does honestly. Slow Breathing Circuit reaches out to me and specifically asked for a mix, and the direction I took it in felt like the most exciting way for me to give them something comprehensive. I love making mixes. Hopefully someone else asks to hear what music i like sometime soon.
You’ve been making music for a long time but ‘Wing Vilma’ is a newer moniker for your work. What does the future hold for this project? Where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I feel good about this title. I feel confident it’s a title I could use for years and years without feeling constrained by my past works. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. The name represents something bigger than myself. It’s an expression of child like thinking, and that is what makes the possibilities feel so endless. Hopefully I do something I don’t yet expect.
Preorder the vinyl edition of Wing Vilma’s Safe By Night here: https://wingvilma.bandcamp.com/
Check out Wing Vilma’s Slow Breathing Circuit mix here: https://slowbreathingcircuit.com/2018/03/09/slow-breathing-circuit-mix-007-wing-vilma/