Los Angeles-based singer, Mills, is a soft-spoken songwriter whose style emulates the storytelling of late '60s Laurel Canyon. His debut album Clashing Thoughts (2019) is an eclectic compilation of bedroom love songs, introspective ballads and Summer nights around the campfire. His songs are personable, relatable, and carry captivating melodies that get stuck in your head even after the first listen. The music video for his latest, “Hollow,” follows suit, in the form of a warm evening at a California ranch, with Mills as your tour guide to take you tree climbing, bike riding, and running through fields. It’s humble, and human-natured.
Hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, Mills combines the dexterity of Nashville songwriting with the studio-production glamour of the West Coast in his music. It’s been over a year since his last release, and in that time Mills has looked inward, finding new inspiration in his songwriting, and developing his skills in the studio. His forthcoming EP, Train of Thoughts is out this Spring via Keep Cool/RCA Records.
“Hollow” is the first single off of the EP. We spoke to Mills about the new release, and his influences on it.
EARMILK: What are your inspirations for Train of Thoughts?
Mills: “I’m focusing on songwriting and storytelling. My hometown is like an hour north of Nashville, and my brother is a songwriter as well, so I’ve always kinda been around good songwriting. And I admire what The Byrds did in the 1960’s where they took Bob Dylan songs and put pop music behind it, and people were gravitating towards it, [and] subconsciously listening to words that actually meant something and that mattered, and so I guess that would be what I’m most looking forward to. Telling something with substance, but also something that an untrained ear, or y’know just any listener can gravitate towards just cause it’s catchy as well.”
E: What artists have you been listening to that have influenced your work on the EP?
M: “My biggest influence right now, and kinda has been for the last year, is the music of late '60s, early '70s Laurel Canyon. Like Crosby, Stills and Nash, I listen to them like every single day, and have been for the longest time now. The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Mama’s and the Papa’s, Joni Mitchell, and then some newer dudes, like y’know John Mayer, I always keep him in rotation. And Jon Bellion is one of my favorite songwriters; he’s just killing it right now.”
E: What do you want your listeners to take away from “Hollow”?
M: “With all of my songs I just want people to feel Human, […] and that they way that they’re feeling doesn’t make them bad, or that the way that they’re feeling doesn’t make them a certain type of thing, it’s just a human emotion. And for just somebody to hear somebody else talk about it, and put it into a more clear, concise way than maybe they could, but it’s exactly how they’re feeling, that’s what I want them to take away. I want them to get the feeling when listening to me, that I get when I’m listening to my favorite artists. And they make me feel like I’m not alone.”
E: What’re you’re feelings behind “Hollow”?
M: “[Hollow] always plays in my head when I’m in a place where I’m not supposed to be or I’m doing something I’m not supposed to do. I’d say that every song that I write puts me further ahead and it’s almost like holding me accountable for things I’ve done in the past because I’m writing about it, I’m learning from it. I just wanna keep on doing that, and I’m excited to keep on writing music that people can relate to and feel.”