Landon Lloyd Miller – interview
With a hypnotic Roy Orbison-like voice, former The Wall Chargers frontman Landon Lloyd Miller is embracing folk tradition with his debut solo album Light Shines Through, which has the Louisiana native revisiting his own musical roots, including crafting songs on the instrument where it all began, the piano.
Light Shines Through is available now on Twin Mesa.
I recently sat down with Miller to discuss creative patience, hidden swagger rock, and accepting those versions of yourself to come.
AH: We are just a few days away from the release of your debut solo album, Light Shines Through. What kind of emotions are you juggling with as you build up to this moment in your creative and personal life?
LLM: I’m relieved to finally have something that I can stand on as representation of my music. I’m really proud of these songs and think people will identify with them. I’m just grateful to be lucky enough to have captured them this way and be able to record and do what I love. It’s gratifying to be able to share that with others and connect with them in a vulnerable way.
AH: How did the experience of putting together the songs for this album (and the album itself) differ from your days in The Wall Chargers. Did going the road alone feel creatively isolating at times, or, freeing?
LLM: I had a lot of songs to choose from while putting this album together. I record a lot and have been getting better about being patient with releasing. Ultimately I decided to trust others and listen to feedback before finalizing the track list. It feels like a healthy combination of what I loved about The Wall Chargers and what I can do in solitude.
AH: Labels are labels. We seem to have to call everything what it is or isn’t for the sake of being able to talk about it. With that said, your music is being called Americana, but does it feel that way to you? Or, is it just Landon Lloyd Miller?
LLM: I don’t mind the term Americana, but I’m not sure it has an absolute definition. I have folk roots that flirt with indie-rock. Lyrical dreamy (dad-rock). Of course, I could show you songs I’ve written that qualify as other genres, but ultimately I think that what I can pull off solo is heavier on the lyrics, which are ultimately folk tradition, and the foot I plan to put forward. Maybe later on my audience will have the headspace to accept my darker, swagger-driven pysch rock side and I can release other concept albums.
AH: What would someone learn about you in sitting down to listen to this album front to back?
LLM: Light Shines Through is a conglomerate of my deep feels. I like to think the record conveys an emotional mediation on the path of melancholy to personal triumph. It is a reminder to give oneself grace and to not be afraid of the next version of yourself.
AH: Putting out a solo album can be daunting for some people because the spotlight is shining on you in every facet, from the songwriting to the storytelling. Where were you the most hesitant in your journey in bringing Light Shines Through to life, and have you since overcome those creative insecurities?
LLM: The battle for me in this season was being comfortable releasing music under my own name. It just feels so definitive and personal. Other band names I’ve released music under let me walk away when I feel different from the material, but I’ve put the brand on this one and have to live with it. Ultimately, coming to grips with that insecurity has been very cleansing for me and lifted a great weight of self-actualization crisis.
AH: So often we, the listener, only focus on the end product. We hear the songs and that’s what we take away. But for you, there are weeks and months and sweat and tears that goes into making a record. What will you carry with you through the rest of your career when you look back on the process of making Light Shines Through?
LLM: The lesson I learned with this one is that less is more. I feel more comfortable recording with fewer instruments and letting emptiness be comfortable. Also, these songs were recorded at a home studio and I think it shows. I really believe in home recording and think that that environment can make for excellent natural charm and a good vibe that really ages well.
AH: When we go back—way back—what kind of soil do your musical roots rest in? Did music find you or did you find music?
LLM: Performance and music have a big part in my family. My mom was a choir director in Louisiana during my upbringing. She played piano in the gospel and classical styles. We went to a lot of weddings and funerals and tent revivals. She started in the orchestra pits in rural Oklahoma, wrote her own gospel songs and went on tour.
Songwriting was natural for me and I started doing it as soon as I started exploring instruments around 13 years old. Music was safe at our house. I took piano lessons first, but then eventually got a drum set, which really put me on a path of being able to collaborate with others and learn to haul equipment. Eventually I started fumbling on the guitar, because of the mobility and short learning curve for a vessel to songwrite.
AH: What would the Landon who first picked up a guitar think of Light Shines Through if he had a chance to listen to it back then?
LLM: He would be surprised that I finally wrote some songs on the piano. He also would likely feel that these songs were too quiet and didn’t have enough rage or young energy.
AH: Beyond music, you are also a winemaker. What pairs best with a Light Shines Through listening party?
LLM: Excellent question. I would recommend either a Rioja from Spain or a Tannat from Uruguay.
AH: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
LLM: Absolutely! I’m a big fan of any future vision. Would love to know what ended up working and what not to waste my time worrying about. I expect I’ll end up having some recording laboratory in the mountains and be hosting my friends for creative retreats while drinking excellent vino.
To get your hands on Light Shines Through and learn more about the man responsible, visit www.landonlloydmiller.com.
Landon Lloyd Miller interview