Last week I reviewed American artists Ray Mitchell & Milli Millz latest release and super hooky hip-hop track ‘Nah Do’.
It was great to get the chance to catch up with Producer Ray and find out more about his musical journey, how the pandemic has affected his music making and life in general plus more about his latest and upcoming releases and plans for the future.
Continue reading below to find out more:
YMX: Hey Ray, thanks for talking to us. How have these gloomy times been treating you?
Ray Mitchell: Actually these gloomy times, I’m not gonna lie the first few months of the pandemic I was freaking out. Wanted to get out of the country, started thinking the world was going to come to an end, and I was really depressed. I hadn’t been without work since I was like 15, it was so weird and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I started getting just wasted and was fucked up for like two months straight. Then I had gotten sick (not from covid) I was throwing up like crazy for almost 2 weeks. My body I think just had enough and was literally expelling everything from my system. I thought I was going to die, I’d lost about 20lbs after it was all said and done. So I said ok this shit isn’t working. It pretty much woke my ass up and made me realize how short and precious life really is. So I started getting healthy doing HIIT workouts at the house and playing tennis. I lost another 20lbs just eating correctly and working out and not drinking alcohol. The pandemic made me stop procrastinating and realize, that my perfectionist tendencies were just another obstacle in my story. My songs will never be exactly perfect, but I can live with giving it my best and actually putting something out there.
YMX: How did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue? Are there any particular episodes that inspired you in doing so?
Ray: Well, I used to DJ, for a long time, still love to rock a party when I can. So I was pretty young when I started going to underground raves and I saw a DJ playing (don’t remember his name now). The way that he was able to move the entire party through the highs and lows of emotions was magnificent. He was telling a story to the people and he knew exactly how to make the people feel what he was playing. Could have been the disco biscuits I’m sure that had added to my heightened senses lol, but that is when I knew that I wanted to move people with music.
YMX: Here’s a fun game: name 3 artists, or bands, that inspire you and influence your work, and explain why:
Ray: artists are hard because I like so many styles of music and I am inspired everyday by new music. But if I had to only name 3, Dr. Dre would definitely be my first inspiration. I love how he blends elements of classical music with hip hop. I love that west coast sound. I am also really digging the revamp of disco, so Ian Kirkpatrick is another great producer. I love how he is bringing back the disco, and 80’s sounds and revamping them to sound new. I used to DJ funky house and breakbeats and I love taking old genres and blending them with the new. Illmind is another producer that inspires me. He utilizes sound design to create his own sounds that aren’t used by anyone else. He also tries to outdo himself every time when making a new song and that’s exactly what I try to do with my music.
YMX: You recently released ‘Nah Do’. Can you tell us how that project came about?
Ray: I found a little snippet of a middle eastern-influenced vocal and I chopped it up. The “Nah Do” vox, sounded like she was saying “Nah Do”, and I thought that meant “you know how I do”, and then we just made it our saying and it worked. I made the instruments based on that as being the main piece. Then I sent the instrumental track to my brother (Mili Milz) and he wrote down the first verse. He then went to Cals and spit his verse to him, he said it was dope, so they recorded the verse. Then Cals came up with the first part of the chorus, “all day on the boulevard trynna get my paper up, these motha fuckaz ballar blockin”. Next Milz matched the rhythm and altered the wordplay, to come up with, “all night on the boulevard gotta get my fetty up, got them hataz watchin”. Then Cals said, “nah do” and said it would sound good if Mili Milz said “my ni***”. That’s how the hook was made. Milz then wrote the second verse and the song was done.
YMX:How did the pandemic affect your personal music recording experience? Was it easy adjusting to working remotely?
Ray: Yes, I think if anything it made me buckle down and just get to work. I have a studio in my house, so it made it easier to get more work done. Before the pandemic, I traveled around the US doing A/V for very large-scale conventions, and movie premieres. Most of the year I wasn’t home because I would be traveling so much. I think in 2019 I traveled like 110,000 miles on American airlines lol (my frequent flyer miles were amazing). Traveling so much left me no time to actually work on my real passion and pursuit of happiness.
YMX: Professional live-streams seem to be really taking over these days. Is it something you would consider doing?
Ray: Oh definitely, I would for sure do live streams. As I was saying before that I did A/V, all the events we used to do live, have now transitioned to virtual events for the time being. So yes since my job that puts food on the table does high-end streaming, I am ready with a production team to put on a big show. If this continues to be the “norm” it’s only a matter of time before I get together with the artists I work with and do something big.
YMX: Since pandemic began, online music promotion has become crucial for an artist’s growth. How important is that for you, and are there any strategies you are willing to share with our readers?
YMX: It’s extremely important, most if not all of an artist’s revenue is coming from online promotion. For most of 2020, nobody could even put on a concert. As far as strategies, I can’t give specific strategies but I can give a couple of pieces of advice that will help them. My main word of advice for any artist to grow, you really need to find a team. I tried doing all the promoting and everything myself and have now just begun to get my team together. It has really helped me exponentially, so I could focus more on the creative side. My team is still not complete I got a ways to go, but I’m headed in the right direction. Another thing I can share is if you want to actually grow, you need to start thinking of your craft as a business. If you don’t treat it like a business, then you will not get people to invest in you.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
As far as releases, I am trying to do one every month. I just released another track called “My Friend” with Mili Milz on the vocals as well. It’s about our other brother that passed away 3 years ago, it’s got a trap-type drum beat with a piano melody. I actually came up with the melody after waking up from a dream with my deceased brother in it. Then I am currently mastering another song called “Mind and Body” with Disanti on the vocals. It’s got a Bryson Tiller R&B type vibe, that will be a great spring/summer track. Then I am also co-writing a Reggaetón track with another producer from Colombia named Cuz Zaid. Plus many more in the works so be on the lookout for all kinds of new music.
Well we can’t wait to hear Ray!
Listen to Ray Mitchell ft Mili Millz & Cals ‘Nah Do’ here: