PREMIERE: Stream Austin Millz “Cyclone” EP
Harlem-born producer works the "gray area" between dance music and hip hop.
After producing tracks for the likes of Jim Jones, Wale, Hit-Boy, and Shy Glizzy, Harlem DJ/producer Austin Millz inked a deal with Fools Gold Records to release his own material. Working the “gray area” between dance music and hip hop, and featuring collaborations with Tunji Ige, Ye Ali, and Sessi. Millz new EP Cyclone drops today, and you can stream it now exclusively on Mass Appeal.
Why did you choose the title Cyclone for your new EP?
I was trying to define my sound, and trying to figure out what direction I wanted to go. The name Cyclone just came up to my head, because my sound at the moment, and my sound for the past year… My style is disruptive—just like a cyclone. But it still goes different directions. The track is so hard when you hear it, with the drop, it goes everywhere but it’s still that one… It hits you in the middle. It just goes in different directions and hits you in the middle. That’s how I see my sound. It’s not in a black-white zone. It’s really a gray area. And that’s how I like my sound, a mixture of hip hop and dance music. I feel like I’m right in that middle area.
What exactly do you mean by “disruptive”? That’s kind of a buzzword right now so I want to make sure we’re clear.
I would just say there’s a lot of different genres of music right now. And I just feel like mine… I like my drums hitting hard. I just like it aggressive. I like to play out for the crowds, whether it’s remixes or edits, I like to just play it out. So I wanna play it, and when I play I look in the listeners’ face and the audience’s face for that scrunch face. That’s what I want to see.
Are you breaking rules, in a sense?
Absolutely. You know, cause even the track “Cyclone” it’s not a general, ordinary sequence of a track. Especially like the intro sounds totally different than what the drop sounds like. And then even like me getting Tunji on it, to rap and harmonize on the intro, and then when the beat comes in… It’s just not an ordinary rap song and it’s not an ordinary dance track. So I just like to go out the box when I make a track.
How did you choose the artists who are featured on the project?
I had all the beats already done and I just wanted the right mixture. I wanted the right artist to complement the beat, you know, to finish up the track. And each track I feel like I 100% got what I wanted to achieve with the track. So “Cyclone” was the first track made on the project and I knew when I finished the beat… And it took me a while. I was trying to figure out what artist: did I want a singer or a rapper? And I was seeing Tunji’s name on blogs and websites. And I heard his stuff and it really inspired me. His sound and his cadence is really dope. And I said “Yo I need to get him on a track.” And I just made a call and we met in New York and we did a studio session.
So you were in the room for that one?
Yeah definitely. Actually all the tracks I was in the room. I like working hands-on with the artists because I feel like I can get the most out of them. And plus I wanna direct them, I want to just take them on the journey, explain the process of the track. It’s way better than emailing I believe. I wanna be there for the process. That’s what makes a producer and a beat maker two different things.
How old are you?
Um, I’m in my 20s. I don’t like giving out my age. [Laughs].
Not to pry in your private life, but that’s klnd of an old-school approach to production. Who instilled that in you?
I love watching documentaries, and Quincy Jones is one of my favorite producers. And just seeing like his process with Michale Jackson and how he used to take different concepts and ideas and how he would bring session musicians, it was just an amazing thing. I kinda look up to that, what Quincy Jones did in the 80s.
So you mean to say Michael didn’t email the vocals for “Billy Jean?”
Ha—no, he never did that. [Laughs]
So how did you put the other records together, like “New Ting”?
“New Ting” I did that hands-on with Ye Ali. We came to the studio in Harlem the studio where I used to go last year. We cut a couple tracks but this one really stood out to me. He was in the zone. He has this whole ’90s Jodeci thing going on and I have the whole Harlem thing going on. So we kinda took the best of both worlds. So I put those hard drums on that R&B smooth type of vibe and they really complemented each other.
And there’s this other song “Touch” featuring this vocalist named Sessi. She’s from the Bronx. I found her through a mutual friend and I just played her this record. it’s more worldly. It’s more a dancehall type of vibe. It’s definitely a good summer joint. And she really did her thing on the vocals, man. I’m really proud of her.
Do you have a little Caribbean in your family?
Definitely, and the past year I’ve been traveling a lot. I’ve been to Toronto, and I don’t wanna be cliche but I’ve been a lot of places. But I’m half Puerto Rican. I got the island vibe. And just growing up in New York I’m surrounded by all these different cultures. I want this project to be worldly culturally and just another stepping stone in my career. I wanna take things to the next level.
How did you decide to start putting out your own stuff on Fools Gold?
I’ve always been a fan of Fools Gold, A-Trak. Always been a fan. Especially from the Kid Cudi days and the stuff they did with Flosstradamus. They were always ahead of the curve and kinda innovators. But I got down because when I fininshed my EP I said, I said “Yo, I wish I could just get on Fools Gold.” And honestly I shot A-Trak an email and he didn’t respond at first. So I shot him another email and he didn’t respond until two months later, and he was like “Yo, let’s do this.” I wish I could tell you another story, but that’s what happened.
Cyclone EP Tracklist