Fordney Foundation Interviews ‘MusicMills’ Brent Thomas Mills
About two years ago the Fordney Foundation was selected by Brent Thomas Mills to be part of a musical extravaganza, the likes of a never before done musical project. When Fordney Foundation heard about what the project was about, we were more than delighted to jump on board with the charismatic Brent Thomas Mills to bring his musical vision into being. Brent Thomas Mills is not only a talented musician, composer, arranger and producer, he has been an integral part of the ballroom/dancesport competition scene most of his life. Brent is the music director for 95+ events yearly. On top of that, he is the creator of streaming on-demand ballroom dance music that he produces and curates. He doesn’t stop there, he is also a designer of studio software, and that’s where the MusicMills name comes in. Brent and his crew of talented musicians, engineers, singers, etc. are always on the move and constantly creating new music, somewhere! His motto is, “Your Music…Your Way!”
Brent is clearly a musical entrepreneur and we have the good fortune to be involved in the Ladies Of Ballroom original CD project with him. We are pleased to catch up with this gifted individual, so all of our readers can learn more about the man himself and why the Fordney Foundation is so excited to be involved in a project with him called, The Ladies Of Ballroom. Freddie Brock: Brent please tell us where you are from and a little about your musical background. Brent Thomas Mills: I grew up in both Northern California and Utah. I earned a degree in Piano Performance from Berklee College of Music in Boston. I also attended Brigham Young University and earned a BFA in Composite Dance. FB: How did you first become connected with ballroom dance competitions?
BTM: There was a drama teacher who was a former champion, teaching Dance/Drama in high school. One of my early influences was Roy Mayvor. I attended Pleasant Grove High in Utah, probably the first high school, at that time, to offer ballroom dance. So you would see these football and baseball players who took ballroom dance for PE credit and we’d all be doing lifts, polkas and learning to ballroom dance. FB: How many years have you been a musical director for dance competitions? Do you participate in ballroom dance competitions internationally too? BTM: I’ve been doing this for 18 years with my SoundStream system set- up, involving my business partners too. I provide music for 95 events a year nationally. Internationally, I direct music in Israel, Croatia, London, Vienna, Costa Rica, Peru, Australia and Canada.
FB: Can you tell us about your career in music and what led you to create The Ladies Of Ballroom concept? And I may add, that this is a first, never done before, kind of CD project. BTM: I have created and composed many tracks for dancers in the past for different occasions, corporations, and competitions. It was when I was working with Sofia D’Angelo, who was our first donor on The Ladies Of Ballroom project, that we started discussing the possibility of creating music specifically for dancers. It definitely takes time and money to make these tracks. Putting together a CD of many songs takes investors, producers, and a means to sell the product. FB: Can you tell us what the objective of The Ladies Of Ballroom CD is? BTM: First, to raise funds to give back to Fordney Foundation. We would like to continue to build our dancesport industry. The younger a child starts dancing, the better off they’ll be. A percentage of each album/track sold goes to the Fordney Foundation. Secondly, we would like to bring more new music to the ballroom/dancesport industry. We want to create sounds, rhythms and songs to inspire dancers. FB: Give us some background on how you came to connect with the Fordney Foundation and why you chose to work with our foundation? BTM: Being involved in a youth competition can be a burden on young people and their parents, especially if money is an issue. I can relate to this myself. When I was a young dancer, I wished that a resource like Fordney Foundation existed to assist with funding that I sorely needed at the time. So, I related to this organization and saw the need for it and contacted Marilyn Fordney right away. FB: Explain about the Ladies Of Ballroom project and the ladies you hope to become part of this first of its kind CD project? BTM: This is Volume 1 of an American Style series we hope to produce more of. When people choose to donate to our CD project, it becomes theirs too. They come away with a donation they can write off, a produced track that they chose; that will potentially be around for the next 20 years, and a tune that has their name on it, as executive producer. Not to mention the flare and exposure that comes with each unique production that my team and I create. FB: Can you tell us why a pro-am dancer, in this particular case, ladies, would want to donate
to this project? BTM: There is an opportunity to take a song that someone loves and make it danceable; suited to their own style, taste and rhythm that they helped produce. There is not enough music out there suited for the American Style. There is not enough American swing, Bolero, Rumba, Mambo or Viennese Waltz. Most Waltz music is too slow. The same with Foxtrots, they are either too slow or too mellow. We can help showcase the dancer with a new production by changing tempos, specific arrangements and even putting new spins on songs that everyone knows and loves. Furthermore, they are donating to a worthwhile cause. They are contributing to the industry in many ways. FB: Which leads me to my next question, how do you select or create your material? Please explain the recording process? BTM: I choose favorite songs, popular songs. An example of a classic song like “Stardust,” made famous by Nat King Cole, we have arranged into a classic Bolero. Dancers want to hear songs they love. For our next upcoming track, we are taking the rock group, ZZ Top’s song, “Sharp Dressed Man” and making a sassy American Foxtrot. We are also going to produce a Justin Timberlake track, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” and make a Cha Cha out of it. In the recording studio, we take alternative rhythms and convert them into a styles most regular musicians wouldn’t necessarily expect.
FB: When do you anticipate The Ladies Of Ballroom project to be completed? BTM: We anticipate Volume 1 – Ladies Of Ballroom project to be completed the end of February to the middle of March 2018. FB: How can we donate to this very worthy project? Where do we go to do this? BTM: You can go to gofundme.com/ladiesofballroom You can also go to the Fordney Foundation website: www.fordneyfoundation.org Click on DONATE. The drop-down takes you to the GoFundMe button, just click on Donate Now. Or if you prefer, you may send a check or money order to: Fordney Foundation: 5739 Kanan Rd., #206, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 Also, if you have any questions about the project, you may also contact me: Brent Thomas Mills: www.MusicMills.net 983-207-8694
FB: Do you have any additional comments you would like to make about the Ladies Of Ballroom CD? BTM: I would just like to make more music for dancers to actively open more doors for them. Our mission is to create custom music, arrangements, remixes, etc. that are timeless and limitless. We are producing music for movement. We want to do songs for not only ballroom, but also ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and more. We are digitally viable through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon right now. Also, we will be shooting our first, world premier video in March. It will feature Bruno Mars’ song, “When I Was Your Man.” It will feature many different styles of dancers. It has been arranged as a Viennese waltz and a female vocalist, which puts a new twist on this popular song, a twist that we had to change the name, “When YOU were MY man!”
FB: Wow, I don’t know if all our readers are familiar with this song by Bruno Mars, but if you are, then you know that this is very different than the original version. I will be eagerly waiting to see this video! Thank you, Brent, for taking time out of your busy and demanding schedule to do this interview with the Fordney Foundation. I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about the personable and talented Brent Thomas Mills and the extraordinary things he and his crew can create. I also hope you can spread the word on behalf of Brent Thomas Mills and the Fordney Foundation, just how unique and exciting The Ladies Of Ballroom – Volume 1 compilation will be. A very worthwhile cause to donate to, that gives back to our dance industry and pays for itself! Also, if you know anyone who would like to become part of the Ladies Of Ballroom project, please do not hesitate to contact Brent directly. Here is one of my favorite videos of Brent’s because he incorporates his fabulous music with this impressive art.
We included a demo video that we would like to share with you, highlighting some of the music in a little “medley” presentation of Brent and his team currently worked on. You can watch/listen here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/p1n7674wjw2l615/CollageMusicMills2017.mp4?dl=0 Also, enjoy this fun up “BEAT” video of Brent rocking out featured on Facebook.