So I was at the show in San Francisco on Friday. I was impressed. You are extremely energetic. You don’t really have any kind of gimmick. What is your mindset when getting ready to do a show?
Ummmm…damn, I don’t know, man! I guess, for me, it’s all about the songs. What songs I want to play, what I think people want to hear. This tour has been primarily about the EP. Getting out there and showing it to people! And I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that. It just came out yesterday (note: this interview was conducted back in February). It’s been a fun week so far. San Francisco is only our third show on the tour so far. I feel like it just keeps getting better, man. You get used to it. We didn’t bring a huge production this tour. We did that last tour. I feel like this tour was, like, definitely more raw, man. It was how we used to do things, and I really like it. I didn’t really want some big, like, elaborate, stage gimmick, you know? I wanted it to be about the music, and having people come out and having a good time. I feel like, you know, if I can have a great show with nothing, that’s really the test. How good is the show stripped down with nothing, you know? Like you said. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been fun to do that every single night. It takes you out of your element, and out of your comfort zone.
I listened to some of the lyrics as well. Some of them were a little more serious, while others were more tongue-in-cheek. What is the process like for you when it comes to writing tongue-in-cheek lyrics (songs like Vans On, for example)?
Aw that shit’s just fun, man! It’s just me not really giving a fuck, you know? It’s kinda just having a good time, and thinking of funny, clever shit. But really, I don’t have one kind of formula. I feel like the inspiration just comes out of nowhere, sometimes. I try to capture it whenever I can.
But yeah! I feel like every situation’s unique. You work with producers, you know, and everyone has a different system of working. I might hear a beat that I’ve had for months, or I’ll have a song and melody ideas in my head, or I might just hear a beat the first time, and come up with something right off the spot though. It’s really unique to who I’m working with in the situation. Every time is different.
The “All I Wanna Do” EP comes out Tuesday! Where does the title come from, for starters?
Well the title track is called “All I Wanna Do”, it’s the first single off the EP. The first song is about, literally, to quote it, literally having a good time and doing whatever the fuck you want. I wanted to have a really fun, summer song that empowered people, and made them feel happy. You know what I mean? I didn’t want to do it in, like, a sexual way, or a tongue-in-cheek way. I wanted to be very feel-good, very summer. The soundtrack to peoples’ spring break and summer. I felt like I accomplished that with that record. Like, everyone who hears it, you can’t help but, like, smile when it comes on. I think we did a pretty good job.
What was the process like creating the songs on this EP in comparison to anything you’re previously put out, like the “Ready, Fire, Aim!” album, or the EPs like “Leaving Home” and “Finders Keepers”?
Well, “Ready, Fire, Aim” was my first time in the studio. I was finding myself, so I was testing a lot of things. I feel like, um, it hasn’t really changed much. I’ll go into the studio, and we try things. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and you take what works, and you mold it until you see fit. It’s kind of been the same thing. I didn’t, like, record all these songs at once. I’ve had one of the songs in there for like a year and a half. I’ve had “All I Wanna Do” for a year, but I didn’t wanna put it out last year because we were going into winter, and I didn’t feel like it was the right time for the song. It was just, like, a lot of patience. There was a lot of planning, and I was so happy that it was finally time for everyone to hear the new music, you know?
You’ve got your major label debut coming out later this year. What can fans expect from this album?
I feel like the EP is really upbeat and really pop. I feel like the album is going to be like a “Complete My Album”. Some of the songs on there are a lot slower, a little sexual, a little sexier. They’ve got a soulful, electronic, R&B vibe. But I’m excited, man. I’ve been recording on this tour, like on the bus and stuff, and we’ve got some cool shit. When I go back home, we’re gonna be recording some more. I’ve got a bunch of songs.
I’m excited. We’re on the road for two months, and I’m sure that I’ll have a bunch of ideas out here. It’s really different when you go play shows, and see what people feed off of, and the energy and stuff. And then you take it into the studio, and transfer it.
You’re currently out on the “All I Wanna Do” tour in promotion of the EP. You’ve got Blackbear out with you as well, also a great act. What do you look for in opening acts when setting up the bill for a headlining tour like this?
Blackbear’s just been, like, my homie, man! We’ve done a lot of music together. We just vibe. I was like, “Yo, come out.” I have Mod Sun coming out, too. He joins the tour in Denver. And we’ve been friends for like, four or five years. This tour has very much been about friends and keeping them close, and just doing our own thing. And I didn’t want a big package, where I didn’t know their [the other acts’] music, and I didn’t care about. It was very organic and very close to home with this tour.
Those usually make for the best kinds of tours.
Yeah! It wasn’t like “we want this opening band so that we can sell the most tickets”. It was more like it was just me and my homies, you know?
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Oh man! (laughs) I want people feel empowered, man, like they can do it too. If I could do this shit, if I could start it in my bedroom and turn it into national and international tours, you definitely can too.
What does music mean to you?
Shit, music is my life, man. It’s how I eat, it’s how I live, it’s how I support myself, it’s how I express myself, it’s the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing. I get to wake up everyday and play music. Music is everything to me. I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else, really. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I don’t want to have a job that I hate, and I don’t consider this a job, so I’m very blessed.
What are the future plans for T. Mills?
Oh yeah, man! We’ve got the “All I Wanna Do” music video about to come out. I’ve got a remix of “All I Wanna Do” that I can’t say too much about. We’ve got the album and we’re gonna be on the road a lot this year. Really, we’re just focused on the EP. We’re going to put out visuals for the songs. We’ve got the album coming later, and just touring, man. Just working!
This has been another shameless promotion.