Jamie Miller has no time for armchair critics who’ve sounded the death knell for New York City from the COVID-19 crisis.
The British singer-songwriter made his major label debut in July with his sterling single, “City That Never Sleeps.” Co-written with MNEK, Noise Club and Asia Whitacre, the track finds Miller in a wistful mood. The 22-year-old croons of a lost love while reminiscing about a bustling Manhattan in nonpandemic times.
“Everybody goes through heartbreak, especially in a big city where you have memories [attached to] restaurants, cinemas and arcades,” Miller told HuffPost. “I love New York because it reminds me of London. With everything going on right now, I want to pay my respects to that, too.”
Miller unveiled the music video for “City That Never Sleeps,” showing him on a Big Apple rooftop and at the piano in a warehouse space, last month. Unable to hit the road, he performed the song live for the first time alongside a socially distanced band for a virtual Atlantic Records showcase days later.
Catch the chilling live performance of “City That Never Sleeps” above.
Three weeks after its release, “City That Never Sleeps” continues to resonate with music fans. As of Friday morning, the track had been streamed over 459,000 times on Spotify, and its music video had received more than 861,000 YouTube views.
Such figures are impressive, given that Miller has until now been known primarily for his video covers of mainstream hits. His talents have caught the eye of stars like Kelly Clarkson, Pink and Sam Smith, each of whom have praised his performances of their songs on social media.
At first, Miller was humbled by that superstar support. In hindsight, it’s given him confidence to forge ahead with his own career as a singer-songwriter. Growing up in Cardiff, Wales, Miller demonstrated musical talent at an early age, but didn’t think a career in the arts would be stable, much less lucrative.
“I love my hometown, but it’s a really hard place for opportunity,” he said. “I loved music, I loved art, I loved every aspect of being creative. But I was taught I was only made for the street I lived on.”
After graduating from secondary school ― the U.K. equivalent of high school ― Miller landed a job at a local call center. One day, he started singing to himself ― or so he thought. A manager happened to overhear the impromptu performance over the intercom and urged Miller to pursue singing and songwriting. In 2017, he landed a stint as a contestant on the U.K. edition of “The Voice,” ending up in third place.
A year later, he relocated to Los Angeles, and has been primarily holed up in the studio since then. His second single, “Onto Something,” is due for release later this year ahead of a forthcoming EP.
Of course, he couldn’t have anticipated the challenges of launching a solo career during a pandemic, when opportunities to perform and engage with new fans are limited. Citing Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake as sonic influences, he’s “learned to appreciate his wings” in self-isolation and view songwriting as a personal form of therapy.
“I vibe off of other people, so it’s hard to stay creative when you’re in the same space, 24/7,” he said. “All I ever wanted to do was music, so I don’t think I’ve wasted this time. We’re lucky to be alive. At least I can still perform from my bedroom.”
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