Robert Miles Biography

Translations of this material:

into Russian: Биография Роберта Майлса. 12% translated in draft.
Submitted for translation by Anonymous 02.09.2008




The story of Robert Miles, born Roberto Concina, is that of three journeys, geographical, spiritual

and above all musical. Though he’s circled the globe many times and picked up more than a few

glittering prizes along the way, it’s music and Robert’s sheer love of it that has propelled him from

a small town in the Swiss mountains to success in the world’s music capitals and beyond.

Moreover this same love of music burns as fiercely in him still as he prepares to undertake the

next phase of his remarkable voyage.


Robert Miles’ journey began in 1969 in the Swiss town of Fleurier from where the family moved to

Italy when he was still a young boy. It was here in the small rural town of Fagagna, some 100km

from Venice that the young Robert first discovered his love for music via the family piano and a

pair of turntables.

Abandoning early thoughts of a career in electronic engineering to dedicate himself to music he

left school at 17 and turned his technical knowledge to setting up a pirate radio station, making

his debut as a live DJ around the same time. This combination of self-sufficiency and drive is a

recurring motif in Robert’s career and one which was later to prove all too necessary in his

dealings with and eventual escape from the corporate music machine.

Over the next few years he built his reputation as a live and radio DJ and increasingly taken over

by an enthusiasm for experimental and electronic music treated his home region to the sounds of

some of his formative influences; Kraftwerk, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, Future Sound

of London, even Stockhausen, several of whom he’s collaborated with over the years and with

whom one can see him having an ever increasing kinship.


The Robert Miles story for the world at large begins of course with the composition of ‘Children’ in

1994, written in a 4m x 4m bunker studio he had personally soundproofed and assembled in a

converted garage not far from the family home. ‘Children’ was Robert’s immediate and typically

honest emotional response to pictures of the child victims of war with which his father had just

returned from a humanitarian mission to the ex-Yugoslavia. So moved was Robert by the plight of

these innocents, caught up in so much devastation and atrocity, that he felt compelled to begin

work on the track the very next morning as he returned from playing his DJ set in the early hours.

‘Children’ was to be a life-changing track for Robert in many ways, most of all perhaps in the

confidence and reassurance that after much hard work and a number of initial stumbles he had

for the first time ‘found’ himself as a composer, As he was to discover the first time he aired the

track in public at his next DJ set;

“I was anxious to see how people would take to this piece. The following Sunday morning I

opened my DJ set with ‘Children’, feeling both scared and excited... the DJ just before me had

ended with a very heavy piece. To break the existing mood with a melodic tune and a long intro

could have simply cleared the floor. The people in front of me stopped in their tracks, their eyes

fixed to the console almost in annoyance. I felt my blood run cold and I remember lowering my

eyes in fear. The record reached its soaring climax. From the floor came a thunderous noise... I

lifted my gaze and saw a sea of hands reaching up high and a smile stamped on every face. A

girl approached me in tears. “What music is this?" she asked me. I don't think I shall ever forget

that moment, when I realized that my feelings had been conveyed through my music. My dream

turned into reality.”

From there the track built steadily from the underground, championed by DJs and club audiences

one by one around the world. Typically when the track first arrived as a single in the UK, Radio 1

refused to play it as it was an instrumental and moreover a ‘dance’ instrumental at that, rather anironic turn of events for a ex-radio DJ. Only in 1996 when pressure from the UK club scene

became overwhelming did ‘Children’ finally make the playlist and explode into the national

consciousness and beyond, becoming a global phenomenon in the truest sense. ‘Children’

reached #1 in 18 countries, selling a staggering 5 million copies worldwide. In defining a genre it

opened the door for much of the ‘chill-out’ and down-tempo music that followed in its wake.

Not surprisingly Robert had by this time been hungrily snapped up by a major label, BMG’s

‘Deconstruction’ and temporarily escaping the media frenzy that had engulfed him returned to his

bunker in Italy to finish the rest of what would become his first album ‘Dreamland’. On release

‘Dreamland’, which also includes the singles ‘One and One’ and ‘Fable’, was perhaps even more

successful than ‘Children’ itself, racking up a mighty 16 platinum and 12 gold discs in 21 countries

around the world. Industry plaudits naturally flowed and the following year (1997) Robert picked

up a host of trophies including a Brit award (Best International Newcomer), two BMIs and a World

Music award (Best Selling Male Newcomer of the Year). Wherever the peaks of the music world

were to be found that year, Robert Miles was assuredly at the summit.


With corporate champagne flowing and balance sheets healthily in the black everything seemed

in place for an equally glittering second album to follow, aside that is for the one factor seemingly

always excluded from such calculations, the wishes of the artist himself!

An essentially private man with a seldom-found integrity and devotion to his music, Robert Miles

has poured his passion and energies, his very heart and soul into becoming many things over the

years, composer, producer, musician, DJ, but one thing he has never had any interest in, indeed

instinctively quite the reverse, is becoming a commodity and it was to the threshold of this

precipice that he felt himself being pushed by label, management and media alike during the

preparations for his second album ‘23 AM’.

Still inexperienced in the ways of the music business and feeling himself increasingly alienated

from the people around him, Miles not only withdrew completely from the interview circuit (during

the previous year he had been doing up to 15-20 interviews a day) but also asked that instead of

new photographs on the album cover and elsewhere he be represented by a black silhouette of

himself to represent what he felt was his place in the pop-star system, “to suggest the

insignificance of ‘image’ – music above everything else”. One can only imagine the mixture of

incredulity and horror with which this news was greeted in boardrooms around the world.

Now resident in London and distanced as far as he was able from the trappings of the famegame,

Miles meanwhile set to work on the music for ‘23AM’;

“I wanted this to be a conceptual album; an album which would reflect the experiences and

understanding gathered on my travels. 11 pieces describing the life cycle of a normal human

being, such as I wanted to be - starting from birth, through the vicissitudes of everyday life, to

maturity and finally to death. The scores were the translation into music of my state of mind at

that moment: the desire to hold on to a normal life, to run away from those who wanted to

overburden me; the need to be free again to give vent to my feelings.”

Eventually released in November 1998, ‘23AM’ (containing the resolutely titled single ‘Freedom’)

was enthusiastically greeted by many of Robert’s early fans and indeed is still cited by many as

the preferred album of the first two. For a variety of reasons however it failed to repeat the

sensational commercial performance of its predecessor. The artist’s refusal to take part in any TV

or radio interviews undoubtedly contributed and a spectacularly mishandled record company

marketing campaign did the rest. The increasingly strained relationship between Miles and his

record company and then-management had now been pushed beyond breaking point, with the

inevitable acrimonious consequences.

Locked in a contract in which both record company and management had envisaged Robert

Miles functioning as a kind of musical slot-machine, producing lucrative pay-outs of ‘Dreamland’clones for the foreseeable future regardless of his own artistic needs, and seemingly unwilling to

perform on any other terms, Robert was for a while at a loss to do next. The major label career

which less than three years earlier had seemed so promising was not only in tatters but as things

stood seemed set to stop him releasing any of the music he actually wanted to write for the

foreseeable future, thus consigning not only his career but his own musical voice to oblivion. Was

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