9 May 2017 – Robert Miles was born Roberto Concina on 3 November 1969 in Fleurier Switzerland to an Italian military family stationed there. He did not return to Italian soil until the age of ten, settling in the town of Fagagna. Raised primarily on the classic American soul sound of the 1970s, Miles began studying piano as a teen, and at 13 began DJ’ing local house parties. By the late ’80s he was regularly spinning hardcore trance sets at Venice area clubs under the name Robert Milani, eventually adopting the name Miles as symbolic of the musical journey awaiting him. In time, he assembled a basic studio system comprising a sampler, mixer, keyboard, and 32-track digital board, accepting production work with the Italian label Metromaxx.
In 1990, he used his savings to establish his own recording studio and a pirate radio station.
His universal claim to fame “Children,” released in 1994, became an international chart-topper and something else increasingly rare the following year: an entirely instrumental U.S. top 40 hit, peaking at no. 21 on the Hot 100 in July 1996. Though dance music had a major presence on the radio in the mid-’90s, it tended to be of the hi-NRG, diva house variety; big club beats and bigger soul vocals.
But “Children” was a different beast: Huge and undeniable, but also intimate and inscrutable. Its parent album was called Dreamland, and according to a ’96 article in The Observer, the song was in fact written to help combat alcohol/exhaustion/drug-related auto deaths that were sweeping Miles’ home country of Italy — the thought being that if calmer records like Miles’ were played at the end of a DJ’s set, it might lead to less aggressive post-club driving. (The song was also inspired in part by pictures of kids his father had brought from a humanitarian trip to war-torn Yugoslavia, hence the title.) The song cost $200 to record and sold in excess of 5 million copies.
“Children” reached number one in the following countries: Austria (six weeks), Belgium, Denmark, Finland (three weeks), France (11 weeks), Italy, Norway (five weeks), Germany, Spain, Sweden (seven weeks) and Switzerland (13 weeks); beyond that, according to Billboard magazine, it reached the top five in “every European country that has a singles chart”. It spent 13 weeks at number one on the Eurochart Hot 100, reached number two on the UK staying 17 weeks on the chart, and it reached number 21 in the US, holding that position for four weeks.
“Children” sounds like it easily could’ve been one of those cross-genre marriages; its ethereal guitar picking and cavernous production originally belong to the beatless ambience of a track from a Pure Moods compilation. It’s that pretty, but it’s also that propulsive: The song’s throbbing bass, spectral synths and punishingly metronomic beat ensure the song sounded just as natural at an underground rave as a spa resort.
After finding mainstream success with Children, he had two further UK top 10 singles – Fable and One & One – and went on to release five albums.He resurfaced in 1997 with 23 AM. Miles’ next full-length, Organik, arrived in 2001 and featured appearances by Bill Laswell, Trilok Gurtu, and Talvin Singh. The double-disc set Organik Remixes was issued two years later, followed by a collaborative release with Gurtu, Miles_Gurtu, in 2004, and Th1rt3en in 2011.
Miles launched a Balearic radio station Open Lab in 2012, which plays experimental music on the island of Ibiza.
In a statement, the station said: “Robert was more than just an artist, he was a pioneer, a creator, an inspiration, a son, a father, our friend.”