Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ‘Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
Touring can sometimes be unforgiving.
Twenty-one-year-old Miles “DJ Miles” Walker has been deejaying since he was 13 years old and started touring with Rico Nasty in 2017 after connecting through Twitter direct messages. The PG County, Maryland native is now near the end of his junior year at Clark Atlanta University, but the Business and Administration major has had to choose between his academic future and his future in music.
“I had one teacher last year say, ‘It would be unfair to other students for you to take the final early, so you’re just going to have to drop the class.’ I’ve had some negative experiences,” Miles told REVOLT TV. “I showed her the tour schedule and she was like, ‘No, it doesn’t matter. This is the final.’ So, I had to drop the class right before the final.
For this edition of ‘Tour Tales,’ DJ Miles explains how a fan ended up with Rico Nasty’s spit in their mouth at a show, the evolution of the rapper and more.
How did you link up with Rico Nasty?
I linked up with her, actually, from Twitter. She had DM’ed me back in 2017, my freshman year of college. I had the #1 mixtape series every month on Spinrilla for three years. It was called ‘Tracks of the Month.’ She used to listen to it and that’s how she found out about me. I knew about her. I wanted to get a drop from her to put on the mixtape. She sent the drop and I guess a month or two after that, she DM’ed me, ‘Hey, I’m having a show. I want you to deejay for me.’ We linked up, we practiced and after that show, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to be your official DJ. I like your vibe.’
At this point, she had about 15,000 followers [on Instagram]. The show, it sold out, but there were like only 300 people. It was at Songbyrd [Music House and Record Cafe] in D.C. around the second half of my freshman year.
Rico Nasty is such an eccentric personality with her music and her outfits. She seems like the most fun on tour. What is she like off stage, on the road?
She’s very laid back and a funny person. She’s very funny. I won’t say she’s introverted, but she’s a little introverted to newer people. But, she’s outgoing if you know her. She’s just cool and fun to hang out with.
What would you say is the funniest moment on tour that can speak to the humor Rico Nasty has?
She tweeted out, while we were on the [The Nasty] tour, ‘Will anybody let me spit in their mouth?’ or something like that. There was this one girl who told Rico she wanted her to spit in her mouth when she got to the show. When Rico was onstage, she was able to spit in the girl’s mouth and the whole thing went viral. We laughed about that. It’s a running joke that now, whenever we go to shows, it’s girls that ask, ‘Can you spit in my mouth?’
The onstage chemistry is the most important for the DJ and artist. How long did it take before y’all had chemistry?
I would say it happened over our first tour. That was when we were around each other the most. The first few shows — let me take it back to the beginning. We actually have mutual friends. But, we didn’t know we did until we met, got to know each other and found out we live 10 minutes away from each other. We’re both from PG County, Maryland. We linked up in summer 2017. Then, I went back to school. I would get flown from Atlanta to wherever the show was.
We would do a whole bunch of one-offs for our first few shows. We really didn’t spend that much time together. We would spend a few hours together in the city and then, I’d have to go back to school after the show. We weren’t really together until the first tour (the ‘Sugar Trap 2 Tour’). That’s when we truly figured out who each other were and got the stage chemistry. We’d go over the set and just bond. I’d say she’s a big sister to me now.
You would get flown out from school to shows. How do you balance school with being Rico Nasty’s DJ?
Last semester, I tried to do online classes. That didn’t really work out because we went overseas so much that the timing wouldn’t work. Now, we have a calendar, so it’s more organized. I’ll see when I have a test and I’ll try to accomodate that. Now, our shows are Thursdays. But, if it’s a Wednesday show, I’ll leave Wednesday morning and come back to school Thursday.
Has being Rico Nasty’s DJ interfered with your school work?
Yeah, there were times I’d be coming back to school from New York, this semester, and flights would get delayed and canceled because of snow. So, I had to miss entire days of school. Some of the teachers are accommodating and understand what I’m trying to do with this whole DJ thing. Then, there are others that are strictly by the book. They’re like, ‘It’s in the syllabus. If you have more than four unexcused absences…’ I had one teacher last year say, ‘It would be unfair to other students for you to take the final early, so you’re just going to have to drop the class.’ I’ve had some negative experiences. I showed her the tour schedule and she was like, ‘No, it doesn’t matter. This is the final.’ So, I had to drop the class right before the final.
You started with Rico when she had 15,000 followers and only 300 people at shows. What was the first show y’all did together where she understood that her fanbase had grown dramatically?
We did a show at Echostage back home. It holds about 3,000 people. That’s when I really realized, ‘Wow, we have something here’ because they were sold out. It was us, QDaFool and Shy Glizzy. She went right before Shy Glizzy and all the fans knew every word to every song. It was crazy. So, that’s when we knew.
Her ascension in popularity really happened over the last year. What are some noticeable changes to her live show that you’ve seen over that timeframe?
The first tour we didn’t do any mosh pits or anything. Once she dropped the last few projects with ‘Rage’ and ‘Trust Issues,’ that’s when she started to add the rage concept to her shows. I can’t pinpoint which show it was, but at one point, we were like, ‘Y’all open that shit up’ and we started mosh pits. When we got on the ‘Nasty Tour,’ we filmed it and people came to the show ready to rage, and mosh pit. It really was girls. She has all-girl mosh pits. It really be the girls turning up.
Right now, it’s got to the point where they come to the show and already know what they’re getting into. At SXSW, we had people get injured. Some dude got wheeled out on a stretcher at one of the shows. We had people rush the stage and crowd surf. We didn’t provoke it by saying, ‘Come onstage.’ We just had people jump onstage and jump off. It was wild.
How do you react to fans jumping onstage?
It hasn’t been a dangerous situation. There was only one situation that I can recall where we were like, ‘Yeah, we might have to slow it down.’ It was on the ‘Nasty Tour,’ the girl was trying to run up, and hug her and grab her. She was going crazy.
The crowds get bigger and wilder when you get more popular. But, so does the rider. What is on Rico Nasty’s rider and how has it evolved?
We have basic stuff. She likes Hennessy, lighters, toothbrushes. We have fruits. We have Sour Patch Kids. The one thing she asks for that’s unusual are sun flowers. Not the seeds you eat, but the actual flower.
What was the most memorable show of hers?
It was at the Filmore in D.C (in August 2018). She’s the first female rapper out of D.C. to make it and the first female rapper from Maryland to sell out that venue. Her picture from that show is actually framed in their dressing room. That show was most memorable to me because I felt we were a part of history. We had so many people getting dragged out of the mosh pits. They were jumping the entire time, from the first song to the ending.
Touring is where you find what I call ‘tour hits,’ songs that may not be pushed as singles, but get reactions like they were. What are Rico Nasty’s biggest tour hits?
I would say ‘Smack a Bitch,’ definitely. That’s a crowd favorite. But, recently, her new joint with Doja Cat (‘Tia Tamera’), I feel like that song is a hit. The crowd goes crazy every time we perform it. That’s their favorite right now.
As her DJ, do you get to hear her new music early?
Yeah, they send me some stuff. I’ve heard [the Anger Management project] that’s coming out. It’s incredible.
I was going to ask you about Anger Management. How is it compared to her other projects?
I feel like this one is more conceptual. It’s like an angry sound, but it’s real bars. She’s really rapping and the beats are incredible. I think one song has a JAY-Z sample. I heard them when we went out to L.A. for my spring break, around the time of SXSW. I think we’re performing it at Coachella. So, we’re going to come out with our new setlist around that time.
As her star has risen, has there been major artists or celebrities who have shown some love?
I know Erykah Badu followers her [on Instagram], so she talks to her sometimes. She was really close with XXXtentacion. She actually has a feature on his ? deluxe album coming out in July. It’s called ‘#PROUDCATOWNER (Remix).’ She recorded it a few weeks ago. Also, Frank Ocean follows her on Instagram.
Are there any bonding moments between y’all two?
We went to Camp Flog Gnaw together just to watch the festival. She came out on Earl Sweatshirt’s set. When we’re on tour, smoke sessions are regular on the sprinter. We live close to each other, so sometimes I’ll just go to their house and see how they’re doing.
Most of the money artists make are from touring, but no one really looks at the DJ’s perspective on that. Do you think you can make a career out of being a touring DJ?
I definitely can. I feel like the DJ can be as big as the artist in some instances. You have EDM DJs who produce and that’s what I want to do. I want to be able to tour as an EDM DJ and also as a regular hip hop DJ. As your artist grows, that’s for you to be able to come up with your artist instead of just latching on to any artist that a label put you together with. Artists are more prone to trying to help you, to get you in certain spaces, and put you on more if y’all are actual friends.
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