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Piotr Niepsuj

Mr. Mitch follows generations of fatherhood in his new video

The avant-grime producer makes an ode to love, loyalty and family in the video for his P Money-featuring ‘Priority’

Mr. Mitch might be one of the nicest guys in London’s ever-expanding grime scene – and, if the polished and emotional songs on his new album Devout are any indicator, he may already be on his way towards becoming one of the nicest guys engineering the next wave of global pop music. Taking inspiration from the singular sonic fingerprints of Timbaland and The Neptunes as rocket fuel, Miles Mitchell busted the grime template wide open as the 2010s dawned. By co-founding the experimental Boxed club night, and establishing his independent label Gobstopper Records, Mitchell began to contribute to a new wave of open-eared instrumental grime that helped reinvigorate the MC driven side of the scene as well.        

In 2017, Mitchell can be found producing in the studio for the likes of Katy B and P Money, playing shows across North America for avant-garde collectives like RVNG Intl., or getting down with the home team at Boxed. The influence of these worlds, and his personal journey with music, all swirl together on Devout, his ode to love, loyalty, family, fatherhood, and the start and end of relationships.

Working with a cast of guest vocalists that includes P Money, Duval Timothy, Denai Moore, Palmistry, Py, and most affectionately his sons Oscar and Milo, Mitchell reframed the melodic sensibilities of late 2000s indie-electronica acts like Hot Chip and Metronomy within grime production. Fusing the outcome with soul and R&B vocals, he arrived in a peacefully warmhearted space. Emboldened by the privacy of a writing room located at his publishers, Mr. Mitch pushed things further by adding his own soft, intimate, and lovingly sung vocals to several songs on Devout. Today, however, we’re kicking off our conversation by talking to him about the black and white music video for “Priority”, his collaboration with respected Grime MC P Money.     

We’re premiering the music video for ‘Priority’. Could you tell us a bit about the song and the video? 

Mr. Mitch: I had the beat ready, and I wanted an MC on it. Based on my other tracks, I knew I wanted a dad who could talk about his experiences as a father. I’d seen P Money talk about his son on social media, so I knew he was the right person for it. I was really grateful to be able to get him and his son in the music video. 

For the video, I linked up with other producers and friends in music who are dads. It’s a representation of dads doing their day-to-day thing. I’ve got Last Japan in there with his son; Logos (one of Boxed’s co-founders alongside Mr. Mitch) is in there with his daughter. His daughter was born on the same day as my son Oscar, which was very strange. They’re the Boxed kids. Mark Force from Bugz In The Attic is in the video with his daughters. My cousin and a family friend feature as well. I’m grateful to have them all showing their day-to-day lives, just as a representation of dads and the normalisation of fatherhood. Luke Carlisle directed it. He really understands the music.

Fatherhood, family and friendship hang heavily over Devout. It makes me think about the heightened awareness of social and political issues over the last five years. Where is your headspace at with this stuff?

Mr. Mitch: If I’m at a dinner and the conversation gets too political, there is normally a point where I bow out. Either I don’t feel like I’m informed enough to contribute, or don’t care enough to contribute. Having children has changed that a little bit. I care a lot more about the issues affecting my children than I ever cared about those issues affecting myself. I always felt like you just get on with it, no matter how bad the situation is. It’s never felt great, so you just crack on anyway. When you have kids, you start to want things to get a bit better. 

Fatherhood was a large part of my life when I was writing Devout, especially with my partner being pregnant at the time. As the album developed, it became an issue I wanted to see spoken about. I just thought it would be nice to have something positive related to fatherhood for once.

“Fatherhood was a large part of my life when I was writing Devout, especially with my partner being pregnant at the time” – Mr. Mitch

That’s the reality, isn’t it? Things that should be default standards still need to be spotlighted and celebrated.

Mr. Mitch: I think a lot of people don’t realise how crazy it is. It’s sort of in everyone’s psyche in a way to make these little jokes about dads being useless. It’s a standard joke. Men use it themselves, and everyone sort of plays up to it a bit. You don’t realise how much of an issue it is until you take a step back. 

Just look at how fathers are often depicted in cartoons or television shows, and they tend to be the good ones.

Mr. Mitch: It’s funny isn’t it (laughs). One of the shows that I grew up watching that was about a family unit was My Wife and Kids. The dad in that was a bit of a buffoon, but he was still a positive role model for the kids. Interestingly, it was a black family as well, which was quite nice to see. Damon Wayans played the dad, and the Wayans brothers have a history of promoting black representation in film and television.

What about your father? What’s he like?

Mr. Mitch: My dad used to play in a lovers rock band. He was a guitarist, and he was part of the Ariwa Sound System. He used to work with The Mad Professor, and tour Europe a bit when I was really young. When I got older, he quit the music to work in IT. I think it was mainly to do with money and to be around for me more. He was a big factor in pushing music into my life. He tried to teach me guitar early on, but it didn’t work. He’s always played a major role in the decisions I’ve made in my life, especially with music. Unfortunately now, he has multiple sclerosis. He’s not in the same state he once was. 

Could you tell us about your music writing process? 

Mr. Mitch: A lot of the time for me, music creates the concept. I can go into the studio, and make music to fit a specific context, which makes me think about a certain thing or remind me of a moment. It was the same with this album and a lot of music I’ve made before. It links my brain to these other times and places.

“My dad used to play in a lovers rock band... he was a big factor in pushing music into my life” – Mr. Mitch

Would you say you have a strong imagination? I find it striking how your songs can be so minimal and yet so fully fleshed-out.

Mr. Mitch: I would say so (laughs). I grew up as an only child, so imagination was my best friend. I’m very comfortable being alone in my head and creating new worlds. Music was something that took me away to new places. It went hand-in-hand with my imagination.

It took me a long time to figure out how to be minimal with music. Now I don’t even try to make minimal music; it’s just anything else feels like too much. I think I went through a process of trying to take things away with different songs. I hate the term deconstructed club music, but it was deconstructed club music. It really did help me appreciate the finer details in a track. It’s a very of the moment term, but I assure you, I wasn’t trying to be part of a trend when I was doing it.

Once a scene or sound grows beyond a certain point, you can’t control what happens on the edges.

Mr. Mitch: Very early on, a lot of the producers we had coming through Boxed or were pushing, were creating and playing some very interesting stuff. People like Murlo and Mumdance have gone onto bigger platforms, but are still pushing their music in interesting directions. I feel like a lot of the newer producers are making tracks that sound like them. It’s been really hard for me to find interesting new producers to push out with my label and Boxed. I’ve been speaking with Boxed about where things are going. We’re looking beyond grime for interesting electronic music that still feels like us, but pushes in new directions.

Does your interest in minimalism extend beyond music?

Mr. Mitch: I would like to, but I don’t think I could achieve a minimalist life. I like unnecessary things, and I’m far too disorganised. Minimalism in music wasn’t something I was trying for, it just happened. I was really trying to put a lot of different things in my music and make it sound bigger and wider. Then I realised what was going wrong. I didn’t need to add more; I needed to take things away. Maybe when things start going wrong with my life, I’ll start taking things away (laughs)

Mr Mitch’s Devout is out now through Planet Mu