Blake Mills, born in Santa Monica CA in 1986, is a musician, songwriter, composer, and producer currently based in Venice Beach, California.
Growing up, Blake spent time studying and performing world music with Bob Brozman in Santa Cruz, CA. During this time, he developed an appreciation of music from West Africa that continues to influence his playing style.
He was a founding member and co songwriter for the band Simon Dawes with his classmates from high school. They toured and made one record with producer Tony Berg with whom Blake continues to work with and considers a mentor.
Following his departure from Simon Dawes in Oct. 2008, Blake developed his reputation as a session musician as he gained a network of artists that he continues to work with. Through these contributions, Blake has toured with Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses, Cory Chisel, Jesca Hoop, Cass McCombs, and Julian Casablancas.
Between his touring and session work, Blake began work on his self-produced debut album Break Mirrors, which will be released in 2010 via Record Collection. He also contributed music for two films: the score for the forthcoming Ozzy Osbourne documentary, Wreckage of My Past, and guitar for The People Speak, a political documentary starring Howard Zinn, Matt Damon, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Josh Brolin, and others. Recently he performed, co-wrote, and produced the 2009 Mt Egypt album III and is producing the debut album from the Los Angeles band Haim.
Blake also is a musical consultant for Apple Computers and Apogee Electronics.
How do you describe your music to people?
I generally don't. That's not really my job! When that situation arises it puts me in a position I don't feel comfortable in. My descriptions totally feel like a digression.
It's more difficult to describe the stuff on Break Mirrors because it's kind of a diverse swatch of material. The record was written over a long period of time during which my inspirations as a songwriter were constantly changing.
Instrumental/Soundtrack stuff is a bit easier because there's usually a solid impetus to begin with. And if it's a piece that begins by accident, it's not difficult to make something up, after-the-fact. I think it's called "lying".
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I was all about MTV in 1996. Seeing the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Enter Sandman" videos over and over again must have brainwashed me into wanting to own a guitar; I just wanted to own it! Could have cared less if I could play it. But the store where my parents bought one gave lessons on the cheap with the purchase of a guitar. Next step was to pay my respects to Nirvana and Metallica.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Driving with my windows down and the heater on.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Being a prolific songwriter would make everything a bit simpler, but unfortunately I don't write often enough to be a full-time solo artist. So my career has a few branches that keep everything pretty balanced and to help with cash flow; Studio session work, touring guitarist, film composing, co-writing, producing... doing one feeds my desire to explore another.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Guitar player. I don't think I really took that idea seriously before 6th or 7th grade, but by then all the eggs were in the basket. I remember thinking I couldn't do anything else. I knew if it didn't work out that I'd be in trouble.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Living predominantly in beach communities has made my general pace pretty easy-going... I suspect there's some trace of that in my musicianship.
Living in Los Angeles has allowed me numerous introductions to some incredibly talented people, some of whom become collaborators.
What other artists out there do you love?
I've really been in an Arthur Russell mode for about 3 months now. Also a big fan of Cai Guo-Qiang's installations.
What does your future hold?