Kendall Sallay-Milotz

One night about 10 years ago, I saw The Record Winter play The Blank Club in San Jose.

Dominic Miranda took off his black-rimmed glasses — now clearly unable to see the audience in front of him — and launched into what would become one of my favorite shows of this lifetime.

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I stood in the middle of the room, transfixed by this band’s performance. The heavy, dark-folk waltzes. The beautifully blaring guitars and perfectly understated drums. Dominic’s unpretentious rawness and open-throated vocals that made my heart ache — a sound I would come to know so well in the years ahead.

A sound I’ll forever aspire to emulate.

I met Dominic after the show and told him I was just blown away. He was bashful, nervous, probably embarrassed, as my overzealous, early-20-something self accosted him with high praise.

Over the next couple years, we developed a strange, cautious friendship that neither of us navigated very well. Sometimes we would talk music, other times I would blow up when he drunk-dialed me in the middle of the night, spewing admonishments while trying to learn how to set boundaries.

Well, I set the boundaries. And just as importantly, Dominic respected them.

We slowly built a new friendship that we would come to define as brother-sister. It wasn’t perfect (what friendship is?) but there was underlying respect, understanding, and consistent effort to support each other in a wholesome, earnest way.

From there, I had the incredible honor of recording backup vocals on several tracks for The Record Winter, and even performing with them live before they disbanded.

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I loved singing with Dominic, even when the intense character of his voice sometimes butted heads with my comparatively reserved, almost choral tones. It didn’t matter to either of us. In fact, I like to think it was reflective of our friendship. He had endured physical and mental health struggles, had plenty of vices, loved gruesome horror movies. I looked like a coddled goody-two-shoes next to him. It just didn’t matter.

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In the fall of 2018 (years after my band relocated to Portland) we reconnected when he flew me to San Francisco to record backup vocals for his new album under the name Payphone. We spent the weekend recording to tape (a crazy experience) at Tiny Telephone, and once again, I was taken aback by my friend’s songcraft and creative vision.

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Up until the week Dominic passed away, he was still demoing and laying plans to record yet another EP. He had asked me to sing backups again. I took for granted that we would get to do this, because I had seen him persevere over and over again, overcoming absolutely brutal ailments and continuing to create.

He told me his time was running out, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it. His doctors were going to fix things.

When I learned that he was gone yesterday — that his heart had failed — I felt like my head would explode. He hadn’t gotten to record the new songs. “Where is my friend?” The remastered Payphone record wasn’t even up on Spotify yet. “I just messaged him this morning.” He wasn’t done and he wasn’t ready to go.

But his body had other ideas, and those of us left behind have to learn to accept this. My heart goes out to his mom, dad, sister, grandparents, and other loved ones. If you’re reading this, my husband Dirk (also a great admirer of Dominic) and I are sending you all our love.

Half of me has lost a dear friend — someone I came to rely on, who I messaged back and forth with daily, especially during the pandemic.

The other half of me feels small, like a child, who has lost a musical hero. His vocals, lyrics, and guitar tones are iconic. I want the world to hear them.

Dominic, my brother, I love you and I’ll miss you terribly. Dirk and I will do everything in our power to keep your songs alive, and I trust that the rest of your musical collaborators and listeners who love your music will do the same.

You deserve an eternity of peace, comfort, and happiness, free from the struggles of this world, and I hope you’re now basking in just that. We’ll sing together again someday. Until then, your music will remain a central part of our life soundtrack, and I’ll be forever thankful for the friendship we had, the songs we shared, and the voice in my head that says “sing it like Dominic.”

Hear The Record Winter’s “Surely Mine,” which we sang together >

Dominic Miranda’s Discography

Dominic created a lifetime career’s worth of music before his mid-thirties, transitioning seamlessly between the genres of folk rock, political punk, and indie rock n’ roll. His credits include songwriting, vocals, guitar, piano, and more. He may have had even more projects than the bands listed below.

The Record Winter (For fans of folk, dark folk, indie rock, psyche rock)

Full Bandcamp page >
Starter tracks:

The Record Winter live:

Rex Goliath (For fans of hardcore punk, political punk)

Full Bandcamp page >
Starter tracks:

Payphone (For fans of indie rock, rock n’ roll)

Full Bandcamp page >
Starter tracks:

We have lost an incredible artist. Please spin Dominic’s songs today and for years to come. He is loved and will be deeply missed.

Visit dominicmirandamusic.com for more information.

Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter in Portland dream pop band Starover Blue

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