One of ATL’s brightest new stars by way of Queens, NY is a budding young engineer/producer who simply goes by Millz. Only 24 years old, Millz has already engineered Young Dro’s High Times album which charted on Billboard along with projects for Young Dro, Rich Homie Quan, Ti and Kevin Gates. He received RIAA platinum certification for engineering, mixing and producing on Gates’ Islah album and another platinum award for his work with The Suicide Squad.
We caught up with Millz in the studio and he was kind enough to share his thoughts on life, music the secret to making a life in music.
So how did you get started in the business?
I remember when I was in like kindergarten. I was in New York. I'm from Queens but I was living in Brooklyn and I was going to this school. And like when you get to school in the morning you could either go to breakfast or you can go to the piano classes. And I would go to the piano classes.
"And I remember Christmas, I begged my mom for a piano and she got me a piano."
Later on in high school I saw the movie Drumline and I got infatuated with drums. So I got put in a band class and started playing drums and there was a kid in my band class who made beats. At the time I had heard of Fruity Loops. I started to make beats so every day I'd go home make a beat. Then we’d come to battle each other and just play like who be better. At the time he was way better than me. I was just starting out so like it just gave me the hunger like every day keep making stuff, keep making stuff. So that’s how I got really into production.
"I knew I loved the music but I was trying to figure out an interesting way to get into the business as a producer. I learned real fast that just emailing beats to people didn't work."
I found out most people go get internships. I was introduced to a guy named Big Zar. At first it was like he wasn't really too welcoming. I think he wanted to see how bad I wanted this. I would send him beats every three, four days. They sucked but he was just like ‘keep sending stuff ,keep sending stuff.’ So one day he invited me to a studio. It was FKI studio so I got to meet them.
"This was my first time in a real studio. And I'm seeing people making a real record and I'm like ‘This is a hit record. I want to do this.’ I came for like a week every day."
After that I started sleeping in the vocal booth. So I am here recording 17 hours a day. I’d go off and then go to sleep, wake up and get right back to work every day. It's just crazy because at first I didn't even want to be an engineer. I didn't even know what it was or anything about studio equipment. Then I found out the studio needed a website so I made them a website. I was just trying to find a way to make people want to use me and keep around. Like nobody wants to be just an intern.
"I tried not to say too much but if someone asked a question and I knew the answer I would say it."
So once that happened they kind of like kid, this is Fred Marshall from FKI. He could see I was paying attention to stuff so he sat me down and gave me like the whole scene and I guess I absorbed everything in one sitting.
And from then on it was like I was working and getting everything done and it was like I thought everybody worked the same way. But after that I realized all the work with me and my Young Dro was like the first guy and I'm like he probably worked with all these big name people and he wanted me to record his music. So at that point I knew I had I could hang with the big dogs I guess. And then from there, me and Rich we mixed Dro’s whole album and like within a year with me as an engineer I had my first album credits. So that was pretty much the whole start for sure.
So how do you use the studio as your musical instrument?
It’s like different for me because I engineer and produce. Right now I'm probably more Engineer heavy. So I come in one day with an engineer hat on. Well I'm just trying to hear the sonic aspect. I hear the songs and make everything mesh and glue and be as cold as possible. I just try to take sounds and manipulate them to where people like it. I don't know the theory and all that. I just know that when you put the right sounds together you make people happy. It's like everything in the studio, not just the instruments, the walls everything is like the instrument. It's like a paintbrush, it's like your whole canvas. It’s like whatever you can find in the house.
How has the Eyeball changed your workflow?
"The Eyeball is something I've wanted my whole life that I didn't even know I wanted until it showed up. It felt like it was made for me, like the music gods definitely answered my prayers."
I was on a road with Kevin gates. I was his engineer and we used to record a lot in hotel rooms, the Green room, pretty much wherever that bus stopped. We always had to bring all the studio stuff with us. We put together a portable recording studio. I had eight bags of stuff. So then when I finally seen this thing come out and I was like I could throw that in my book bag. It's my mobile vocal booth. It's just like perfect for what's going on nowadays where you know everybody's not in the main studio. You don't need a main studio anymore you know. This Kaotica Eyeball right here makes my job easier because it's like hard to try to fix things later that were badly recorded. Like having a virtual vocal booth. The Eyeball keeps everything under control even in environments where it's not meant for recording. I was like, a game changer, like a Swiss army knife you've got to have.
What advice would you give to young people out there trying to get their producer game on?
As far as advice I can give to younger people it sounds cliché but you can achieve everything you want but first you got to believe in yourself. That's number one. You've got to put a plan together if you want to be a producer. And learn.
"I figured out that engineers press play in a room and they controlled everything so I became an engineer to play my own beats. That's exactly what I did and it probably happened exactly the way I wanted."
But all my placements came from me engineering and playing a beat when it's the right time and I end up getting a platinum record using that same method. You've got to find your plan and execute. I'm saying don't stop. If you take the right steps you can't lose.