Being Human: Myles (M.Y.L.O.) Brown Releases Visual Album “Journey” Chronicling Personal Journey And Loss

by | Jan 11, 2023 | COMMUNITY, FILM / TV, HIP HOP / RAP / TRAP, MUSIC

A visual album is a collection of songs with corresponding music videos that enhance the narrative of each track. Myles (M.Y.L.O.) Brown’s album Journey is a visual album that explores the human experience and tells the story of his personal journey to overcome challenges after losing his friend John Lodge Fergusson. The album, set in various locations in Richmond, Virginia, includes 7 original songs with music videos and 5 conversations with Brown discussing his project.

We got a chance to  ask him about the album — and then we went all in everything else. Enjoy!

Thanks for joining me tonight and discussing your work. I watched your film Journey and also saw some of your recent videos shared on social media. Before we begin, is there anything in particular you wanted to talk about regarding your work or do you want to see where the conversation leads?

I’d prefer to see where the conversation leads.

We’ll come to the name you work under, MYLO. I noticed at the end of Journey, it was spelled out differently than your identifying name “My Youth Lives On.” I’m curious where that comes from and what it means to you.

“My Youth Lives On” is a phrase I developed after the fact. MYLO is just one of my nicknames because my name is Myles. But as I started working with narratives that involved psychology and moving into corporate spaces and jobs, I wanted to make sure I’m still having fun with my production. So, “my youth lives on” is a motto for me to still enjoy my work, no matter what field I’m in.

You mentioned you’re moving into corporate work and we talked about some of the reels of events or venues and spaces, and telling other people’s stories. Were you interested in storytelling before, like in your youth?

Most of my interests in storytelling come from my background in community psychology in undergrad. I’m interested in how to connect a community for its overall well-being. I began doing that through video. My major was psychology, my minor was film. At first, I thought there was no way to combine the two, but it turns out what connects them is storytelling, which I use to connect people.

And regarding your degrees, where did you attend those programs? When did you graduate?

I attended UNC Charlotte and played soccer there. I graduated in 2019.

Had you been interested in film during those studies?

I had a film minor, but ironically is I never even took a production class. Most of my influences came from when I played soccer. I started making highlight tapes and day-in-the-life recaps when I was traveling with my team. And I think that’s where I developed the lifestyle aspect in my work, where I just captured things that were happening and documented them. I think that translates into what I do now. But now I try to have more intricate and playful shot selection that keeps the viewer guessing while also making sense thematically with the storyline I choose. That typically involves a lot of drone footage and shot variance to keep my videos playful and fun. Music also plays a big role in my videos.

With drone videography and grounded videography, do you approach your camera work any differently when flying or when you’re on the ground, or is there anything that connects them?

They’re pretty different approaches. I don’t like to go into too much detail about how I do it, as it’s a part of my process that I don’t like to share.

I understand.

But it’s definitely a different approach. People who film on the ground don’t automatically have extremely cinematic drone footage and vice versa. But I just try to make personal edits that people can relate to. That involves talking to a lot of people at events and making connections to make sure I get a feel for what the event is like, who’s there. And once I start talking to different people, I can understand them and the pace of the edit.

Gotcha, I appreciate processes that can be shared and those that are personal.

I don’t want to be like, “oh, my secret is…”

My curiosity was as someone who is grounded, how and where I feel a shot is, particularly if it’s documentary style, not like I storyboarded it and I’m going to get the shot. I have intuition and a feeling that I work with, where I’m looking at the camera and then scanning the room, like, who’s going to do something next? But I was curious if there were those different approaches for when you’re controlling remotely and then on the ground, and it definitely sounds like you have different ways, more than two, I would imagine, but different approaches to those different types of shots.

Yeah, definitely ground level is more of that personal piece. Who can I speak to? Who can I talk to? And also emotion. That’s what gives the edit life.

When I did the deep dive, looking at those event documents, those highlight reels, there is genuine joy in a lot of them. That is something that, like you’re saying, comes from the meeting of the person, connecting with them, and then getting the shot.

Right.

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You mentioned music and sound. That was one of the things that I didn’t immediately process was going to be a big part of Journey. You talked about the impetus for the film and the processing of what you were going through to spark doing the story. And I think in the trailer there’s a single standout music piece in there. But the visual album, the visual structure that sits in between music video and a film, as well as some of the other aspects that make it a unique work. Was there a sort of timeline to the songs coming before the production or did you start generating some of the ideas for the production and then write the songs?

So I actually wrote the songs first. We had a very interesting approach to the project. I wrote five of the songs, however you want to categorize it, in one night. It was this kind of crazy inspiration that I had. I was having a conversation with my sister the night before because I was feeling depressed and bottled up, and I didn’t have an outlet. And she gave me permission to grieve and just have a conversation. That first time I cried and let out all my emotions was when I was in the mental space to create something. That’s when I wrote those five songs. I called my friend Miles Peay, who I do a lot of my video work with now, and I explained to him that I wrote a lot of songs but didn’t know what to do. He said, “Why don’t you make a film?” And I replied, “You’re right. I will.” I started working with the other main character in the film, Mike Avey. We went to different parks in the city of Richmond, and I had prompt questions. So, in the conversation where I asked, “How would you define the term journey?” Those were actual responses. Once we realized what the product was evolving into, and that it would be a serious project, and that there were a lot of people who needed to hear this message, it turned into a film.

We took sound bites from the conversations and then re-recorded them with a professional microphone. So if we had a 15-minute conversation, we would take a minute from that 15 minutes and put it together. There are some conversations we didn’t use entirely, but it formed organically as we were finishing up some of the songs and tightening up the narrative. A song like “Boulevard,” which is the second song in the project, was added later because we needed one more fun, upbeat song before we start going into more serious topics. “Tolls” was one of the songs where I was rapping about how I’m trying to navigate through the whole journey, but I keep finding myself in the back, out of control. We added that song later to tie up that chapter in the film. And then “Journey,” the last song, I wrote that to summarize what the whole project meant once I figured out what I wanted my message to be.

And then after we had those rough cuts, we started filming the music videos and I was mixing and mastering with my engineer who’s based out in Brooklyn. So I had to communicate all of my messages virtually. And the transitions within songs like “Cruise,” how it builds up to that cinematic piece at the end, I had to communicate that all over a phone call. It was a lot of work, but it all formed organically from me writing the songs, then having true conversations in the spaces that we filmed in and then tying up the narrative with the last few songs that we added. And then “Garden Glow” happens at Maymont every fall and the scenes we filmed there tie the entire narrative together leading into the final song.

After we had talked and had seen things you had shared before, it’s not until you’re watching it that you realize the true nature of the dialogue. It’s like telepathy. The dialogue in this piece isn’t just dialogue. It became the AHA moment as the film progressed and I put the story together, connecting it to what you had shared about your friend John. I don’t remember when it happened because there’s still an arc of the film to go, but I remember thinking how interesting it was, and the process of the improv workshop connection with your collaborator Mike made it even more special to hear. That was one of the things I was very curious about, where that process was discovered. The majority of the piece is your story, and you’re on camera. Who was working with you on the crew?

Shout out to Daniel Bagbey with OVRBORD Media Group. I’m not sure how often he films music videos nowadays, but he’s an amazing cinematographer and taught me the majority of what I know. I came to him with the idea of Journey back in, I would say within the first month that I started creating it. At first, he thought I was crazy because I introduced the idea of telepathic communication. But from the jump, I knew I wanted to have conversations filmed in slow motion where we’re not speaking but they’re narrations and they tell our thoughts. He was like, ‘Whatever, I guess’ (chuckles).

Did you have those on the days that you were filming as sort of playback so you could work the timing out?

Some of them we didn’t, but there are a few that we went back and re-recorded so that I could get them with better equipment. I rented my friend Daniel Bagbey’s camera to go reshoot the Pump House conversation. And I updated my drone as well. So we reshot that one and we played the edited audio for the conversation and then acted it out, you know, for each person through what our lines were. So I think in total, we had five cinematographers, but, like, in varying degrees, like, the people who filmed it were really just me, Daniel Bagbey, and Mike Avey. The main crew was just three people for that entire film, which is wild. And if you watch the project, once I start entering that Introspection stage, it goes Avoidance, Introspection, Arrival. When I hit Introspection, all the music videos are like solo music videos, which you never really see, but because it’s tied to a storyline, it works.

I had asked earlier about sort of film influences and you were talking about how a lot of your cutting teeth came from cutting the soccer reels. And I guess it’s a two-part question. One was, how much were you grown up on ESPN footage of sports or more YouTube versions of Sports?

YouTube 100%. I would say YouTube videos. I like watching simplistic kinds of music videos. Like KOTA the Friend who’s an artist out of New York. And he does like, one takes, where the camera just slowly zooms in on him. But he has a nice backdrop. I really enjoy watching Cole Bennett, who works with Lyrical Lemonade, which is a group out of Chicago. Have you heard of Lyrical Lemonade by any chance?

I haven’t heard of them. I’m trying to think of Cole Bennett. Sounds familiar.

Yeah, he’s my age. He started this company where he does music videos and they’re all, like, run and gun music videos. And slowly, as he started building a reputation, his name blew up. And now he has all these big sets. We have very different styles of editing. But I just love his approach. I don’t care if we don’t have a budget, we’re gonna go film. He can make something out of nothing. And he does a lot of iPhone music videos, even though he has access to all the Arri and Alexa cameras and RED’s, whatever you need. He’ll still just pull out his phone and film a high-quality music video. So I love that range. Even in some of my corporate work, I insert cell phone footage. If it’s about, like, lifestyle or Richmond, visiting the city or attracting people to the city of Richmond, you want to feel involved. You want to feel like you’re actually there or a person experiencing it. So cell phone shots always look nice.

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Yeah, there’s something about the weight of the camera that impacts the operator. If it’s a giant Panavision camera from the 50s, it’s huge, it takes a team to move, versus a handheld 16 millimeter Bolex. Then to handhold the cell phone, there’s a weight there that does make the viewer feel there. And this gets back to the psychology of camera lens and camera choice puts them into the frame of ‘is this a POV on the town getting my own shot?’ Or is it, the big production or the drone or the helicopter or whatever, is the machine behind it? I think having that variance is really cool because it allows you to insert yourself in the narrative a bit more and you can communicate that message.

Some of my footage, I want to look as cinematic and aesthetically pleasing as possible. Other shots, like the “Downtown” music video, I wanted it to be mostly cell-phone footage because that represents being downtown on a night out. Everyone always records on their phones. I felt like mixing those styles together between drone footage, cinematic footage with nice cameras and cell-phone footage gives you all of the layers that you need to digest that song properly in that stage.

With music videos to visual albums, was there any other work that was inspirational?

I watched Runaway by Kanye West. “Runaway” is one of my favorite songs of all time. But the visual album itself is just very beautiful and there’s a lot of interpretation for that project. My visual album is more of like, here’s a storyline where the viewer can insert themselves into the narrative. I didn’t want to leave it so open-ended like Kanye’s was, but I tried to limit the amount of visual albums I watched because I didn’t want it to look like anyone else’s.

I would say dividing Journey into stages came from The Man on the Moon by Kid Cudi. He kind of divided his album into stages. And I remember that that was my best friend’s favorite album. So I thought it only made sense to listen through the album to see what my friend might have gotten out of it when he heard it. So I was like, dividing it into sections would make sense by doing a spoken word to set up the next part of the act. The dance scene in “Cruise” is similar to the ballet scene that you see in “Runaway.” That part in “Runaway”, whenever I hear it, brings me to tears. Even if I threw it on right now, I’d probably tear up if I heard that song. So that holds a very special place in my heart.

I like to combine a bunch of different art forms together. Dance and film, they work hand in hand. So I wanted to do a little tribute to what “Runaway” means to me, just like with that scene of me running down the street in “Cruise”, all of those things leading together. But it’s cool because, again, there are so many layers to Journey. That dance scene took place on the north side of town. And the person who was dancing is named Aliyah Battle. I played “Cruise”, the instrumental, and I was like, this is your freeform expression. No choreography. Dance how you feel. And she was dancing in front of a mural by Jason Ford. The mural is of Braxton, who was a rapper locally, and she passed away. But that was Aliyah’s friend in high school. So we shared that loss and I was like, ‘This is our chance to express ourselves with art. I will float around and film you, dance however you think is appropriate as a tribute to your friend.’ And that was like a really nice connection where our storylines and lives overlapped and intersected and and we were able to, I think, both grow from that experience. We had never met each other before that day, so that was a powerful moment.

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Was the set chosen by the dancer or was that, like, cosmic coincidence?

It was chosen. I chose that backdrop because I wanted to pay my respects to another creative who was in Richmond, who has gone just way too soon. I’d seen the event in the paper, and I wasn’t able to make it. And they had dancers there. It was a tribute during the day. And I was really upset that I couldn’t make it. And one of my friends was like, I know a dancer who was best friends with Braxton. And that’s when I called Aliyah on the phone. I told her my story, she told me hers, and we let out how we were feeling through art.

I grew up in the 80s, so music videos and the whole MTV revolution it’s definitely like a secondary immersive education. All the different music videos to whatever it was that allowed for the bigger form ones to come up in the 21st century. Like Beyonce’s  “Lemonade” and Kendrick’s work and “Runaway.” So there’s something beautiful about that. If MTV is not going to play music videos, artists can still give us the visual album. We need the accompanying work. I want them to be able to express in the visual form too, because I have my own life that gets connected to the memories I make with music but it’s nice when I’m having a memory with the music somewhere, adding in what they’d like the visual to be. I was thrilled to see that was a big part of this piece.

Right. It’s hard sometimes to explain that it’s a visual album and that I wrote the music, I perform the music, things like that, because a lot of people don’t know exactly what a visual album is because there aren’t many of them.

And you don’t really see an independent person making a visual album. That just doesn’t happen because they’re so expensive.  And time consuming, and you have to have a concept. It’s not like you can just throw out songs with all these different topics. It’s one cohesive narrative. It’s just like writing a musical. But yeah, this one just happens to be all in Richmond, which is cool. 

When you watched it, did anything strike you about the visuals? Because I’ve had some people tell me that they’ve never seen Richmond look like that before, or it gives them new purpose or a newfound appreciation for a space that they never really explored before, or maybe they have explored, but never in the context of a narrative.

You have so many beautiful locations that are so important to the riverfront, whether it’s Maymont or the Pump House, and then places that again, either from the angle or your knowing of a place or side of the river, that there were plenty of places that it’s like, “I’ve never seen that, where’s that awesome location?” And because of the availability of the God’s eye view, the bird’s eye view of the drone, there were spaces that I had never seen from that vantage, which were just stunning. And that, “Richmond is such a beautiful place, and the James River is such a magical carving of the space, and it’s so historic.” There’s something about Richmond that is temperate, It’s not too cold, it’s not too hot. So you got green, you have foliage and life that you don’t get in the arid spaces. The way you present it and show it, that is one of the things that, having seen your reels before we met whether it was on RVA or one of the other media outlets, then I met you, and you were doing that work that night at Libby Hill.

That was one of the key elements that I was anticipating going in was that, the beauty of the space, your eye, the way that you frame or choose to edit from a gathering, there was something about that aspect that I knew was going to be there. There were a lot of different forms in one, whether it’s the promotional video, the corporate, the music video, the cinematic, and what you just shared about your psychology training.

When I was watching Journey, and now I am working through elder parent realities, when my mother was actively in the hospital from the most recent medical occurrence, my family talked a lot about the Kubler-Ross stages of grief.

Yeah, I studied that in college. I had a Death and Bereavement class and this stuff’s heavy. I’m currently going through that process right now with my mom, who’s very sick with cancer. And it’s not easy, obviously, but that’s one of the reasons why I made Journey, is to start difficult conversations but create a sense of community around an art piece that showcases our city so that other people feel comfortable sharing their own stories to make a more empathetic community where people can receive this project. They’ve seen a work of art that can move people. Everybody takes something different from Journey and they can share their own experiences. And without even knowing it, they’re opening up about their lives. I’ve had so many people tell me, like, “I lost a family member recently”, or “I lost a family member ten years ago. I haven’t really processed it, but this film has been a stepping stone in helping me reach that sense of closure.” And that was why I made Journey.

When the different chapters came up, whether it was the song or the moment captured in the song or the stage of the film, there was a very clear, overarching emotional presentation. How much of that was your writing process coming from the work you’ve done with psychology to making it up organically as it goes?

What is wild is the first pass of the film that I watched. I absolutely hated it because it moved way too quickly. I was freaking out because we had already picked a date for the premiere and everything at The Byrd. It was November, probably like the 16th, something like that, of 2021. And I was like, “this sucks. I hate this. What is wrong with this film? It’s moving so fast. I don’t know what’s going on.” And I sat down with Daniel Bagbey again. He was helping me do the final edits for Journey on his computer, he was like, “if it’s moving too fast, what is going on here?” And I was telling him what was going on. He was like, “here’s what you need to do. You need to segment the film just like how you told me. But you have to figure out a way to segment it.” And so I was thinking about it, and I went home that night and I was like, okay, I am going to separate things into stages, but I’ll just do spoken word to set up what the next stage is going to be. That way it gives the film time to breathe. So you collect your bearings from the intro. Now you’re getting ready to hit Avoidance. Now you’re prepared to go into Avoidance. Then that stage ends. Introspection starts. You have the setup for Introspection, which is like a minute and a half, two minutes. Now you move into Arrival. Then you go into the final song, Journey. Those were the breaks that we needed. I wrote all of those spoken word sections at one time in a span of like an hour and a half. I was like, “these are the three sections. This is what they’re going to be called.” And then in one day, me and my friend Mike Avey filmed that, just the two of us with just one camera. And we documented it, too.

I have all the behind the scenes of Journey. After this article is released, and after I release some more projects in the Richmond art space, and after people really start listening and there’s more public screenings, I’m going to release the BTS. And I was using my Sony a7RII , which isn’t even the craziest camera of all time, but I use that to record all the conversations. We had to split it up into the stages. And I went through and I fleshed out all of them pretty much in that one day because we’re on a time crunch, in the span of 12 hours.

The tunnels in Forest Hill Park is where we filmed the last scene. The spoken word that I did to start the Introspection stage. It was a spooky night because those tunnels at night are really dark, super dark. And there were leaves rustling  in the background. My friend was like, “what’s that?” I’m like, “Dude, relax. It’s  leaves.” In my mind I was kind of scared. I was like, “let’s get this, you know, rolling so we can get out of here.” But it was cold. I had a short sleeve shirt on, it was the end of November. [laughs]

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Yeah,  it’ll get you. Particularly if you are wearing what you were doing 12 hours ago and not what you’re doing 12 hours later. There’s a process of normalcy for getting a rough cut. You do all that work to get to the rough cut, and you’re like,” Cool! I’m not done at all, actually.” And then that’s when you make the movie. I love editing. I like editing for other people because that work is once you get the rough cut, it’s to the script, you use the footage. But then when you go and you restructure things or you go back to footage you didn’t use, or you do reshoots because you now know what you’re missing. 

Multiple scenes, man. Like the Forest Hill Park convo. We went back and we reshot that. That’s one of the behind the scenes videos that’s up on my website right now. “Exploring Richmond”, I think, is the title of it, where we walk through Carytown and Byrd Park and then Forest Hill Park. But we had to go back and refilm those conversations because we had to get the voiceover right. I still have the first draft of the first convo we did at Forest Hill Park all the way back from March, since, like the day that we filmed it. And it’s nothing like the format of what we did for the rest of them. But it’s the groundwork, the foundation of everything else. It takes that rough cut to be like, wow, you still got some stuff to do here.

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Have you recorded music prior to this project? Do you have a history with that?

I started making music in 2014, but I won’t share that music as it wasn’t a strong foundation. By 2019, it was better and I had two EPs that I released before Journey in 2019 and 2020. I had some music on SoundCloud that I still appreciate. My style has definitely evolved a lot since then. I made a challenge for myself starting in 2019 and 2020, called “One Take Wednesdays,” where every Wednesday, I would write a new verse and shoot a new visual to it, between 45 seconds and a minute and post it on Instagram. I did that for ten weeks straight. It helped me to get comfortable with working under pressure, and I would often procrastinate until Tuesday, then write and shoot a visual before Wednesday. This set me up for creating this visual album.

I also did little tests for myself to see how I could work under pressure and write within themes. I intentionally chose different rap beats from different decades such as ’80s, ’90s, early 2000s, and then a trap beat from the 2010s. I also mix it up with different styles, such as a Brockhampton style or old school Boom Bap or Run DMC. I did this to challenge myself and see if I could navigate different genres and spaces. I feel like my music moving forward is more in the style of “Cruise.” That song is very grand. I like songs like “Interstate” and “Journey” because they’re very catchy and I can say a lot because I’m rapping. “Kenny G” is more experimental. But “Cruise” is my favorite. Even the verse I wrote, “Slow it down, tell me why we’re always moving fast, keep my guard up, but they still be seeing through the glass. Used to ride in buses, always out here clowning in the back. Keep my demons to myself, why you put me on blast? I keep my secrets guarded like a cast.” All the winners come in first, I’m going to make the moment last. Going to take the gold, fold it up and put it in the trash. Cruising in my whip, 20 on the dash.”

That verse, when I wrote it, I didn’t realize how much it spelled out my life at the time and my life now. But it’s all about stepping away from the chaos of life and living in the moment, experiencing what you’re experiencing. Even now with my mom, it’s like I’m hugging her with a completely different perspective. I’m memorizing what hugs feel like now, looking at things completely differently. Whenever I hang out with my friends, I’m realizing life is so unpredictable and I am living in the moment. I’m enjoying all my company and making time for my friends because you never know what happens in life. So that’s what “Cruise” is all about. I don’t care about a gold medal to reach the finish. I’m going to make the moment last, because I want to be in these spots. I want to experience things. I want to take time to live life. Even if I miss an opportunity where I could have made an extra $10,000, if it’s at the expense of my mental health, I’m not going to do it. It’s finding that balance and that creative freedom. And I think that song, that’s why it speaks to so many people, they listen to it over and over and they start to hear the words. What’s your favorite one?

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Well, it’s interesting, in hearing you talk about the film, it’s like the back of your hand, every note. And for me, I am still getting to know it and the different moments you have described throughout our conversation, such as “Interstate,” “Avoidance,” “Boulevard,” “Downtown,” “Introspection,” “Tolls,” “Kenny G,” “Cruise,” “Arrival,” “Hollywood,” “Journey” make it clear that the album is very thoughtfully put together. And the lyrics you cited about slowing down time, particularly in the context of “Cruise,” were definitely impactful. To me, that song stood out as a highlight of the album.

Right. “Hollywood” yeah, I was just about to talk about that one

Part of the dual notion that word has for us in Richmond and as filmmakers is twofold so different than when you say “Hollywood” to someone that’s not in Richmond. Because they think of Hollywood as the Dream Factory, and we think of it also as this historic cemetery. What did you want to speak to with that track and that moment? 

“Hollywood” was the hardest song I had to write. Originally, it only had two verses, but I waited to write the last verse until the day of my friend’s funeral. I felt I couldn’t do the song justice until I got a sense of closure by being at the Hollywood Cemetery that day.

I had paid my respects before the funeral, but it’s different when you’re actually at the funeral. After feeling all the emotions and crying at the funeral, I was finally ready to write about my feelings and achieve closure. The line “ironically, opening up has given me closure” was the first line I wrote that day. I wrote the verse backwards to emphasize that opening up and feeling heard is how you reach closure.

The song is called “Hollywood,” but I don’t actually say the word in the song. Most people don’t understand the significance of the title until they see the accompanying film. In the first verse, the setting is not in the Hollywood Cemetery, but in the second verse the listener can physically see me walking into it. I wanted to ease the listener into the setting before hitting them with the final verse at my friend’s grave. The final verse includes the lines “This pain cuts deep and I know I needed a shoulder” and “I’m working on my vulnerabilities when I’m sober” referencing the avoidance stage in my life. The journey is more than just driving and your legacy is the motivation. I know my friend’s life is done, but our friendship is never over. By the end of the film and the “Garden Glow” conversations, the meaning of the song becomes clearer.

It’s part of the vulnerability as an artist to share and the compulsion to share, then the roadblocks we put in our way. I don’t know where I am in my career, I’ve been doing it for a while and I’ve wanted to do it for my whole life. Starting in childhood early art programs, constantly making all the different types of art leading up to the pandemic and the pandemic itself, I went into walls that I had broken down, they were being rebuilt.  Stepping away from sharing, now that we’ve had time with social media.

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You were talking about the accessibility of these places. When I was working with Alex and Dustin last summer, I took a lot of trips to Belle Isle, the location that they were going to do an installation, another monument reclaimed, more context to the bigger history of Richmond. Whenever I go to Belle Isle, there’s always so many different Richmonders or surrounding Richmonders from all manner of pockets of Richmond, all there for that special place, all ages, all different things going on. And it’s a place that is really special. And I love that one of the missions of the work is to get people to go to these places. 

It’s how I live. I’ve always tried to be upfront about who I am. I consider myself to be a very empathetic person. I care about the well-being of other people, which is why I chose my major. That works its way into my stories and that’s why people like them. I want people to explore, because when I started exploring my city, I was able to explore myself. That’s reflected in Journey. Every chapter, every place I went to, is a piece of me. So it’s very personal because what I might associate with feeling empty or longing for support and kind of sadness, someone else might have the fondest memory, like the tunnels in Forest Hill Park or the rocks at Belle Isle. That was an empty feeling for me, but to someone else, these spaces could represent a summer day where it’s packed. I’ve had some of my best conversations walking through those spaces, because you’re always finding people who want to get out of their homes, who want to explore, who want to immerse themselves outdoors. And those people, I feel like, have a certain personality trait already.

Those have been my best conversations, just walking around the city of Richmond. That’s why I love going to events and that’s why I can capture them so well, because I talk to people all the time. I love hearing people’s stories and why they’re in a place or moved to Richmond, who they are, and I sort of interview them. I talk to some of the people I’ve met to this day. Recently, I had some people come to see me at the Liberated Flow Gala at Main Street Station who said that I had talked to them at the Street Art Festival. And they saw the recap video and wanted to come meet me because they’ve been following my work since then, and they wanted to see what Journey was about. That’s so crazy, because first of all, I’ve never really had anyone want to come up to me and talk to me about my work before. But it was a conversation that made a difference because they had just moved to the city and I didn’t know that.

To your point about social media, I used to be so worried about numbers, like “this person has more followers.” I don’t care about that now. Last year, I was like, “who am I? What do I feel comfortable posting? What am I doing right now in my life?” I had three accounts. A personal one since high school, a music account, and a film account. I decided that if I wanted people to know who I am, I would post on @mylo.vid. So, I deleted the other two. I told people on my other accounts, “I’m shutting down these accounts. If you want to follow me in my journey and what I’m doing next, please follow my video account.”

Recently, I’ve been trying to step back from social media. Obviously, you see me post all the time because I’m always out here filming and working. But as far as my time outside of posting, I don’t want to see who’s out here filming this or that. I don’t care about comparisons. I’m so comfortable with my style and what I do and what I bring to the table. I’ve seen a lot of people start to try to emulate my style in Richmond now. Like I see it everywhere now. Like you can’t not see it. It’s very apparent now, I’m not trying to worry or stress myself about someone who attempts my style because they’re never who I am. I’m confident in my work but I’m not worried about likes. Likes don’t mean anything. It’s “who am I connecting with? What story am I telling? Who am I reaching? Who have I grabbed coffee with over the last few months? What will those relationships mean? How do I involve myself in the art community? How do I actually give back?” The more that I try to give back, the more I progress. I’m just out here working and trying to help other people out who are doing things in the community. And that always ends up helping me out, too. So I truly believe that you get what you give.

And I’m trying to give all of my talents to try to help Richmond. I’m always talking to people. I’m always grabbing coffee. I hate coffee, but I always grab coffee with people.

 I love coffee, and I love grabbing coffee with people. 

I’ll get the latte, the milkiest type of coffee you can ever get. I love conversations. I love talking to people. I love this conversation right here that we’re having. I care so much more about connections and conversations than likes, and I think that’s why I’ve been able to progress so fast.

There’s something about not talking too much about what’s to come if you don’t want to spoil anything. But is there anything that you’re excited about that’s happening now, are there projects kind of coming up behind the work that you’re sharing now? 

I’m working on something. But again, I don’t really want to go too much into it because I’m still developing the concept. It’s music and film related.

From my side, being in your audience, I don’t really care what it is specifically at this point, just that there is something happening that can be looked forward to. 

It’s cool because my first piece Journey, people are just learning more about it. It was in the Richmond International Film Festival. But it was a late entry, so it was like an exception that was let in because the person who ran the festival loved the film. It was at Afrikana Film Festival. We had two screenings of The Byrd that both were well attended. If you live in Richmond, this story is going to impact you. There’s no way it can’t, you go past these places every day. Everyone has experienced some sort of hardship or loss. This story transcends whether you are black, white, asian, latino, it doesn’t matter. It’s a human story. That’s the main message I want to get across.

Where can people find some of the work? 

You can access the music and an interview on mylojourney.com where I talk about the reason why I made the film. It shows the trailer. It has six behind the scenes videos. It shows all the different locations that we filmed. That’s the main project website so that’s how you learn the most about it.

I appreciate getting to have some time with you tonight on this journey as well.

I’m excited to put together the BTS “Boulevard” music video, the one where it’s like super high energy and we’re all up and down Boulevard and stuff. That is probably the coolest behind the scenes video, the amount of fun and kind of laughter that’s in that one, I think that shows the nature of it. And then there’s a song that’s like behind the scenes for something like “Cruise”, where it’s a little bit more serious. We even have behind the scenes that I’ll make of the sound design process at Rainmaker studio. So all of those different pieces, I’ll be putting those together. I’ve started them.

I just haven’t had time to sit down and really finish them up. But those are going to be cool pieces where people see, like, man, they spent ten minutes just trying to find the right echo to fit with the tunnel scene. Obviously, I don’t show all ten minutes. Of that, but it’s a process. It’s a process of what we’re actually speaking about the sound designers, their intention. How they interpreted the film and how we bounced those ideas off each other to come up with how we would actually design the sound for those spoken word sections.

journey

All of that stuff is awesome.

I looked back at it the other day and I was like, wow, we really did this. So I can’t wait to see other people’s reactions to it. That gives me some motivation to keep creating.

Follow Miles Brown at @mylo.vid
Find out more at mylojourney.com

Todd Raviotta

Todd Raviotta

Artist in many forms. Sharing love for cutting things up as editor and fine art collage media mixer, love of music as a DJ, and love of light in photography and video. Educator of Film Studies and Video Production for over two decades. Long time RVAmag contributor and collaborator.




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