Mills brings big dreams, folk-pop-rap sound to Lollapalooza


Sydney Laput

Artist Mills gets interviews by buzz Editor, Sydney Wood, after his performance on Thursday at the BMI stage for Lollapalooza. Mills sang Mills played “Lovely,” “Clashing Thoughts” and more during his set.

By Sydney Wood, buzz Editor

Kentucky-born artist Mills can describe his music in three words: “Feel Good Sh*t.”

Mills kicked off Lollapalooza on Thursday, July 28, at the BMI stage, playing a 1:00 p.m. set under the cool shade of the tree-lined grounds. His nine-track setlist included tunes from his past work, along with new unreleased tunes. 

With his slight Southern drawl, youthful energy and upbeat instrumentals, Mills’ music falls within the center of a folk-pop-rap Venn diagram. 

From his Lollapalooza set, Mills said a highlight of the show was seeing people sing along with him, which, he added, is common in his home state of Kentucky. He said that audiences in Los Angeles — his new home — have a vastly different vibe. 

“I moved to Los Angeles, and it seems like everybody’s, like, too cool for that,” he said. “I played this festival called Revolve Fest before Coachella, and everybody’s just sort of standing around trying to look cool.” 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

He described Lollapalooza’s audience as being receptive to the music he played during the festival and his set the night before on July 28 at Bottom Lounge in Chicago. 

“They’re really here for the music, and they want to have a good time, so, that was definitely felt,” he said. 

During his 40-minute set, Mills played “Lovely” from his first album, “Clashing Thoughts,” along with “Five N’ Dime” and “The Store,” which are from his latest LP, “Final Thoughts.” He also sang some new tunes, like “Hands On Me” and “Dandelion.” 

For “Hands on Me,” he taught the audience how to sing the tune’s chorus, which he said was one of his favorite moments during the show. 

“I teach everybody the words before (the song) and then by the last hook, everybody’s singing it,” he said. “And it’s like, ‘This song isn’t even out yet,’ you know? Yeah, that’s a special feeling.”

Finding his voice in music hasn’t always been easy for him, though. 

After growing up about an hour north of Nashville, Tennessee, Mills said it took some time for him to learn how to consolidate those country influences with his own taste in music. 

“Early on, I was making beats and rap, and I just didn’t feel like myself, but it was just like a fun thing to do,” he said. “As I got further along in my journey of music, I started blending that influence of making beats and stuff with my singer-songwriter stuff on the guitar.”

After a while, he said, his music began to feel more like himself, though he added that it was challenging to find people that understood his vision in combining elements of pop, folk and rock. 

Mills will begin releasing more music in the fall and is currently working on an upcoming studio album, titled “Millsyboy,” which he said is an affectionate nickname given to him by his closest friends from his home in Kentucky, at school in Tennessee and now in L.A.  

“It feels like when I get close to somebody, they start calling me Millsyboy,” he said. “So this is the music that’s closest to me, and it feels like I’m being the most vulnerable I’ve ever been, so I’m bringing that to my audience.”

Mills said “Millsyboy” will feature some of the best work that he’s released. He said there will be more harmonies, richer textures and bigger-sounding songs than in his past work. He listens to artists like Little Feet, Joni Mitchell and the Zombies as inspiration for his songwriting. 

Looking toward the future, Mills said his dream is to play at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. 

“It looks so much fun,” he said. “I never got to go as a spectator, and then (to) this girl in my choir class – I said, ‘I’m gonna play Bonnaroo one day’ — and she was like, ‘No, you’re not. You’re not gonna do that,’ and I was like, ‘Keep watching,’ so that’s been the goal.” 


[email protected]