Enigmatic dark pop talent 19MIL has been painting the Miami music scene with her vibrant yet melancholic artistry which brings haunting pop melodies together with a gritty rockstar edge to unveil tales of resilience, defiance, and self-discovery that fuse personal narratives with elements of universal human experiences for an ethereal and compelling sonic journey.
Having swapped the glitz and glamour of fashion design and modelling in NYC for the alluring pulls of her passion for music, 19MIL met her muse and mentor, Ohtrapstar, propelling her to fame buoyed by constant musical evolution.
With her ability to transform personal pain into empowering anthems, every note from 19MIL is a gentle yet powerful stroke that offers solace and strength for every wandering soul.
Speaking to Earmilk, she delves into her multi-faceted career and sonic growth, her carefully crafted approach to visual storytelling, her aim to foster emotion connectivity and much more.
- 19MIL, your unique sound stands out in the Miami music scene. What inspired you to create your distinct blend of dark pop?
My whole life I’ve really loved listening to music. I spent the majority of my days hauled up in my room singing along to my favorite songs for hours on end. When I first started making music I wasn’t sure what genre it was that I wanted to sing. My main focus was really just figuring out what it meant to hear a “good beat” and how to find melodies, let alone try to phantom putting words to them. But truthfully, I gravitate to male artists. I started to listen closer to lyrical artists I admire like Post Malone, The Weeknd, XXXTentacion, Catfish and the Bottlemen, etc. I wanted to make something that was a mix of feminine yet extremely unique and experimental. From the first guitar dark pop beat I heard, I knew it was the perfect mix of a rockstar edge accompanied by ghostly cinematics.
- Having initially pursued modeling and fashion design in NYC, what triggered your shift to music? How did Ohtrapstar play a role in convincing you of your talents and introducing you to the music world?
In 2020 during Covid-19 I actually met Ohtrapstar, one of the only two people in my life who had ever truly believed in me. He soon became my long-term boyfriend which evidently moved me across the country to his hometown of sunny Miami Florida. For two years I accompanied him day in and day out, running through what was sometimes up to five different studios per day. He lived in the studio. A work ethic I’ve still only seen from him. But as I referred to earlier, I have always loved music; still the thought of me being an artist myself NEVER crossed my mind, not once. I always used to sing daily around our apartment for fun and he was dead set on me getting in the studio. One late October night he surprised me with a session booked solely for me. After the first second I hopped on the mic I was addicted. From there on he began whole heartedly teaching me everything he possibly could. That was the greatest mentor I could have asked for and now the most meaningful muse I will ever create for.
- Music seems to be a therapeutic outlet for you. Can you share how it has helped you cope with life's challenges, such as the loss of your brother and struggles with mental health?
In my personal experience with mental illness, journaling played a major role throughout my extensive process of therapy. It was something I had to do multiple times every day. As I started to regularly write down the things I was feeling, not only did I feel better, I started to realize if writing these things on paper was so meaningful & helpful to me – what could it do for someone else? Someone who felt just as alone, lost, and hopeless as myself. I wanted them to be words that could be useful to OTHERS, not just taking up a page. Putting time and effort into something so important to myself that will have the potential to rescue others from their solitude gave me a sense of purpose I had been searching so long for in my own life.
- Your music aims to resonate with everyone, regardless of age or gender. How do you ensure that your sound appeals to such a diverse audience?
Being a young individual, of course I tend to produce a sound that is more than likely going to be prominently more popular throughout generations closer to my own. However, the songs are always going to be about universal situations. Things like loss and heartache are emotions that everyone is going to experience at some point in life. Unfortunately more often than we’d probably like. I try to write my music to appeal to anyone – any age, any race, any gender.
- “Deep End” encapsulates your journey and emotions. What inspired the creation of this track, and what message do you hope listeners will take away from it?
“Deep End,” not only the song but the project as a whole, is one of the most meaningful things I’ve created to date. It is a song that was inspired by what should be the “damage” of literally everything I’ve ever experienced. The main point of this track was to showcase my life story. Referencing uncanny memories of tearful moments and the countless times I seemed to drown in the sorrow. Although, as I continued to write the song I quickly realized I didn’t want to keep portraying myself as being defeated – I was actively working very hard to fix myself. I no longer wanted to be seen as wounded, I wanted people to know that I was strong; that no matter what life was going to throw at me, I would without a doubt come back from, greater than before. Thus, causing me to develop the idea to transition the tone of the song into a surprisingly positive direction – the lyrics going from a pitiful, “I was just a little girl” to a powerful, “I’m NOT just a little girl”. I hope listeners feel compelled to stand strong in their own power and know the importance of their self-worth as well.
- As the director and co-editor of your music videos, how do you approach translating the essence of your songs to the screen?
The video of a song is something I can watch in my head from the moment the lyrics come together. When it comes to production, I provide my team with a detailed treatment. I style myself, provide them with mood boards, exact shot lists, scene lists, etc. As for the editing, I start off with sending a timeline where I’ve laid out what scenes should be where, at what points in the song certain elements should be introduced, as well as exact time frames for specific scene changes. From there we are able to build a rough draft with place holders for the time being. Next we actually have extensive one on one meetings where he and I go over every individual clip I have and what I want to put where.
- You’ve praised your production team highly. How have they contributed to bringing your musical vision to life?
I’m definitely the bridezilla of music videos, a real creative control freak. That being said, my team really allows me to have full creative freedom – listening closely to what I want to achieve and always working to the best of their abilities to help me produce the short film of my dreams.
- The visuals for “Deep End” symbolize rising from the ashes. How have your personal experiences shaped this theme of resilience in your work?
For only being 23 years old, I’ve witnessed many things in life that thankfully some people will never experience. One thing I’ve seen countless times is trials and tribulations rip people’s entire lives apart, and them never recovering. Horrific situations like the tragic death of my brother, followed by the stomach curling passing of my long-term love really rocked my world, taking me to the lowest point in my life. I truthfully saw no point in being alive. I felt confused & honestly afraid to continue to live life. They always say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and meeting my next test was something I was mortified of. But, one day I woke up and I decided I wanted to live. I could finally understand that remaining strong was the real victory.
- Your lyrics emphasize self-worth and defiance. How do you draw upon your experiences to craft such empowering messages?
My entire life I was never one to fit in. Always being sort of a lone wolf. I come from a very small eclectic beach town where most people just live a simple life and go with the flow. Music and fashion are not so prominently doted on & fishing is how most people pass their time. However, I always really enjoyed standing out. That didn’t make it easy though. My whole life I was bullied to an extent where I switched schools practically yearly, evidently getting so bad throughout high school that I had to eventually turn to online schooling. And even still to this day, the internet makes room for so much hate. To me I try my very best to stress to my listeners the need to cherish themselves regardless of what others try to make them think/feel about themselves. So what if you’re different. People are always going to be quick to judge and quick to hate. Only you know who you are at your core, don’t let anyone try to tell you differently.
- Music is a way for you to connect with others and share mutual human experiences. How do you decide which experiences to share and how to present them in your music?
Since music is therapy for me, every song I’ve ever written is a detailed short story about something I've been through. However, I don’t proactively pick topics to sing about when I’m writing. What I’m going to choose to write about next is an ever-changing turntable of ideas. I am definitely someone who needs to hear the beat first. I like to listen to the instrumental alone on loop and just see what randomly flows out of me. However, when I go through something that I know is relatable, even if I don’t see its potential as a song yet – I keep it logged in my journal. But 99% of the time, I like to let it just flow
- “Deep End” has set high expectations for your future work. What can fans expect from your upcoming projects?
“Deep End” was an official transitional piece for me. Not only is it my most meaningful song out to date, but it is also the first glimpse into my new found sound. I have so many singles lined up that I am zealously excited to release! Listeners can expect captivating light yet somehow dark harmonies – Destined to take them for a wild ride.
- You are on the verge of making a significant impact in the music industry. How do you plan on using your platform and influence to shape the industry?
I want to shape the industry for the better. I want to bring light to the situations that others try to hide from their fans. This world can be a cruel place. I want to make others feel MORE, not LESS than. I want to be a voice of reason.
- Finally, with your rising success and the unique path you’ve taken, what advice would you give to aspiring artists who are trying to find their own voice?
Being yourself is the most authentic and unique thing you can do. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the ability to create freely; experiment with your tone! Try new things, practice daily, and most importantly… get outside opinions, but don’t let anyone besides yourself determine what works for you. Music is anything you want it to be. As long as you feel something when you hear it, you’re doing something right.