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Jason Miller: “If You Have Better Taste in Beer, You Tend to Have Better Taste in Music.”

May 6, 2015

JasonMiller01OnlineAs part of our partnership with Philly Beer Scene magazine, we’re documenting Philly’s relationships between music and beer. For a recent issue of Philly Beer Scene, G.W. Miller III caught up with Jason Miller (no relation), the Philadelphia rep for Bella Vista Beer Distributor, a massive record collector, part-time DJ and beat maker.

Take one look at Jason Miller’s Graduate Hospital area apartment and you can learn a lot about the 29-year old originally from South Jersey.

There are vinyl records everywhere – in crates and boxes, on shelves, sitting on tables and resting on the floor. Scattered around the room is a world of beer paraphernalia – marketing posters, draft lines, empty cans and a few cases that once held bottles but now hold music. There are a few turntables, lots of speakers and several pairs of immaculate Fila sneakers.

“If you have better taste in beer,” Miller says, “you tend to have better taste in music.”

Miller is the Philadelphia County sales rep for Bella Vista Beer Distributor, where he’s worked for the past five years. He started with the company in the retail shop, running the register.

“I was content not making much money,” Miller recalls, “as long as I was surrounded by beer.”

Within a year, however, he was meeting with clients around the city, pushing craft beers to new audiences.

Along the way, he’s developed a few relationships that have fostered his side project – music. He’s DJed at The Trestle Inn and 12 Steps Down. And he and his musical business partner, Napoleon Suarez, have held events at Bottle Bar East, bridging craft beers and hip hop beats.

“Hip hop producers don’t have an outlet in the city,” Miller says. “We’re trying to inspire these entrepreneurs to just do it.”

Miller, who started playing bass guitar when he was 15, began making beats on his Sony PlayStation in the late 90s after the MTV Music Generator software was introduced. Instantly, he was hooked.

A few years later, he got serious, bought a Korg ElecTribe SX-1 synthesizer and started collecting wax. He now has more than 5,000 records.

The idea was to create beats for MCs to rap over. But he just kept making more and more beats. He tried rapping over his own music, performing under the moniker of The Dutchman, but it didn’t last.

“I can’t rap,” Miller says. “That’s just not for me. I don’t like to write. I don’t like to be on the mic. I just like to make beats.”

After nearly 15 years of making beats, he’s ready to drop his first album, called Old Man Winter. It’s in response to Suarez’s instrumental album that dropped last summer, called Boy of Summer.

In 2011, Suarez created CrateStream, an online outlet where producers can show off their sounds.

The next wave of that site is Craft Beats, which is an online resource for beat makers. Right now, it’s mostly an extension of CrateStream. But Miller and Suarez hope to soon post interviews with producers, offer instructional videos, possibly sell gear and otherwise provide producers with all the resources they need to make beats.

“My tastes exceed my capabilities,” jokes Suarez. “Now we’re trying to help people to get to the next level.”

For now, it’s just a side project. Miller has other plans for his long-term future.

“I want to own a brewery someday,” he says. “And I want to own a record label.”

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