AT 39 Newcastle guitar virtuoso Adam Miller is at that age when most people are settled down with mortgages and maybe a couple of kids.
But suburban dreams have never appealed to Miller and his wife, jazz and pop singer Holly Clayton.
In January 2019 the pair relocated to Los Angeles to immerse themselves full-time in the Californian city's thriving jazz scene. It was a bold step, but one that paid dividends.
"There were two things," Miller says when asked what he learnt from rubbing shoulders with LA's jazz elite on a regular basis.
"To refine your game and work to your strengths. You stop being competitive in a way.
"That's what is cool about it. It wasn't about trying to be the best at everything and beat everyone at what they do, it was trying to be your best self musically and really focus in on what makes you unique.
"That's what was great for me. It really allowed me to think about writing songs that I loved and enjoyed playing every time I was somewhere and going through my old catalogue and seeing what best represents me here."
Miller made several trips back between Newcastle and LA over the summer and was last in the US in February. In late March he and Clayton were meant to return to LA full-time and move into a house in the hip inner north-east suburb of Eagle Rock, but those plans were scuppered by COVID-19.
Miller admits he and Clayton heavily contemplated ditching their LA life for a simpler suburban existence in Newcastle, but dreams are not that easily cast aside.
"My last album was a lot about that," he says. "It was called The Defining Of Success, it was saying what is success to you and what does it actually look like, especially as you're getting older and thinking am I really still doing this?
"At some point you don't have an option anymore. We had a huge discussion towards the end of last year talking about, 'Alright do we really commit to moving to LA or do we settle down in Newcastle?'
"We both kind of freaked out about the idea of settling down and not pursuing dreams still. Maybe it's just how we are, but it felt more comfortable to be uncomfortable."
One dream Miller has ticked off his bucket list is recording an album in LA. His seventh album Unify is bound for release on August 7 and features prominent LA musicians bassist Joel Gottschalk and drummer Justin Glasco.
We both kind of freaked out about the idea of settling down and not pursuing dreams still.- Adam Miller
Miller met Glasco while performing at one of Mason Stoops' infamous GuiTaco nights in Anaheim shortly after moving to the US. A few weeks later Glasco invited Miler to Gottschalk's house for a jam and the three became tight friends.
The three-piece spent much of last year touring the US together playing in small jazz clubs and Miller asked them back when he recorded Unify in December.
The album includes a mix of compositions written prior to moving to LA, and others that were directly influenced by the inspiring new environment.
Often Miller would head home after watching a gig and teach himself what he'd heard, which inevitably twisted into a completely new composition.
Miller says he focused on his strengths when writing Unify. Melody was central to every song.
"I'm an instrumental guitar player so it's very much always associated with virtuosity," he says. "I have spent time doing that, but I realised how much of a songwriter I am.
"While none of my songs have lyrics, all the songwriting took a focus and exploring that and getting the most out of those things and, that it turn, allowed me to play the guitar how I wanted to play.
"That's been the focus. Rather than working out how to play the crazy riff, I was always working on the song more than anything."
The single Adam Levy was released two weeks ago and was named after Miller's long-time friend, who has performed with some of America's finest songwriters in Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman and Ani DiFranco.
"He's been a huge influence on me as a guitar player but also in my career, seeing how he could do shows in stadiums and then the next night play in a small bar in east LA. He was just willing to make music in any environment," Miller says.
Levy and Miller were playing together at a morning cafe jam session organised by Shania Twain guitarist Joshua Ray Gooch when fragments of the song emerged.
"Adam played this beautiful chord progression and I asked him if I could steal it and finish writing it as a song," he says.
With any return to LA likely blocked until 2021, Miller plans to remain in Newcastle and focus on Australian touring once COVID-19 restrictions ease.
"We'd definitely love to get back to LA eventually, it feels as much home as Newcastle does now," he says. "We have great friends there and it's seems to be constantly inspiring.
"The hope is to get back there at some point, but we're not counting on when."
Adam Miller's Unify will be released on August 7.
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