17 QUESTIONS WITH
Hometown: Originally from New York, grew up in Hollywood
Can you tell me about your family background?
I come from a really, really large family but I grew up with just my mom. My dad left before I was born, so I was raised in a single-parent household. I never met my dad.
I would like to find him one day...I feel like I have a lot of mental preparation I have to do before I meet him. There are so many things that could happen when I finally meet my dad. We could end up fighting, we could end up crying, or we could end up yelling. It's a big thing; I am becoming a man now so meeting the guy who is suppose to teach you how to be a man and never was there. There is a lot of anger there and just a lot of conflicting emotions. I think it is really important in my development as a man to meet my dad and get closure on the issue. I am not at the point where I feel I am ready to tackle that yet.
How does the fact you didn't have a dad in your everyday life affect you as a individual?
I have to grow up faster and I have to be my own man. At eight, I was already doing everything myself pretty much. I was going out on my own at thirteen and coming home at four in the morning after a night out with my friends. It forces you to be very independent from others. My mom works all the time to support me, so no one was around besides my mom to take care of me. Sometimes I wish I had siblings but I always have lots of friends that are older than me, so they all kind of become my big brothers. I think the idea of having siblings comes and goes for me. I don't know what it would be like to have them, of course. I wonder about it, but at the same time, it is never gonna happen. I often wonder what would happen if my mom got married again and they decided to have a kid. I was thinking that it would be quite weird since I am 19 now. I am very protective of my mom, so I don't usually get close to the guys she dates cause I don't trust them. She does what she wants.
How did the career in modeling come about?
I did some modeling when I was younger but I hated it because it was in LA and it was such a cattle call and so many people were doing it.
It's a a funny story actually. I was on the street skateboarding. I was 15 at the time, and this guy is in his car, and my friends and I are making fun of his car because we thought it was a really lame green car. I am sure in his mind, he thought it was cool. We thought he was gonna come out to fight us because we were making fun of it. We all stood up because back then, we used to get into fights a lot. Turns out he wanted to know if I was interested in modeling and gave me his card. He was an agent with LA models.
I went in and they signed me to try it for a year or two. I didn't like it and didn't do anything anyways. Whenever there were castings, I would skip all my castings. I didn't want to be known as some hot guy and I definitely didn't think this modeling would sit well with my skateboard buddies. I got made fun of so much because I went for it.
When I got back to NY a couple of months ago, I felt differently. I am more grown up now, so I decided to give it a try. I went to a bunch of meetings and agencies and DNA picked me up. I am having lots of fun with it.
What intrigues you about modeling now?
I like that it keeps you so busy. I am constantly being requested to see so many different people. Now it is a lot of fun...It is a different experience than in LA. People here are way cooler to work with. It is such a great experience and I am very thankful for this opportunity. My friends are proud of me now. They understand a lot more now. I think it brings a bit of stress to them because I am so busy. At the same time, they are so proud of me that I am focusing on a career instead of just hanging out all the time and not working. They are always checking out magazines to see if I am in there. They might go online to check out my agency portfolio and make fun of me but at the same time, they are saying things like good job dude. They call me "Model Boy" and I will tell them I don't think of myself like that. I might do that but when I am not working, I am just Miles.
Tell me some of the other non-modeling projects you are working on.
I am a musician so I have my band, Il Moro—we're four members (I am the lead singer of the band)—it means the moor in Italian. I was looking at da Vinci while I was doing research for school. The name of this guy popped up. His last name is Il Moro. He is the first guy that owned da Vinci's painting when no one else wanted or cared about it. I thought that was cool.
I have also my solo project called Jack Mac Johnny. I play acoustic, super raw, bluesy stuff. I haven't done anything in a couple of months. IL Moro is just focusing on recording our demo and probably going on tour this summer.
How would you describe the type of music Il Moro plays?
It's kind of weird...a mix of all the music we listened to growing up combined together. A lot of old-school punk influence and at the same time, a lot of '90s alternative music with a throw back to '70s Black Sabbath and stuff. A mixture of old and the new. My singing is kind of soulful and bluesy. Our band takes the time to perfect the performance and focus on writing songs that are meaningful with structure.
What separates your band from all the other bands out there?
There is so much junk out there, the worst quality for the big bucks. I think what makes us different from the other bands out there is that we are really into song integrity. We have very old-school beliefs in music. We also believe that you have to know the instruments that you are playing with inside and out. I think the bands I see now that are popular and playing, they don't know their instruments. It is all Pro Tools. It is mostly manufactured. Their dads knew a producer so of course, they are gonna get signed. Even worse is when they hire a stylist to style their looks...like, you don't have an identity? I grew up listening to punk rock, you make music for yourself and express your individuality through music, not following what's cool for the moment.
I have bands that I love (Fucked Up and Gallows) that are blowing up right now, they are getting really popular and I am happy for them. I have respect for them because I remember seeing them in LA when no one knew them. They were selling merchandise, promoting themselves...trying to get paid and trying to make money. Now they are happening and that's the way to do it. They have already evolved into something different, but it is still the same band and the same music...just a larger scale. They didn't sell out.
Having integrity in your music is so important. Being proud of your music, not just having someone else write your music or having them change your image to make it marketable. The musicians I like are not always the most attractive visually but they will outdo you playing the guitar any day of the week. It is quite sad when people judge you based on your image and not what you are about.
Tell us about your artwork.
I grew up with the graffiti scene in LA. I grew up with all the graffiti guys so that's how I learn. I learn techniques and what's considered acceptable. Graffiti is very hierarchical, especially in LA. If you are not bringing in what is accepted, you will get walked all over. It is a hard thing to learn. I don't even consider myself in that calibre. The guys I grew up with are amazing! When I came to NY, I just put down the markers and picked up the paint brush and canvas and I really wanted to start doing art shows. I saw a lot of my older friends doing them and getting really established now. It looks like it is a lot fun so when I came out here, I started doing shows. I was like having a show a week. Right now, I am a bit too busy to get another one cooking.
What's your favorite piece you have done?
It is untitled. It is for this gallery in Brooklyn called 3rd Ward Gallery. I did a live painting with my friend Greg. There are two teams, the other team is very finely trained artists and we created something very raw, just going with our gut instincts and attacking it. It probably the most rewarding painting experience I ever had. The reason is that I wasn't feeling frustrated. A lot of times for a show, I have to race against the clock to get a piece done in time, and the piece has to be good because it represents me and go with my portfolio of work to date. That's why I love the live painting because it is what it is. If you mess up, you mess up, you just go with it. It felt like how art should feel. It is to get your emotions out.
Tell us about your solo music.
It all started with some acoustic stuff I was doing with Siggy (My bandmate and best friend), then I was working on it on my own. It was meant to be made for my girlfriend at the time. Just me and my acoustic guitar, singing.
Is there a particular song that is more meaningful to you than other songs?
I wrote a song called "Any Man." It is about any guy in the world who can get a job, get the girl you want etc., and then in the middle, it switches into, I don't necessarily wanna be just any guy, I want to be me. At the time, I was in a very serious relationship and I was graduating high school and she was a very big deal to me.
Why do you think it is so important to be "cool" in youth culture? For example, so many models comes into town and the first thing they want to do is to go to any club or party and get trashed.
I honestly think it is so easy to be bored, so why not go to the clubs, so why not get trashed. Also, especially in NY, you gotta go to the clubs. Oh, I got into this club for free because of who I am...It is ridiculous!
I met a guy when I first came to the city, I was dragged to go to a club. I was bored and thought, why not. He had weed with him and thought it would be cool to show me and the girls at the club he got the goods. I could tell he never smoked weed in his life. Some guys go to clubs just to feel cool. It is just building a false persona and not what they are really about. I don't need to be in the "IN" crowd. Being cool is a state of mind, you don't have to prove anything.
There is a stereotype of the kind of people that work in the fashion industry. As a new model, what's your view of this?
Before I started, I heard all these unbelievable, terrifying stories about modeling but as I start meeting people and collaborating with the people I have met so far, it's been so wonderful. Everyone has been so generous, down to earth, cool, and supportive. So I am very grateful and that it hasn't been at all like the preconceived notion I had of modeling. All the casting directors I have met are always pleasant and show no attitude. In every industry there are gonna be some things that are sketchy and those unlucky few are going to experience it. I feel sympathetic to those who have to experience it. I haven't, so I am very thankful for that. I think you just have to have thick skin and learn to say "I am not comfortable with this"...no one can make you do anything you don't want to. My agents are always looking out for me...they have our backs and look out for us.
What's your favorite shoot you have done so far and why?
This shoot we just did, honestly. Even though it was quite cold and it was raining. It wasn't about just being handsome and being a model. It's more about what I am into and incorporating it into the vision of the shoot. I felt like I was part of the creative process. A lot of times, models are always being instructed what to do and we are there to pose and that's it.
What's your view on how people perceive the idea of a model?
People probably think of models as stupid or arrogant. Sometimes people treat you differently, especially in NY, when they find out that you are a model. There is such a big buzz about models, from reality shows, fashion shows, and magazines. To me, modeling is just a job, and when I am not working, I am just Miles...
What's your personal style like?
Very Californian. Vans 24/7. All basic all-American wear. I find clothes wherever. I like dressing up too...suits, Brit-rocker style. Outrageous fashion—I have worn dresses before, but in a rebellious kind of way. The key is that whatever you choose to wear, it needs to be in your own skin, not trying to be something you are not or cannot pull it off. That's the secret.
What would be the perfect editorial concept?
It might sound cliche, but me and my band hanging out at a coffee shop, chilling, at the studio, having a conversation. Basically, me in my everyday life and depicting a day in the life of Miles, the musician.