2020 proved to be a cusp of transition, not only for the world but for CC Miles, now Sierra Miles, who while in isolation reinvented her persona and her music. In effect, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, she transformed.
CC Miles changed into Sierra Miles.
Entering the recording studio, Sierra’s musical style metamorphosed from pop to darker, edgier alt-rock, music defined by visceral flavors. As she began laying down tracks for a new concept album, entitled The Architect, like Dante on his journey through the Inferno, Sierra immersed herself in raw sensations embodied in innovative lyricism.
On June 10, Sierra releases the first single from The Architect – “Funeral For My Morals” – which will be followed by “When We’re In Hell.” At once intimate and imminent, the implication is: we are all The Architect of our own lives, our dreams, and our world.
Tattoo had the opportunity to listen to and watch the lyric video for “Funeral For My Morals.” Opening on distant tolling bells, followed by Sierra’s deluxe, evocative voice, the song rides low-slung alt-rock textures. Slowly building in resonance and dimension, Sierra’s voice takes on delicious rasping timbres, imbuing the lyrics with irresistible scratchy surfaces.
Tattoo spoke with Sierra Miles to discover more about the person behind The Architect, how she got started in music, the impetus for her shift from pop to alt-rock, and the inspiration for “Funeral For My Morals.”
How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?
I’ve always gravitated towards music, even at a young age. I started taking singing and piano lessons when I was just 6 years old. I’m not sure where the desire came from since there are no other musicians in my family. My dad did play a bit of guitar in high school, but he never pursued it seriously. I started writing songs when I was 12 years old and I released my first EP when I was 13. I fell in love with writing during this time and I’ve been consistently writing and recording since.
Who is your favorite music artist?
My favorite music artist is Freddie Mercury. I’ve watched so many old Queen performances online and Freddie was absolutely amazing. I wish I could go back in time and see him live.
Which musicians/singers influenced you the most?
When I was growing up, I was very influenced by Taylor Swift. She inspired me to start writing my own songs. My music taste has broadened since then and I found myself being very influenced by Jewel, Alanis Morissette, and Melissa Etheridge, and then eventually classic rock bands like Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Aerosmith, and Guns N’ Roses to name a few. You can hear a bit of my later influences in my new music.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I’ve been loving Greta Van Fleet’s new album. I love the classic rock sound they bring back. The Pretty Reckless released a new album this year that I really like too. I also think Miley Cyrus is killing it right now. Rock is really the genre that suits her best in my opinion.
What motivated your shift from pop to raw, edgy alt-rock?
The only newer artists I ever listened to growing up were Taylor Swift and P!nk. Other than that, I listened mostly to ‘90s alternative rock and never knew the songs that my friends listened to or that were popular. I started making pop music because I thought that was what people wanted to hear. It was fun, but it never felt like me. I started covering some rock songs and realized that I was much more comfortable singing them and it was the genre I naturally gravitated towards anyway. Once I started writing rock songs, I knew I would never look back. Electric guitars, real drums, and raspy vocals make me feel a certain way that electronic music never could. The music itself has so much emotion behind it and I can really feel the passion of the musicians. It’s just more special to me.
You have a new album forthcoming, entitled The Architect. What can you share about it?
The Architect is a concept album about subconsciously building a life for yourself that you don’t want. From inviting toxic people into your life, to fighting with your inner demons, to falling in love with people who don’t treat you right and not even treating yourself right, it’s really a story about self-sabotage. But the best thing about realizing that you’ve built a life for yourself that you don’t want is knowing that you have the power to create one that you do. You are the architect.
What was the inspiration for your forthcoming debut single, “Funeral For My Morals?”
“Funeral For My Morals” is loosely inspired by a friend of mine. The title came to me one day and it sounded like something she would say in a self-deprecating way. At first, it was a joke, but as I continued writing the song it became a whole story about pushing the people you love away because deep down you don’t believe you deserve them.
What is your songwriting process? Lyrics first or melody?
Lyrics and melody come together at once for me most of the time, usually when I’m driving. It’s funny because the iPhone voice memo app titles each voice memo whatever street name you’re on, so all my song ideas are saved as random street names in my phone. Then when I get home, I pick up my guitar or sit at the piano and write some chords to fit the melody.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
I grew up playing a Taylor acoustic guitar. Around two years ago I started messing around with my dad’s old electric guitar from high school and I became obsessed with it. He eventually gave me a Strat as a Christmas gift.
Do you use any special recording techniques in the studio?
My favorite technique we used on this project was utilizing the room sound for all the background vocals. It created a haunting operatic sound that fit the songs perfectly.
Why do you make music?
Music is a way for me to express how I’m feeling. Sometimes I’ll be writing a song and I don’t even know what it’s about until I look at it all together at the end and I’m like wow, I didn’t even know that about myself. I always wonder where the ideas come from. But when I look deeper, I find out something new about myself that inspired the song before I was even aware of it. I love to tell stories and even though they are made up sometimes, it’s almost like I learn a lesson and gain a new perspective with each song I write. These stories that I’ve written mean a lot to me and I think they will mean something to other people as well. Maybe they can learn something about themselves that they weren’t aware of either.
Looking ahead, what’s next for Sierra Miles?
After the album releases, I’m really looking forward to putting a tour together. Performing live is something I definitely miss the most right now. But, I’m very grateful to live in a world where I can connect with people in a matter of seconds. I’m excited to share everything about the making of this album and what it means to me with my audience online. I have a feeling that many people will relate to these songs and feel like they aren’t alone during this time in isolation.