Miles Wide: Kyle Donovan Is a Self-Made, DIY Musician with Boulder Roots

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Kyle Donovan is touring miles and miles as Miles Wide.

Those of the Boulder music scene may hear some familiar sounds around town this week. Just over a year ago, Kyle Donovan and his band Miles Wide were playing gigs around Boulder before Kyle decided to quit his day job, move home to Rochester, NY, and embark on a coast to coast solo tour under the same project name. In that time, Kyle has played over 100 shows.

If you’re looking for an idea of his sound, it’s this: Kyle’s raw, velvety vocal range carries you alongside his strumming melodies and honest lyrics. His intonations are so clear, you feel like he’s in your living room. And if you’ve seen his introspective, folky performances live, you wish he really were.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Kyle & chat about his do-it-yourself lifestyle, why he left his 9-5, and what his average day is like on tour.

Quitting your day job and setting out on a national tour is a huge commitment. How did you decide to embark on this adventure?

Well I’m really fortunate in that I have supportive friends and family. A big part of it for me is there are a lot of people in my life who have believed in me and my music. I graduated school [at CU] with a degree in philosophy and political science. I got a day job in my field working for a non-profit, which was great, but I just wasn’t really happy. And my friends let me know that they could tell I wasn’t happy. Two of them said to me, ‘Listen- if there is anyone I know who can make music their full-time job, it’s you!’ And my parents said the same thing.

I was also playing in Boulder [at that time], and it’s a tight knit scene here. When I started going to open mics at Johnny’s Cigar Bar, I met Pete Laffin and he really encouraged me to go for it. The community here was receptive and warm- it took me in as a friend of the scene.

So this drive I have to play 100 shows in a year and to kick so much ass- the drive is because I want to prove them all right. I want everyone to feel like they were right to have confidence in me.

That has to be huge to have that kind of support system as a solo artist. I know you mentioned being big on the do-it-yourself philosophy when it comes to your music. Tell me more about that.

So as far as being do-it-yourself, I started reading a bunch of independent music blogs [of artists] who were kind of out there doing things [on their own]. Once I quit my day job, everything became about my music. I designed my website, album art, and all of my social media. I do my own press; my own booking. A big part of me is that I’m self-made. I taught myself to play guitar, I started writing all of my own music two years ago, and I’ve booked this entire tour myself.

Kyle & Sam Sherman at a recent Laughing Goat performance. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Kyle & Sam Sherman at a recent Laughing Goat performance. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

That’s amazing! What were you seeking to find when you set out on tour?

I wanted to see the country and what cities jumped out for me - the really, really big cities are no fun [to play]. Nobody pays attention to you; no one cares. They just want background noise. I love playing in little cities; small towns. If there is one thing that this tour has taught me, it’s that the kindness of strangers is limitless. I’ve met people from all over the world who happen to be in the right place at the right time and they want to share what they have [with me].  I’ve tapped into a community of generous and giving people.

That’s so interesting. So when you’re on tour, what’s your average day like?

I typically spend 2-3 days in a place. If it’s a travel day, I wake up, check my email, get on the road, eat a Clif Bar, and drive to the next city. When I get there, I hit a cafe, get on a computer, and make sure I’m up to date on all the press for the next city I’m going to, and that I have somewhere to stay. I spend hours in coffee shops; they’re my new favorite places. And then I go to the show that night.

Croonin'. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Croonin'. Photo Credit: Hannah Oreskovich

Awesome! So what are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Boulder is my last leg of the tour. I have a show coming up at the Twisted Pine on the 27th. And then when I get back to Rochester, I want to record 10 new songs I’ve written while traveling. I want to put out a new album, and then I intend to keep touring and meeting new people and seeing more of the country.

Cool- we can’t wait to hear it Kyle. Check out Miles Wide here. And to listen to my personal favorite Miles Wide song, click here.

-Hannah

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All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.