In The Studio With…..MiLS

Whats up everybody! Here we are back again as promised with yet ANOTHER “In The Studio With”….
This one is kinda special for me personally, cause this cat that we are about to hop “In the Studio” with..basically inspired me and helped me to start making hiphop Back in 1999/2000. He is known by many as “Mils” or “J-Slim” (If you wanna get old school with it). Justin Knight a.k.a MiLs hails from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Canada) And Was the Founding Father/Producer/Beat maker behind the “Innersoulflow” Crew. The crew Consisted of Mils, Eekwol, Mass, Suga D, Fatty Down & Lucas along with a few other “Extended Family” Members. Mils Has always inspired me with his music abilities, He has a ear for good music and also does Studio Production for other Artists aside from working on his own music. I could type a whole lot more but instead, Lets just jump “In The Studio With”… Mils!

QCM: State your name, How long you’ve been producing music and who you have produced music for…

Mils: My name is Mils and I’ve been making beats since 1997. My first crew was called the Creation Crew and it was me Suga D, and Sirender. That was my first venture into making songs on a four track with a drum machine and a synth, as well as rapping. We all worked on the beats back then. Over the next year our crew expanded into the Innersoulflow Crew/The Frequent Flyers that’s when Mass, and Lucas joined up and started rapping. About a year and a half after, my sister Eekwol started rapping and joined the crew, lastly SugaD’s bro from BC joined up and brought a whole other level of rapping to the table! He goes by the name of Fatty Down. I produced all the ISF albums and the Frequent Flyers one.
After that I produced tracks for Luckyiam, Scarub, CMA (Luckyiam and The Grouch), Pigeon John , of DEAD PREZ, The Grouch, Fatty Down, Paul Barman, Langdon Auger, Kay the Aquanat, Manik1derful, Big Dro, Kool Aid or I mean HellnBack, Eekwol, and more!…

QCM: No doubt. That’s a nice list of artists! So What do you got Kicking around the Studio these days Equipment wise??…And whats your “weapon of choice” for beat making.

Mils: I have a big ass computer, my “Secret Weapon” is FL Studio, I’ve been down with that ish since it was Fruity Loops 1 !!! It got a lot of flack because of the name but man they’ve only gotten better and better with their sampling, sequencing, and VST processors. They also got this thing called the Edison which is better than Cool Edit for simple sample trimming and all that goes with editing a small wave or aiff. I also have a synth that is also a midi controller via USB 3 to control my samples and play all the crazy vst instruments that are coming out, I swear I have a baby grand piano, its just inside my computer… I love technology, everything that used to take ages to do can now be done all in the box or ITB, which saves time so you can spend more time being creative. I also rock a nice electric Fender Strat guitar, a set of drums, bass guitar, and acoustic. I have some outboard gear that is nice, classA compressor eq limiter which is my crown jewel, excellent for vocals. I make my instrumentals in FL, and I record in Pro Tools. Im not really into naming off all my name brand shit, because what it all boils down too is whos making the beats and not the equipment. A carpenter never blames his tools.

QCM: No Doubt. There’s so many tools these days! What’s your take on the State of Recording and the Bedroom Studio Vs The Big Name Studio , and where do you do most of your work?

Mils: I’m thinking the bedroom studios are where it’s at. Times have changed, you no longer need a big bankroll to produce quality music but you still need talent and an ear for music. It’s kind of a double edged sword because on the one hand it’s more about talent than money, but it also opens the door to anybody who wants to try making songs so the amount of “new” artists out there is phenomenal so there is way more sub par stuff to filter through to find good music. When you used to have to get into a big studio to record it was an investment and you’d have to have something good to make that investment or get an investment from a label so most of the time so there was quality control, now there’s no real quality control (except for Aries studio).

QCM: Hahaha. Do you play any Instruments or have any Musical background/schooling aside from hip-hop and beat making?

Mils: Yes, I love playing live instruments and jamming with other musicians no matter the genre. Although I have no musical schooling.

QCM: What do you think about the Hardware Vs Software debate with music production? Do you use 1 or the other, or both?

Mils: I think it’s a pointless debate because it’s all software and computers when it comes down to it. An mpc is really just a computer loaded with sampling/sequencing software, you just can’t surf the net with it. A computer is just a computer that you can load the same type of sequencing/sampling software with. But I can feel for the guy who spent a couple grand on a piece of hardware and makes beats then he sees some 16 year old kid who downloaded a pirated copy of software that does the same thing onto his moms computer and is bringing crazy heat and ends up on a Rick Ross record lol.

QCM: Yup, it Happens! Everyone has these capabilities now. Sampling and Record Digging is a big part of Hip-hop music…Do you look for any certain artists when looking for that next sample?? And do you agree with sampling other sources aside from vinyl?

Mils: I do a bit of digging and yes I do keep my eye out for certain artists (but who they are is my secret!), but also I love finding foreign stuff or just weird records that have interesting covers its always exciting to just grab something not knowing what it will sound like and then getting back to the lab and dropping the needle to hear a fricken amazing sample. That’s rare tho. I’m no purist by any means when it comes to sampling, It seems like digging just became a trend for awhile. I like sampling tapes, movies, mp3’s, and esp live instruments. I think it’s limiting to just confine yourself to vinyl only. I even heard a beat mad from someone sampling a fart, that was pretty gross but damn I wrote a good song to it JK!
Really tho, If you only sample from vinyl, I think its limiting yourself to one thing while there are so many different colors to paint with. It’s like being an artist and only working with 2 colors, when you have access to 20 other colors, the production could start to sound repetitive, or cooking with only 2 main ingredient
and 2 different seasonings, while you could have endless ingredients and seasonings…. Just my humble little opinion.

QCM: Fair enough! I like to stick to only vinyl these days.. but i started out by sampling a dvd player into the Mpc!
Have you ever sampled something that you thought was untouched, then heard it used by others after the fact?

Mils: Yes! That’s gotta be one of the worst feelings. I flipped a sample for the Grouch and Luckyiam for this song called the Immigrant that they released on CMA 2 “Overall”, and about 6 months after it dropped I saw a new vid on much music with the same damn sample on it! I was like, no fricken way man, this aint happening… I freaked it way better tho I think.

QCM: Walk us through your beat making process from start to finish…(Drums first? Sample first?) Also, feel free to share any certain techniques you use along the way…

Mils: I love working with live players, bass, and guitar especially. And I just let them jam and then when I hear something tight I’ll sample it. Or else I’ll noodle on the guitar or synth or start with a sample. Its always melody that I begin with, then some drums, then if it calls for it I’ll bring in a live bass player to play bass thru the whole thing, it adds a life to it that I’ve always loved since I first heard Organized Noize (Outkast’s Production Team) do, adding live playing mixed perfectly with samples and electronic sounds. So that’s my thing. Maybe every 1 out of 10 beats I’ll have a nice drum pattern that I’ve thought of in my head then I’ll lay it down and see where it takes me, but mostly the melody has to inspire the drums IMO. Even just a real strange sound will be the inspiration for a beat.
I also eq as I go, maybe add a little compression. The rest is adding the secret Mils Sauce.

QCM: Is that like the Mcdonalds secret sauce? err.. never mind LOL. Do you ever go through “Beat-Block” (like Writers Block) and how do you overcome it….

Mils: Sometimes I do and I have a little process that always helps me get going again. Vanilla Ice taught me this…. “STOP, collaborate and listen” then Mils will be back with a brand new addition, jk. Seriously tho, it makes sense if u think about it! I “Stop” and just chill cause I might be burnt out and need to recoup and sooner or later an idea will pop. Or its always good to collaborate with another musician because then I start bouncing around ideas and get really stimulated and make something different than what I would have made on my own. Lastly, I just “listen” to other music, new hip hop releases, and non hip hop music and again, its inspiring, in no time I’m back behind the boards generating heat!

QCM: You realize I’ve got you on record quoting Vanilla Ice now? hahaha. What do you think about Beat Makers calling themselves Producers? Is there a difference? And if you think there is, what are the differences?

Mils: “Attention everyone! I am a Beat maker”…. Beat maker just doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as PRODUCER! If your getting placed on albums I always get production credit, produced by…..
But to split hairs here, if u just make beats and somebody raps over them without you being there then really you are just a Beat Maker. On the other hand if you are there for the recording and your giving feedback and suggestions then you’re fully producing the song. Saying “hey maybe we need a bridge here” or “try saying it like this” or as with me and PSC, “Just do this fricken shit right or I’m leaving” lol jk. A real experienced Rapper will always be open to suggestion cause they know two heads are better than one.
Pigeon Johnny was also tight for letting me really produce “Upsidedown rotten” and then he suggested something for the chorus part of the beat, and asked me how I got this sound and whatever, that was really cool and humble of him. I’m never scared of asking other artists how they do this n that and ninety nine percent of the time they’ll be happy to share. Hey I’m getting off topic here.

QCM: Who do you look up too on the Beat Making / Production tip?

Mils: Umm man this could fill up 10 pages but I’ll name a few who really inspire me.
Organized Noize, Andre 3000, Eligh, Moka, Rza, Sapient is sick, my cousin Gas, Dr. Dre has been one of my favorites since the beginning of MILS, the Beastie Boys, friends like ARIES always inspire, Timbaland, Mumbles when he did Aceyalone’s “The Book of Human Language” One of the sickest albums for production, rapping…A classic. There are tons more and I’ve learned something from each n every on of them.

Lucas, Sirender, JOP, Mass, Aries & Mils

QCM: Any last words of advice for the young aspiring beat makers out there reading this?

Mils: Be original! If you start making knock off Eligh beats somebody will pull your card, and if the new Eligh was to come out with your new album featuring Eligh knock offs, which album are the kids going to buy or download? Eligh! This is even more important with rappers, if you flow like Eminem and his album drops and so does yours, Eminem fans aren’t going to be happy with a kid who can flow like Eminem, which album are they going to spend their hard earned money on? You guessed it!
Be original, its cool to draw from you favorite producers, but make your own style! Don’t be afraid to be original; don’t be scared of someone saying “This shit sounds too weird man! I’m scared to flow over it!” But to tell you the truth, I’ve always tried to have my own style and bring something to bigger artists that they never heard before, and sure enough that got my foot in the door in the LA underground
scene of the late 90’s early 2000’s and people noticed! Oh yeah, did I mention, BE ORIGINAL!

QCM: Where can we check out your work online??….


QCM: Word up! Thanks for dropping by! All the best with your future endeavors!


One Response to “In The Studio With…..MiLS”

  1. Soonyow Says:

    niiice. this guy’s cool.

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