Photo Credit: 335MM
By Stephanie Amy Collazo
Travis Tatum Mills, better known by his stage name T. Mills, is an up-and-coming artist on the music scene. Having taken part in both the Bamboozle Festival and Warped Tour, Mills is quickly making a name for himself. Though he recently released his Leaving Home mixtape, there are plans to release a second mixtape before the end of the year. While in New York for the start of his East Coast tour, T. Mills stopped by YRB to talk to us about future plans and his recent signing with Columbia Records.
YRB: What inspires your music?
Mills: I think a lot of different things inspire my music. I inspire my music, art, everything around me, weed, music I’m currently listening to, fashion, I think everything is inspirational; you can draw inspiration from anything. I could look at a little kid in a park and think of some crazy shit and I can look at your magazine and you now see something I like and turn it into words, or I can be on the internet and read a blog and that will drive me to go write a certain song. I think life is inspiration, as cliché as that might sound.
YRB: Would you say you owe a lot of your fame to social networking sites?
Mills: Definitely, the first year I even had my project that’s all I did. I spent at least eight hours on the computer and I’d just talk to all my fans, I still try to do that today but it’s just a lot harder because there’s a lot more and I’ve grown. I feel like it’s definitely crucial and it gave me a good platform for kids to really get to see what I was about and get to know me as a person. That’s why I feel like my fans are so crazy you know.
YRB: How would you describe your music style to someone that has never heard it before?
Mills: It’s a lot of different things. There are elements of rock, rap, R&B, pop, electronica, dance; I think I come from a playlist generation so it’s eclectic and I draw inspiration from everywhere that you just kind of have to listen. It’s just a little bit of everything.
YRB: How did you score your deal with Columbia Records?
Mills: A lot of hard work, patience and it took a lot of time, but pretty much I put out this music video last year while I was on tour and it got 90,000 views in a day. Then we just started getting calls from labels and we took a lot of meetings. I felt like Columbia just made the most sense for me. I looked at their roster, I looked at what they did, I looked at the people that wanted to sign me and I really respected them. I knew that Columbia wasn’t a cheap label; they’re not just going for [artists to make] radio singles they’re taking time and we’re building a career with them. I guess I kind of just got lucky with a video and the weird thing is I didn’t want that video to come out and Uprising Records put it out without my consent. I saw it on TV for the first time, it was on Fuse TV he first day it went up, and so it was like a blessing in disguise.
YRB: What was it like being on Warped Tour?
Mills: It’s hot as fuck; it was a lot of fun though. I had like five songs to my name so it was a lot of hustling for me because I wasn’t established. I had my little core fan base so it was cool playing for them and I got to meet all of them. It was just a lot of grinding. It was me burning a thousand blank CDs of my EP on my bus every morning, signing them and then going out and selling them for five bucks. [I was] setting up my own merch table, selling my own merch, setting up my own equipment and just playing by myself, but it was like one of the best summers of my life.
YRB: How have fans reacted to your mixtape Leaving Home?
Mills: The reactions been amazing! I just played my first two shows this week since I put it out. I was just surprised by how many kids knew it. Just the amount of downloads we got in the first weekend was crazy. It was my first time trending on twitter, Leaving Home was trending the night we put it out. I feel like everything that I wanted to accomplish with Leaving Home I have and it’s only going to get better. It inspires me to go even harder with my next body of work.
YRB: Will you be dropping a full-length album any time soon?
Mills: Yes, 2012 somewhere around like May, but I don’t want to say anything too cement, but around May we will drop my first official Columbia full length, my first official major label release.
YRB: Do you have any tours coming up?
Mills: We have this East Coast run it starts tomorrow so it’s New York, Washington, Boston, Philly and then I have a college tour in September which is L.A., Sacramento, Las Vegas, Arizona, Irvine and we are filling in the rest of those dates. Then I go to Europe in November, we’re playing two dates in England, Paris, Berlin, Cologne and Amsterdam.
YRB: Who would you love to collaborate with?
Mills: I’ve got three. [First,] Kanye, I’m the biggest Kanye super fan ever, he can do no wrong in my eyes. Also McKenzie Eddy, she’s amazing, she just put out a new album too. Then there’s Theophilus London, I really want to work with him, I love Theophilius, he’s so swag.
YRB: You are in NYC for the next two days what are you plans?
Mills: To be honest, work. I’ve got like four interviews today, a photo shoot and then something else. But I flew my parents into New York which is actually cool because it’s the first time I’ve gotten to actually take them a vacation, you know when I was like a teenager they would take me on vacation so it’s the first time that I got to make sure that they were taken care of, so I’m going to have dinner with my parents tonight. I play tomorrow, tomorrow I have like 15 interviews and then I’m going to smoke some weed and kind of just hangout.
YRB: Are you working on any new projects?
Mills: Yes, I’m working on a mixtape right now; I’m trying to get it out before the end of the year.
YRB: What’s next?
Mills: Touring, just a lot of shows. We’re doing like a video a month for Leaving Home. I have a video coming out for “LA Down,” which should be out within two weeks. We’re doing a video a month for the album. I’ve got a bunch of free music that I’m putting out, so there are just songs that I will just be releasing. I have some features that didn’t make Leaving Home, I have a song out with Juicy J, I have a song with Audio Push [and] I’ve got a song with Rusko. I just want to stay hella busy, stay relevant.