South Yorkshire born-songwriter and producer Aeris Roves makes music following Frank Ocean’s school of thought: his instrumentals are nuanced, drawing on electronic elements as often as they lean on classic percussion.
His songs are a practise in subtlety, where every sound – though gentle and muted – is always used to great effect beneath a soulful voice. Debut mixtape, Moon by Island Gardens – named after a regular South East London-haunt for Roves to clear his mind and draw inspiration from – was a fitting title choice. Poised and reflective, the songs were made for the small hours.
20-year old Roves – born Kyle Miller – has experienced a meteoric rise since his first performance: “As an artist, I always felt like there was something other inside apart from myself,” he tells me. “The first time I showcased ‘Aeris Roves’ at a performance, I met the people who would push me forward. There was only six months between that show and signing my first publishing deal. When I got off stage and listened to the feedback, it made me believe in myself.”
Among those people was producer Ben Ash, aka Two Inch Punch, who became something of an early mentor to Roves, producing many of the tracks on Moon by Island Gardens. “Soul/R&B in this country has always fallen so short but this guy is absolutely everything we’ve needed,” Ash says. “As soon as Aeris’s manager played me his early demos, I just wanted to drop all other projects and work with him. I’ve not had a feeling like that probably ever.”
It wouldn’t be long until Roves also caught the eye of transatlantic prodigy Billie Eilish. They are each other’s sonic mirror image, where sparsity accentuates the richness of their vocals. Eilish invited Roves to support her on a European tour earlier this year. “That was very eye-opening.” Roves say. “We did that tour in February, and at that time she had something like 700,000 followers – now she has over 7 million, to give some perspective. I had a privileged level of access, seeing how people like Billie worked and the reactions she got – not to mention everyone around her. You don’t normally get to see that. Beyond that, it was an incredible experience. Touring Europe was something I’d always dreamed of, and for that to be my first tour… I can’t really describe it, to be honest.”
See Aeris Roves live in the UK this November.