Shazam Meets…T. Mills
Travis Tatum Mills aka T. Mills has had a great few years. Starting out as a bedroom producer at the tender age of 17 he now has a string of releases under his belt and a forthcoming full length album due for release in 2012 via Columbia, the self confessed creator of Hip-Pop seems to be on a roll.
T. Mills recently took time out from his current European tour to stop by at Shazam HQ and talk about his influences, his plans for 2012 and his love of Tattoo’s.
How did you get into making music?
I got a Macbook when I was 17 which had GarageBand on it so I just started f***ing around and I got some instrumentals from the internet and made a few demos in my bedroom. Then I set up MySpace page, back when MySpace was popular, and I just started attracting fans. After that I made a music video for $100 with my friends that we posted on MySpace and it got 100,000 views on the first day; which garnered attention from a lot of record labels.
Do you still use MySpace or have you changed the way you share your music as technology has progressed?
Primarily now I use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and SoundCloud. I haven’t been on MySpace in ages.
Which bands/artists influence your music?
My mum listened to a lot if Queen and The Eagles when I was growing up. My dad was a big Elvis fan but the first band I fell in love with was Blink 182 and then there was people like NOFX and New Found Glory. My uncle got me into Hip-Hop; stuff like Wu-Tang Clan, Tupac, Biggie and Bones Thug- N-Harmony. R Kelly was the first R’n’B artist I listened to and then after that I got an Usher tape. When I started downloading music I just went crazy.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
An orgy of sounds… Hip-Pop or Strip-Hop. I’ve kind of coined those little terms.
Were you surprised by your success after starting out producing tracks in your bedroom?
Definitely, it was inspiring to just watch something I started in my bedroom grow day after day. Going from being in my bedroom to be able to fly overseas and sell out shows on tour and have fans is just great.
Why do you think a lot of new artists are turning to the internet & giving away music for free rather than using record labels to promote their music?
I feel like with where music is at right now the internet is a record label. Back in the day you didn’t really have a platform to promote yourself but nowadays you can literally write a song in a couple of hours by yourself then upload it to millions of people with the click of a button. I feel like that’s how we find new music these days. If you want to find a new band or act you go on the internet, you can type in things that you like or go on blogs or YouTube. It’s just a tool, if you know how to market yourself there’s no limit to how many people you can reach.
You’ve used modern technology & social network sites to build your fan base. Would you say your fans are a big part of your success?
100%, if they didn’t like the music or buy tickets I wouldn’t be able to play shows and be able to afford to buy a plane ticket to come over here. So the fans are definitely the fuel to all the fire.
Is this your first time to the UK and Europe? What are most looking forward to whilst your over here?
This is my second time, the last time I was over here I was 15 so it’s the first time I’ve been able to let loose and drink and have fun but it is the first time I’ve been over here as a performer. Tonight’s show in London we’re playing at Koko for Club NME and I’ve heard that it goes off… there’s gonna be 1500 people there. I’m really excited for Amsterdam and Paris; Berlin & Munich are sold out so we had to move them to larger venues.
Just the fact that I can go to different countries and play in front of people who don’t necessarily speak the same language but still know the words to all my songs is amazing. I was in Ireland a few days ago and all the kids that were singing were singing with an accent and I’d never heard that before and it was just so crazy to hear people sing my songs in an Irish accent, it’s just mind blowing.
What can your fans expect from a T. Mills live show?
Ah man… a lot of sweat. There’s a lot of energy and it’s really, really, really loud. Right now we’re playing new songs that are coming out on my album that is coming out in 2012 on Columbia so I’m testing some songs that are in the demo stage and seeing people’s reactions to them. We’re playing some old songs and some songs off ‘Leaving Home’ which is a free album I released a couple of months ago. It’s a lot of fun, I just love performing. I just soak it all in and give all of myself when I’m on stage.
Is it good to have the backing of live musicians rather than it being just you and your computer like back when you started out?
I feel like me having a live drummer just adds an element to my songs that you can’t get from just listening to the records and live drums in anything just boosts the energy up by at least 20 or 50 percent… I’m very mathematical with the energy levels.
Do you have any collaboration’s lined up for the future? If not who would be your dream collaborator?
I’m trying to get Travis Barker to play drums on a track for my new album and I’d like to do a song with Wiz Khalifa. I’ve just done a song with Juicy J from Three 6 Mafia which we just put out, I’m about to do some work with Mackenzie Eddy who’s from New York and I’ve been a big fan of hers for a long time. She reached out so now we’re gonna work together which I’m very excited about. In terms of a dream collaboration? I say Kanye all the time because I’m the biggest Kanye West fan ever, no matter what he does I’m loyal as a fan. If I did a song with Kanye whether it was a verse, hook or even a beat I’ll know that I’ve kind of made it and I can check that one off my list.
You’re obviously a fan of tattoos, how many have you got? Any plans for more?
I don’t know the actual number of tattoos that I’ve got but I’d say I’ve got at least 50 or 60 percent of my body tattooed and I’m still going strong. I’ve got to finish my right arm and fill in my chest and my entire stomach is outlined so I’ve just got to finish colouring that in. My back is actually going to be the last thing that I tattoo, I want to be 50 when I get my back done.
How much money do you think you’ve spent on getting your body tattooed?
Probably too f***ing much, when I started getting tattoos I was having to pay for the sessions but then you spend so much time with your tattoo artist because you’re there for around 8 hours at a time you get quite close with the person who is tattooing you. So as that relationship develops you kind of get hooked up, so I got my hands and knuckles tattooed for free so it kind of evens itself out.
Which artists are you tipping for big things in 2012?
Lana Del Rey is doing really well; I was a fan of hers last year before a lot of people knew who she was and now she’s blown up. It’s the same with Childish Gambino, I was on his mixtape and then his album came out which I think sold 50,000 copies in its first week which was great.
What does T. Mills have in store for 2012?
I’m putting out a mixtape which was meant to come out on the 1st of this year but we’re going to take some more time with it just because touring and stuff has gotten so amped because I’ve added a lot more dates, I’m going to be on tour for about 8 months out of this year which is insane. When I get back from Europe we’re going to be doing some radio promo and some Summer Jam festivals for all the radio stations. Then I’m going to Canada for two weeks for Canadian Music Week and I’m doing the Vans Warped Tour which is this summer which is around 60 different dates. I’m also going to Asia in September and then I’m doing my US tour which I’m headlining. I’m dropping an EP before the summer ends and then after the Vans Warped tour my full length album on Columbia will be released.