Staff Spotlight: Miles Hewitt, Singer-Songwriter Extraordinaire

 Poetry Reader Miles Hewitt.
Poetry Reader Miles Hewitt.

Miles Hewitt is the Resident Music Dude of The Adroit Journal. Just kidding, he’s a reader on the poetry staff. But we love Miles and his music enough that we might as well give him a new title. Also, we’re about 87% sure that he shares a bloodline with either Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, or bothbut you can speculate about the validity of that statement for yourself. We’re ready to shine the spotlight on our Resident Music Dude Miles Hewitt, who is a Harvard student by day, and a rock-n-roll-poet by night.

Amanda Silberling, Blog Editor: Tell me a bit about the Miles Hewitt Journeywhat came first, the poetry or the music?

Miles Hewitt, Poetry Reader: Actually, it was the fiction. When I was in 7th grade, I was working on a Harry Potter-meets-Redwall(-meets-Dickens?) adventure story. Realizing pretty quickly that prose necessitates knowing how to do things like have characters talk to one another, I abandoned that and moved onto songwriting, which is what I’ve been doing ever since. Poetry’s a recent excursion; got tired of chord changes.

Also the Miles Hewitt Journey is hopefully coming soon to some sort of Disney-arena.

AS: What do you find to be different between writing poetry and writing songs?

MH: Writing songs starts with the musical framework, where the melody and the changes inform the words, and then the words in reverse demand certain musicality to back them up. Poems are only beholden to their own rhythm. Kind of like stitching fabric versus unraveling a spool. I guess also poetry feels like more of an act of revelation, where I’m actually trying to decode something emotionally or intellectually through writing. Like teasing out some kind of meaning or at least wrapping my head around the magnitude of something. Whereas the songs feel like they flow from something more outside of me.

AS: Do you find that you write about the same topics in poetry and song, or do the different genres inspire different subjects?

MH: They’re the same in that a song or a poem is me getting down whatever I’ve been mulling over, but I think a song probably exists even more within the idiom I’m using. So a folk song is going to sound like it’s a folk songI think good songwriting sounds like it’s always existed, so I guess I judge a good song when it feels like it’s coming from beyond me. A poem is more like listening to me talk, or at least I hope so. Because a poem is just my thoughts on the page, no “noise.”

AS: Both poetically and musically, who are your influences lately?

MH: Oooh, influences. I could talk for hours about Joni MitchellI’ve discovered her in the last year or so and I’m just blown away by her utterly unique voice (as a writer and literally the way she sings). She’s all the things I want to be: daring, silly, strange. I was lucky enough to take a poetry class with Jorie Graham this past school year and she’s changed my poetic philosophy, if that’s the kind of phrase I can just throw around, pretty fundamentally. She’s all about calling directly to your reader, trapping them in the nexus you’ve discovered. And there are countless others: Jack White, Isaac Brock, Beck. Regina Spektor. Chris Onstad. I get bored by anyone who’s not courageous and their own. There’s a wash of stuff out there I shrug my shoulders at because it feels lazy.

AS: How did your band start?

MH: Which one? [Laughs] [He added in his typed transcript] 

I’ve been playing in bands since the beginning of high school… This one, The Solars, came together around the time I released my record “Empire” last summer. I wanted to play some shows to support it and called up some friends, all guys I’d played with a bunch before. We just sort of took it from the recordings, but all the songs have evolved a lot with the group. Quetzel (the best drummer in the world) and I are planning on getting things rolling in a few months when we’re back in Boston.

AS: Is it difficult to keep a band going living between Washington and Boston?

MH: Yeah, it’s definitely not ideal. But I guess at this stage it’s fine for what it is. Once we’re getting ready to put out No. 1 records and stuff, it’ll probably be more important to all live near each other. Check back in six months!

AS: Speaking of bands, you’re the creator of a long list of wonderfully bizarre band names. What are some of your favorites?

MH: Oh, man. The beauty of the list in question is that everyone’s going to have their own favorites, and a lot of them I didn’t come up with. But my favorite from that list is probably always really liked “Hey! in the Needlestack.”  I also played in a garage-rock group called “Hobos With Glowsticks” for a while. We were pretty proud of that name.

AS: What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?

MH: About a month ago, my band played a show at my old high school (as an “alumni band,” which was strange in itself) as soon as we walked out on the stage, 600 people started screaming. It was like being in The Beatles. And after the initial roar died down, a second, shriller tide of “WE LOVE YOU, QUETZEL!”s swelled up from the back. Q’s always had a strong following among the fairer sex. I think someone’s mom once called him the “J.B. of the senior class,” which was one of the most uncomfortable moments of our high school experience.

People give me drinks sometimes. Is that weird? That’s probably not very weird. Like, while I’m onstage they give me stuff to drink.

AS: Like, orange juice, right? [Non-existent audience laughs]

MH: Yeah, OJ’s huge this side of the Mason-Dixon.

AS: Scenario: The Solars have just received an exciting e-mail and were invited to play at a festival. You open the e-mail and find out that this is your dream performance: the location, the other musicians, the festival nameeverything. Describe this dream performance.

MH: Alright, damn. Hm. We’re playing at the Columbia River Gorge Amphitheater, which is this beautiful stadium carved into rock, close to where I live. Before the show, the band’s lounging around backstage. Oh, wait, who’s that knocking on the green room door? It’s Bob Dylan, who nods curtly and does not give a thumbs-up, although it is implied that there is some amount of approval. We go on to play the show and are joined in the encore by Thomas Pynchon, who the audience does not recognize because he is Thomas Pynchon, but we’re starting to put it together. Secretly, we are surprised by his lack of ability with the tambourine–an instrument everyone, especially famous authors, would do well to familiarize themselves with for just such occasionsbut we’re happy for him to be there. He needs to get out more, we think. I’d like our set to begin as the sun’s setting, but I won’t be a stickler about it if Elvis Costello or Aesop Rock or Wilco want to go on then. The festival is simply called “Williams ’15” after blues legend Jaboi Williams who I think recently passed away. The projectors are designed by Adam S. Jackson and Brady Schmitt, recognized as perhaps THE graphic artists of our generation.

AS: More importantly, do Adroit staff get free tickets? [Non-existent audience laughs once more.]

MH: Oh, the concert’s free.

AS: What has been your favorite moment on Adroit staff?

MH: Meeting some of the staff at the retreat a couple weeks ago. I can’t wait to be able to tell people that fifteen years ago I was hanging out with Talin Tahajian or Alexa Derman or any of them, talking about Shakespeare and the future of the LGBT movement. Dudes can write circles around me.

AS: As frightening as this question may be, what can we expect from Miles in the future?

MH: Probably disposable camera pix from the Sphinx, or maybe I’ll turn up in some some fringe vaporwave collective. I want to work for Wikipedia and fall in love, hard, and learn how to cook something, anything. Spirituality may be in the future but based on the prequels I’m skeptical. In all seriousness, the same it’s always been: join a rock ‘n’ roll band and take over the world. Eventually I hope I am buried with a tombstone that says “MILES HEWITT / 1994 – 20xx / SWEET BRO / NICE BRO” or else launched into outer space. Mars, maybe.

Miles Hewitt is a sophomore at Harvard University. He pens songs, poems, and status messages, records LPs in basements illuminated by torch, watches things happen, smirks, and cleans his glasses. Dude is madly in love with New York City, though he hails from the noble territory of Washington. Has been known to crackle wit and goof merriment. Won an award for poems, once; later, the White House chose him to be one of five National Student Poets. But let’s not jump to conclusions. Miles is considering a career as a strong fisherman should the “rock-&-roll-poet” line of business not pan out.

Amanda Silberling

Amanda Silberling is a student at the University of Pennsylvania from South Florida. Her poems, essays, and reviews appear in Crab Orchard Review, PANK, The Los Angeles Times, and The Rumpus, among others. She currently serves as the Blog Editor for The Adroit Journal and a writer/photographer for Rock On Philly. Find her on Twitter at @asilbwrites.

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