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Music Spotlight: Riverside’s Very Own – T. Mills



Photo by Ben Cope

           He had goals that went beyond the boundaries of the I.E. From making demos out of his bedroom to now selling out shows at the El Rey Theatre, Riverside native Travis Tatum Mills, better known as T. Mills, is living those dreams. But he’s never forgotten his roots. After touring, night after night of diehard faves screaming his name and singing his lyrics, Travis takes a break from signing girls, to spend quality time with family back home. “You can find me in Riverside. I go to [Tyler] mall still. I do the same s*** I was doing before; I just live in LA now because I work so here much,” says Mills on coming home.

           For the most part he prefers to disassociate his music from genres. His songs are a blend of rap with catchy hooks and melodic choruses. This fusion of sounds caught the ear of Columbia Records who signed the artist in 2011. Despite being signed to a major label, Mills still takes a very DIY approach to his career by connecting with fans on Twitter making sure he gives love to the Young Favorites (T. Mills fan base name) every day. He’s made major strides from his Myspace days and doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. With this next album dropping later this year, Thrillionaire 2, you can expect to see and hear much more of Mills in 2013. Catch his his newest single “Loud” playing on Power 106 or buy it on iTunes!

           I caught up with Travis at his second El Rey show with Sammy Adams this past Saturday, just one day after his first sold out show at the same venue, for an interview where he answered fan questions and we learned about some of the collaborations on his upcoming projects! Catch it all here.

Photo by Morgan Fujimoto


Her Campus: What are some on the road essentials you absolutely can’t travel without?

T. Mills: A lot of suit cases, hangers, cologne… umm, shit. Baby wipes! Towels, towels are a big one, and I just think comfortable clothes because you’re hanging out a lot. Those are tour essentials.


HC: How do you like touring on your own as opposed to Warped?

TM: You get to play in venue every single day. [Whereas] Warped is an all day festival; it’s outdoors, it’s hot as shit. And venues, they’re a little more luxurious. You get dressing rooms and couches and mirrors and air conditioning and fridges and stuff. So, it’s cool, and I’m really excited for this tour because I haven’t really done a venue tour in a while. It’s been a little bit. So, Warped was the last big tour that we did and it was great, but this is a lot easier than Warped.


HC: What do you do when you’re busy playing shows or working on music? What’s Travis’s downtime like?

TM: I don’t have down time. I work all the time, but I’d rather have it like that, you know?


Photo by Aris Jerome


HC: What’s been the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make to pursue your dream?

TM: Definitely seeing my family. It’s really hard. I live in LA, they live in Riverside still. And my schedule is so crazy, but I like nights like this because they get to come out to the shows and hang out, kinda see what I’ve been working on. Then I leave for six weeks, so it’s tough but it’s cool. They’re super supportive. They get it. But definitely, you don’t get to hang out with your friends. I mean you do, but it’s just in a different way.


HC: I’ve heard you describe your sound as “hip pop” and “strip hop…”

TM: “Strip hop” I said that drunk in an interview, and it caught on *laughs*.

HC: Why do you think it’s so difficult for some people to embrace such versatile sounds from one artist?

TM: I don’t know. I think a lot of people are close minded, you know. I can’t speak for everybody ‘cause I feel like music is based on opinion, and opinion is one person’s. And everyone interprets music, and art, and movies, and everything different, you know. I’ll pray for them though.


HC: Are there any special collaborations on your next album people can look forward to that you can tell us about?

TM: I’ve been working with Mike Posner a lot. So, we have a couple cool songs. I don’t know if they’re going on the album yet, but I’m super stoked. That’s the homie. We’ve been doing a lot of s*** together. He came out to El Rey last night and we played out little “Started from the Bottom” remix together. And it really went off. I got a single [Somebody to Miss You] that’s going to come out with Boi-1da, Ludwig, Cook Classic, [and James Fauntleroy]. And I really want to put Travis Barker on my album. That’s all I’m gonna say for now. Can’t give too much away.


HC: You have some diehard fans, the Young Favorites

TM: Definitely.

HC: What’s it like when someone starts crying when they meet you? How do you react to that?

TM: It’s awkward! It’s creep… not creeps, but…

HC: It’s intense.

TM: Yeah. It’s like, “why are you crying over me?” It’s just weird. I don’t know. I want them to be the opposite. It’s cool though! Someone cares about you that much to cry.


HC: Would you rather be treated a little more normal?

TM: Nah, the intensity is what makes everything fun and kind of worth it. You know, it keeps it from being mundane, and usual, and normal. That’s the s*** that I love to get on film; it’s like a special moment. I mean, I feel bad though. It’s like “Yo, don’t cry! It’s okay. I’m nice, I swear!” I bet s couple days after the show and they look at the picture and they see themselves crying with me they’re probably mad. *Laughs*


HC: What’s the wildest fan encounter you’ve ever had?

TM: Umm, I’ll give you a PG one. We played a club in Bakersfield. I’ve said this a bunch, because this just takes the cake. These girls, we played this nightclub a couple hours away, and they really wanted to hang out after the show. Like, “we got a hotel.” All this stuff, and I’m like “Okay, but I really gotta go back to LA.” So, after the show and the meet and greet, we walk outside and our car, the tires were slashed. And they wrote “I love you,” all over it with lipstick. So, we had to wait a long time for AAA to come and fix it. And they were just hanging out outside of the club, waiting for us. So, that was definitely crazy. I’ve never had anyone do that.


Interviewing Travis at his El Rey show 4/6

Photo by Morgan Fujimoto


Photo source unknown – Courtesy of T. Mills’ Facebook

HC: You’ve got a lot girls showing you love, but what kind of women do you actually like?

TM: I just love, I love girls. I love women, I love girls. I love females. I’m intrigued. I feel like I can get along better with girls than guys. It’s a lot easier for me to go talk to a girl than a guy.


HC: Why is that?

TM: I don’t know. It’s just always been that way. Probably because I’m so cool with my mom. A girl has to have a nice smile. Teeth are huge for me. She has to be able to handle my [perverseness] *laughs*and I feel like I’m a little bit of both sometimes. I’m mature sometimes in the business sense, and in pursuit of my goals and my dreams. But at the same time I’m very immature, and I joke around about stupid shit. I have fun with my friends. Girls have to be cool with that.


HC: I’m actually from Riverside, I got to school there, and a lot of the people I go to school with aren’t exactly fond of it. Why is it so important to you to always rep Riverside, even though it’s not the most popular city?

TM: I like the fact that I came from not the most popular city. I feel like that’s what helped me become the person that I am today. Like my attitude towards everything. I like people that come from where we’re from, they have to work twice as hard as people who grew up at the beach or LA, you know? You know what I mean? Circumstances are just different, and it’s just a different mentality. It’s taught be to be a lot more humble. It’s humbling, living out there and then coming to a place like this. I mean, you can just see the difference in people, you know what I mean? But yeah, I’m grateful for where I come from. My family still lives there. I still go there, I visit.


HC: Was Riverside Girl about any one in particular? Or what inspired you to write that song?

TM: It’s a compilation. It’s a compilation of…

HC: A bunch of Riverside girls?

TM: Yeah, of my life.


HC: As a native, do you have any places in the city you like? Maybe a favorite place to eat?

TM: Miguel’s. It’s not technically in Riverside; it’s on the border of Corona and Riverside. Oh, actually no! There’s one in Tyler mall. I’m trippin’! so there you go, Miguel’s. I go there every time I’m in the I.E. I’m trying to think, what else? Baker’s, ‘cause we don’t have that out here.

T. Mills performing at th El Rey Theatre 4/6

Photo by  Morgan Fujimoto


         I asked the Young Favorites to send in some questions for T. Mills to answer. I chose the best ones and he picked a bunch out at random to answer. See if your question got picked!

Travis answering fan question

Photo by Morgan Fujimoto

Fan Q&A

@4ngelicaa: What made you want to have a guitarist on stage with you while you play? Will he be with you for future shows?

TM: I feel like we’re all musical dudes. Adding more members to my live show is something that we’ve always wanted to do. He won’t be going on the whole tour. He’s only here for these shows , but it’s my show. I’ll do what I want! Nah, but it’s cool having a guitar player; it changes up the dynamics of things.


@TMCWestcoast: What’s the weirdest things a fan has asked you that kinda creeped you out?

TM: This… this thing! This question…


@_LoveTMillsBabe: Any idea when you will release “Slow Jam?”

TM: I was just having that conversation with 1500 or Nothin’ last night. I don’t know when. When the time is right it’ll come out. I have a bunch of songs that I’m waiting to drop. And I have a whole album that is about to drop, and we just dropped “Loud” so when the time is right, I’ll drop it for everyone.


@_LoveTMillsBabe: have you gotten a chance to read the scrapbooks that were made for you? Ps – You’re perfect and I love you.

TM: Thank you, and I haven’t had a chance yet. But tonight we get on my tour bus to leave California and we’re bringing all that on the bus so I’m going to look through it all tonight.


@GnarlyFaves: Can you ask Travis what his favorite song off his new album is? And when it’s coming out?

TM: Umm, I don’t know. I guess my favorite songs off the album are the ones I’m playing at the show. “Riverside Girl,” this song called “All I Wanna Do,” “Somebody to Miss You,” “Loud.” I’m playing them all this tour which I’ve never really done before. You know, I’ve never really played album songs before it was out. So, it’s cool because I get to test them out and see what people like.


HC: Yeah, and see how the crowd reacts.

TM: Exactly. That’s what we’ve been doing on this tour and it’s worked out really well.


@MDiazXo: Define a ‘Young Favorite.’

TM: I’m going to let Tony (Travis’ personal assistant/best friend) answer that. Tony, what’s a Young Favorite?

Tony: Me.

TM: Tony’s a Young Favorite. Just embody Tony, Pretty Tony and you’re in there. Just embody him.


Photo by Morgan Fujimoto

@TMCWestcoast: what’s your favorite song that you’ve written and why?

TM: Favorite song I’ve written. That’s so hard because I’ve written so many songs. I have so much unreleased music that people haven’t heard. “Riverside Girl” is one of my favorite songs. “Leaving Home” was a favorite song of mine, but I just feel like I’ve outgrown it. I feel like “Riverside Girl” kind of replaced that. It’s like my ode to where I’m from.

HC: It’s funny because you have a lot of people loving that song who aren’t from Riverside, and you have it kind of resonating with them.

TM: Yeah, I feel that’s because that has my personality on there. It’s 100% me. No one else can sing that song, you known what I mean?


@MontanaSkylynn: The song “Smoke & Mirrors” has gotten me through so much, what influenced you to write that song?

TM: I think people influenced me to write that song. Just whether they would say things, or not come through on things. I still remember the day I wrote that song, and I wrote it pretty fast; it was awesome. Yeah, so I’m going to see people influenced me to write that song.


@SabryFizzy: Can you ask Travis when is he is coming to Italy?

TM: I’m trying to come back to Europe this year. That was one of the best tours I’ve ever done.


@TRAVISMILiS: what is your favorite food?

TM: Salmon with spinach and garlic mashed potatoes. Wood plank grilled salmon, it has to be wood plank grilled!


@YasDawg21: can you ask Travis if he remembers his Airport Girlfriends from Salt Lake City? Please!!

TM: I was about to say that as soon as I read her Twitter name. Yo, what’s up man?! YasDaaawg! Yeah, I definitely remember you from the airport in Salt Lake City. Thank you for coming and finding me that one day, and I hope I see you at another airport soon.


HC: Well, thank you so much for sitting down for this interview with us.

TM: Yeah, of course. No problem, that’s love.

More pictures of T. Mills from his Saturday El Rey show 4/6


Photo by Morgan Fujimoto

Photo by Morgan Fujimoto


Connect with T. Mills!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilovetmills/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ilovetmills

Tumblr: http://ilovetmills.tumblr.com/

YouTube: http://youtube.com/ilovetmills




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Lia Gonzalez

UC Riverside

Lia Gonzalez is a Creative Writing major at UCR. She is an alumna of Alpha Chi Omega, in which she held various positions. She was one of the first to write music related articles and artist interviews for HC - UCR. Read more of her articles by searching: Lia Gonzalez, and Music Spotlight.
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