Aeris Roves is one of the needle-in-a-haystack millenials who has never been on Tinder. For Generation Swipe, he is a genuine unicorn, lending his signature song Offline a particularly poignant, soulful urgency. Crafted in Paul Epworth’s Church studios, a felt experience hangs over the typically airy, spare nature of this potential superstar’s delivery. Because he likes a life offline, it rings all the truer. With Offline, Aeris might just have scripted a sign of the times anthem to putting down your devices and getting on with the dazzling experience of life itself.
“I literally don’t use online dating,” he says, in his beguiling speaking brogue, stitched together from his upbringing up north (Worksop, Yorkshire) and down South (Greenwich, London). Aeris is a palatable conjoin in a Britain that’s sometimes thought of as broken. “I had an app called Hot or Not, a precursor to Tinder. I met a girl on there and spoke to her for six or seven months after that. That was it. I guess that’s my only experience.”
Like many of his age, Aeris is learning to navigate the chasm between the versions people present of themselves online and how that matches up to their reality. “Sometimes it’s a façade. How honest is what you’ve seen? I feel like people are scared to be honest because they don’t think it will be received well. On the other side, they know they need to be honest because no-one can maintain a profile they’re not familiar with. I try to be honest on social media but I struggle with it as well. If it was up to me, I’d steer clear.”
Aeris Roves is a man who likes living. Therefore he’s constantly on the move. As a child he spent a lot of time in the care of his aunt and uncle, who lived a 20-minute drive from his hometown. That journey is deeply ingrained into the mind of the now 21-year-old Kyle Miller. He recalls staring out of the window gazing at rolling hills and beautiful countryside, the drive always soundtracked by a mix of soul and Motown blasting from the car’s cassette player. “There was always music playing” says Kyle. “I had a Walkman so when we got out of the car I’d take the tapes my uncle had been playing and I’d listen to them at home too, that was my first real introduction to music” he explains. “I loved The Drifters, The Temptations, The Four Tops. I loved the melodies and the rhythm, at school I was always the kid who didn't listen to pop music, I still don't.”
“Ever since then, I’ve always attached music to places,” he continues, “we'd be driving around and each song would become rooted to a location, usually some country road.” Fast forward ten years and Kyle now goes by the moniker of Aeris Roves, Aeris meaning atmosphere in Latin, and Roves translating as “to travel”. He lives in South London, and though the views out of the window may look very different, the principle remains the same; music plays a unique and integral part in his life. As does geography. His first EP, Moon By Island Gardens - eight tracks of introspective musings married with futuristic R&B production - is named after a park on the Isle of Dogs which looks out across the River Thames and over Greenwich, a place he’s spent a lot of time since moving to London. He’d regularly cycle there in the middle night, contemplating ideas that would eventually become songs. “There was Greenwich University on the other side and the Royal Observatory on top of the hill” he says, “I couldn’t see anything modern in my line of sight, I'd go there to get away from it all, and it felt like I wasn't really in the city anymore.”
Music has always been a means of escape for Kyle. His childhood was a turbulent one, and though there’s an air of mystery about him, he’s open when discussing his parent’s separation and his mother’s battle with alcohol addiction. “As a kid I played a lot of football and I was always part of the choir” he says. “I was a difficult child and I’d feel really intense emotions that I didn’t know what to do with” he explains. “I didn’t know how to deal with my family problems - there was a lot of arguments and shouting and screaming and I never really had a role model or an older figure I could turn to, so sports and music became my release.”
When the situation worsened Kyle eventually moved to London to live with his Dad. “I moved when I was eleven, so it kind of split my life in the middle like a physical divider” he explains. Naturally intelligent, Kyle did well at school despite having no real interest in academia, but motivated by his father’s idea of success, he studied economics and maths for a short period before eventually quitting college to go to East London Arts & Music college for sixth form. “That was the time I finally started being independant, thinking about what I wanted” he says. “It was the best decision. I learned so much. Musically the person I was when I went in was totally different to the person who came out. In choirs I was a big fish in a small pond, and then my first day at ELAM I sat there like, all of these guys are probably better than me... that feeling really motivated me.”
Though music played a huge part in his life, Kyle didn’t start writing his own songs until his final year at ELAM, during a tumultuous period between him and his first girlfriend. “I was losing interest very rapidly but I didn't want to be that guy who disappears. I learned that I should have just said the truth at the beginning and avoided all the mess…[that first song] was cringe and cheesy but it was kind of the whole onset of my writing.” Working with friends in the ELAM studio he got a handle on production and began to spend all his free time working on new material. A chance meeting with his now manager occurred when a fellow student was looking for a guitarist for one of her college shows, and Kyle stepped up. After a few meetings, his manager Gabrielle connected him with Two Inch Punch, producer for the likes of Damon Albarn, Jessie Ware and Brian Eno, and the pair hit it off immediately.
“Ben [Ash, Two Inch Punch] is a good friend now” says Kyle. “He ended up working with me on the whole project, I've always loved really atmospheric production, I use lots of pads, really lo-fi trippy drums and weird vocal chops and samples” he says. “Something just clicked.” Moon By Island Gardens brilliant marries Kyle’s soulful vocals and unique songwriting skills with Two Inch Punch’s characteristically progressive production. Both Greenwich and the surrounding area, and the relationships Kyle was navigating at the time naturally became a big part of the EP, “Birdseye view, look down on flashing lights / I'd share my view but she's afraid of heights” he wrote in Running Through 3AM, a song inspired by cycling around Island Gardens and watching the sun rise over the city. With his romantic sensibility, introspective songwriting and soulful voice, Kyle is already garnering Frank Ocean comparisons and a loyal following. Singers Billie Eillish and Grace Carter already count themselves as fans, inviting him to open up for their European tours last year.
As Kyle Miller and Aeris Roves, the 21-year-old is making waves in the industry as a refreshing voice who isn’t afraid to be frank about his feelings. Since that very first breakup, Aeris Roves has strengthened and perfected his unique take on relationships, from romance to heartbreak to the pitfalls of masculinity. He skilfully tackles his demons in the form of raw and intelligent songwriting. Of his honesty, he says, “I got to the point where something switched in my head. I am an artist and everything I do is for music. If I lived something or felt an emotion, it has to go in a song. I don’t like to say I write music as a coping mechanism because it sounds so ambiguous, but that’s what it is. Through music I try and be as honest and vulnerable as I can, so that people can know that it’s ok to be emotional, especially as a man. I want people to relate and connect, because I realised if I'd done this great job of putting on a facade, how many other people are doing the same thing?”