When I started Devizine it was an exploration, knowing next to nought about local performers and artists. Nowadays I consider venturing further afield, figuring I’ve successfully mapped our region of musical talent. But whenever I do, I find an area of unchartered territory, a Devizes resident lurking undetected in a dusty shed. Literally this month, it’s Hew Miller, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mix engineer living among us.
Upon hearing his uplifting and breezy pop-rock latest release, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) I figured, I’m going to hassle this guy for an article and expose any inhibitions he might have about his talent, as it’s common for an artist to shy away from shameless self-promotion. I warned him what we do here, and how scrupulous we are. He replied he’s a reader but “the reason you haven’t heard of me is that I’ve been pretty backwards in coming forwards!”
None of that matters, you see, backwards or forwards is all the same to me because I never know which way I’m going. It’s not so much about allowing me to spread wild gossip about him, rather I haven’t seen Hew listed for a gig locally either. Does he like playing live?
“I haven’t played live for quite a long time. I tend to focus on writing, producing and recording,” he explained.
Hew has three singles released on Bandcamp, the earliest, Upside Down World (We’re fine in here) was this April. It’s a stomping Peter-Gabriel-fashioned pop-rock observation on the tranquillity of lockdown. And in the middle, it’s not over yet, causally breezes with equal skill, a trumpet and quirky romantic reflexion. That one was released in July, but you’ve only got to listen to the competence in song writing and production to assume Hew’s must have been making music long before that.
“I played in bands when I was younger but then moved down to Devizes for work and never found the time or musicians to start up a band,” he tells. Hew’s been in the Vizes since 2002, moved from Nottingham.
“I’ve been a recording and mix engineer mainly as a hobby for many years; it was an underground thing but I’ve been wanting to get more exposure for my own music and to expand on the producing, mixing and mastering sides.” Hence his nom-de-plume, Hew, “because there are loads Matthew Millers and the name has already been taken on Spotify.”
Ah, story checked out. I found a Hungarian one on Bandcamp, among others, who by his profile pic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley. “Definitely not me!” he expressed, as did the rest of our chat retain a witty and light-hearted angle. Flicking through his Facebook page I paused on an image of an amazingly plush tree-house styled studio, and given he’s called his studio Dusty Shed Studios, I figured this was it. “No,” he owed up, “I wish…. I went there for a weekend! Mine is less grand…. it literally is a shed!”
“It was in the middle of a fields away from everyone. No-one to complain about the volume of the drums,” Hew enlightened, but I changed the subject, fearing it might get like a Monty Python sketch continuing discussing his shed! “Yes,” he agreed, “well when I was young, we lived in a cardboard box…”
On the subject of boxes, Let’s Do Something was recorded at Real World Studio in Box, and his own studio, said Dusty Shed. “I’m open for mixing/mastering and recording projects,” He informed. Hew works a DIY ethos, all instruments and production are his own. I like this, freedom of creativity an all; judging by these singles, he knows his way around those buttons and switches.
“You said you were in some bands back in Nottingham,” I asked, trying to unearth a possible heady past of thrashing metal or punk, “what kind of genres?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I guess it hasn’t changed that much; its indie pop/rock.” No juicy gossip there then, I thought I’d inquire about Hew’s influences. “They range from David Bowie to Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian to The Psychedelic Furs to The BareNakedLadies.” Hew seems at ease with where he is with his music, a quiet hidden gem, and as the tranquillity of lockdown subject of his first single, Upside Down World, might suggest, he’s happy mixing and producing in his dusty shed; it’s a guy thing!
Just as lockdown tore down borders of what we’ll feature here, Hew found it a rather fruitful period, “as everyone is getting into playing music,” and continued to say about some tunes he’s mixed for some American rappers and another international artist, “which I probably wouldn’t have done without lockdown. Hopefully we can now get back to some normality and live music can flourish with more musicians.”
True, for his easy-going amiable sound would be great for a Sunday session at the White Bear, or an afternoon in the Southgate’s garden, but even if we cannot prise Hew from his dusty shed, you should check out his discography. On Bandcamp, here. And his latest, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) is released on the streaming services on 25th September.