Blake Mills: A Musician’s Musician
A new mini documentary highlighting songwriter/guitarist/producer Blake Mills has just been released. This is the 4th episode in a series that celebrates the individual stories of emerging artists. The video introduces the 25-year old artist, and features commentary from Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), James Valentine (Maroon 5), Tony Berg (producer), Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Jackson Browne, Kid Rock, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), and more.
At 25, the Venice, California-based musician has already stacked up a career’s worth of gigs as a session and touring guitarist, playing with a diverse array of musicians that span from Cass McCombs to Kid Rock. When producers like Rick Rubin need a guitarist, Mills is the first call. His flawless technique and uncanny confidence matched with a unique interpretation of every piece of music he touches has turned Mills into one of the most in-demand players in the music business.
As a guitarist, Mills is in a league of his own. As a songwriter, he’s downright intimidating. After cutting his teeth in Simon Dawes, the band he co-founded in high school with Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Mills stepped out on his own, recording the highly personal 9-song album, Break Mirrors (Record Collection, 2010). Oddly enough, the original intention of Break Mirrors was to serve as a calling card for Mills to get session work and despite the low-key nature of the release, friends and fellow musicians began testifying about the strength of the record. Within months, as burned CD’s and cassettes got passed around, that small group of fans quickly turned into a mass of believers. By the end of 2011, a handful of web sites and bands were hailing Break Mirrors as one of the year’s very best.
As a collaborator, Mills never vies for the spotlight. Instead, he works to elevate the level of everyone around him. Over the last five years Mills has accompanied artists such as Fiona Apple, Lucinda Williams, Conor Oberst, Julian Casablancas, Cass McCombs, Band of Horses, and Dawes.
In late 2011, after spending back-to-back years on tour and in the studio playing on other people’s records, Blake decided it was time to move into the producer’s chair. “I’ve recently enjoyed working in the studio as a producer,” says Blake. It’s given me the opportunity to explore concepts that are sometimes broader than just guitar parts.” In less than a year Mills has produced recordings for ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons, Jesca Hoop, HAIM, Dawes, and Nickel Creek‘s Sara Watkins.
Watch the Blake Mills mini documentary below: