Tyler Joe Miller had a breakout 2020, but while he watched his debut single go gold and the awards pile up, he was unable to get out there and actually play his music.
The Surrey country singer released his debut single, Pillow Talkin’, in December 2019, but due to the pandemic he was unable to go on tour. Despite that challenge, 2020 was a strong year for Miller as Pillow Talkin’ reached No. 1 on the Billboard Canada Country chart and he picked up B.C. Country Music Association awards for Single of the Year, Male Artist of the Year and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year.
Now with COVID-19 restrictions being loosened Miller is finally able to get his music in front of an audience. He said being back on stage “just feels like home.”
“It’s one of those surreal feelings where it just feels right,” he said. “And hearing people sing my own songs back to me and them knowing the lyrics, that is probably one of the craziest feelings I’ve ever had, where I can let the crowd finish the chorus off for me.”
Miller started off as a backup singer and accompanist, and on Aug. 28 he makes his first Island appearance since striking out on his own as a recording artist when he headlines the Vancouver Island Exhibition main stage. His plan for the show? “Have a good time and party and play some country music.”
“The guys [in the band] actually ask me, they go, ‘What kind of vibe are we looking for on stage? What are we planning?’” Miller said. “And what I’d said to them was, ‘I want it to be we’re a bunch of buddies having a blast playing country music and there just so happens to be a crowd around us.’”
Miller’s recent success comes after taking a break from music to focus on his non-profit work building homes in Guatemala. One night a colleague overheard him singing and playing guitar and asked him why he wasn’t pursuing music.
“He goes, ‘Well, what if you got into country music and maybe built a platform for yourself to where people would not only want to hear what you have to sing, but then what you have to say and you can have a bigger level of influence and try to help more people?’” Miller said. “And I was like, ‘Well, crap, that sounds like a great idea.’”
That exchange gave Miller the motivation to give music another shot and after catching a label’s attention with a music video he soon found himself with a record deal.
“I stopped chasing music for a few years, and then all of a sudden music started chasing me,” he said. “And so I’m just riding this wave and seeing where it takes me.”
WHAT’S ON … Tyler Joe Miller performs at the Vancouver Island Exhibition, Beban Park, on Aug. 28 at 9 p.m. Tickets $5, available at the gate. Children six and under get in free.