Austin Millz’s infectious fusion of house, soul, alt-electro and pop has attracted the attention of industry figureheads such as Sean C, along with millions of global listeners. For his latest EP, Midas, the Harlem-born producer enlisted a selection of renowned artists, including Teedra Moses, BJ The Chicago Kid, Abhi The Nomad, and UK vocalist Aluna. Released on 1 October, some of the EP’s tracks have already found their way onto the hottest Spotify playlists, and are sure to continue gaining traction as he prepares for a Las Vegas residency at the Virgin Hotel.
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Amidst the excitement of his new EP launch, Millz took some time to show us his home studio, where he crafts his signature ‘Millz Bounce’ sound. He talks us through his favourite gear, explaining why the SP-404 and Maschine are vital tools in his workflow, and why he doesn’t believe in mistakes.
Hey Austin! We’re digging your tracks and the ‘Millz Bounce’ sound. What producers and styles have influenced your sound?
Thank you, I’m glad you like the bounce! Quincy Jones, Just Blaze, The Neptunes, J Dilla, and The Heatmakerz are some of the producers and styles that have influenced my sound.
Are there any instruments or gear that you think have been imperative to your sound?
The Native Instruments Maschine and Roland SP-404 are integral to my workflow. They help me create an analogue feel. I’m producing in the box mostly, though. I’m into a lot of different plug-ins, synths and sound selection.
Tell us a bit about the studio.
I had a music studio in the heart of Hollywood, Los Angeles, but I just relocated. When it comes to a studio, I need a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing place with good vibes and a chill ambience.
How do you use your studio?
My studio is what I use to create the foundation of my music. That’s where the beats are created. When it comes to cutting vocals, I have other studio locations that I use to record artists.
What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio?
I try to create an inspiring and positive environment. A place where artists can come and be open with their thoughts and ideas.
Which DAW do you use?
I use Ableton Live – there’s nothing like it. The way you can manipulate audio with the warping feature, and the amount of user-friendly features make it my go-to.
What is your favourite piece of gear?
My favourite piece of gear is definitely my Maschine. It gives me the vintage feel of the MPC, and it allows me to create drum patterns with a natural, unquantised feel. There’s also sounds in the Maschine that are great; the whole device is like no other.
What synth or effect can be heard the most on the album’s single Gold?
There’s a brass sound that’s a stand out on Gold, and that keeps the flow of the track. It was a sound from Omnisphere; I love the richness, warmth and body of brass sounds. It’s delicate yet powerful.
You’ve said it was a “dream come true” to work with Aluna and Tiara Thomas on Gold. What was the experience like?
It was truly a blessing to work with Aluna and Tiara Thomas on Gold. These are two artists that I truly admire. We had an amazing studio session in which we each bounced ideas off each other, and the vibes just flowed.
You’ve also worked with Teedra Moses recently – what was that like?
It was a great experience working with Teedra Moses. I just put out a tweet that she caught wind of, and that’s how the initial pairing happened. The beat came first; I sent her a beat pack, and she put her greatness to it.
Are there any other artists you’re aspiring to work with at the moment? Who are you listening to right now that you’d love to jam with?
Sault, Jungle, and Jayda G. They each bring something different, and they have distinctive sounds that I can relate to.
What is next on your shopping list studio-wise and why?
I’ll be adding a guitar soon to my studio list. The goal is to learn it and add it to my arsenal.
What is your dream piece of gear?
A Roland Juno-106. I love the warm 80s sound, and I want to start collecting more vintage analogue gear.
If we left you on a desert island, what one item would you take with you to make music with forever?
My Maschine. I can’t go anywhere without it.
What is your top piece of production advice?
There’s no such thing as a mistake. Music is an art, and unique imagination is a gift.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
You don’t have to start out with expensive equipment. The pricier an item is doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Do your research and buy what makes sense for you – you can always expand. You can do a lot with very little.
Can you tell us anything about your new EP, Midas?
Midas is out now! It was conceptualised by the thought of everything I touch in music turning into gold, adding my Midas touch like King Midas of Greek mythology. I do a lot of remixes and turn the original music into my own gold. I’m very excited to see how people react to the music, and I hope people enjoy it!