In Conversation With Millbrook

Born and bred in Luxembourg’s rich cultural heritage and then moving to Berlin’s vibrant music scene, Millbrook’s proficiency lies in transforming the beauty of his roots into sublime aural experiences. Infusing the natural power of drum & bass with his penchant for the dancefloor, Millbrook has racked up a catalogue that is unique to his own sonic identity. 

It all began in 2019 when Viper Recordings’ Futurebound brought Millbrook on to the label for two stunning singles, and with just his first release, we witnessed the sheer depth his music possessed. Since then, Millbrook has released his forward-thinking material on some of the most revered labels drum & bass has on offer. 

The last couple of years have seen Millbrook develop a strong relationship with Dutch imprint High Tea Music, which includes playing shows alongside the High Tea crew, with the latest one being at the tail end of June. Now as the label edges closer to its debut outing at DnB’s annual gathering at Let It Roll, High Tea Music have dropped a selection of tunes on the ‘Let Tea Roll’ EP in anticipation of the festival, and Millbrook is at the forefront of the label’s journey with a stunning collaboration called ‘Ready To Lose’ featuring German producer Blooom and Austrian vocalist Madishu.

After delivering yet another number that exemplifies his trademark sound, we had a candid chat with Millbrook about his latest release, his love for collaborations, and some lesser-known details about the eclectic DJ and producer.

High Tea Music goes to Let It Roll for the first time and you’ve brewed up a particularly hot one with ‘Ready To Lose’ for its debut. How did it come about?

It all happened quite fast actually. I had been playing on a few High Tea events in the past year which has always been fun and when the opportunity came up to play at their stage at Let It Roll this year it seemed like a fun idea to produce a track for their label to go alongside that. Both me and Blooom had plans to create something for High Tea so we decided to join forces for this project as we are both playing at LIR this year.

The shapeshifting nature of the tune makes it an intriguing listen. Talk us through the creative process ‘Ready To Lose’ went through.

The track started off as a rough idea Blooom had sent over. There was something about the rough buildup it had from the very start which got me interested in developing the idea further. The raw vocals of Madishu on the initial version already had this raw energy and emotion which inspired me heavily. Both me and Blooom had been listening to the recent Skrillex albums while producing this record, which has certainly left an imprint on the sonics of ‘Ready To Lose’. And we absolutely love that!

While yours and Blooom’s styles blend seamlessly, Madishu’s radiant vocals make the offering an emotional expedition. What was your experience working together on the tune?

This journey was certainly an interesting one. Blooom, Madishu, and myself all have a very strong vision for our sound each, so finding that line, that middle ground between all of it, was a real challenge! Ultimately, I think we found a really great balance, that has led all of us to a place where we are incredibly proud of the result which I think portrays a ‘picture’ in which all our sounds can shine through while having merged together at the same time.

Ever since your debut, it is evident that you are passionate about collaborations. What are your thoughts on it?

Actually, I find collaborations extremely challenging – as far as producer-to-producer collaborations go. I mostly prefer working with vocalists, which I would call collaborations as well, which always helps me stay inspired and drives my sound forward. Not being a singer myself, working with other people who are just extends my toolkit to infinity and adds exactly what I am missing in my sound. As I mentioned earlier already, I always have a very strong vision for where I’m going with an instrumental as a producer, and that has so far best been archived solo! However, I do intend to collaborate with more producers, but it just has to be a really good fit.

Born and bred in Luxembourg, then moving to Berlin; what was your first encounter with drum & bass, and how influential was the city in your journey as a DJ and producer?

My first encounter with Drum & Bass music happened quite organically and was a result of me finding out about UKF Dubstep when I was 16. I initially didn’t know the terms and genres but eventually caught up to what it was when I was listening to it more and more. I certainly fell in love with it! Drum & Bass in Luxembourg grew as a scene, pretty much at the same time my love for it grew when I first found out about it. While there had been some underground events prior to me finding out about the genre, more and more parties would emerge over the years which helped the genre grow in Luxembourg and also created a long-lasting community and row of events that helped me make a name for myself.

Dancefloor leaning with a gritty edge to the atmospheric offerings that we’ve seen in your recent releases; you’ve consistently evolved your sonic expression. How would you like to describe the progressions your music has gone through?

To be honest, it kind of just happens over the years whether you want it or not. Mostly though, the more I let go from my anxiety of how people might perceive me if I change, the more I evolved as an artist. I also have somewhat of a rule I set myself up with since I started the name Millbrook, which basically says ‘don’t repeat yourself’ – which essentially means that I try to move forward and not lean too much on sounds and tracks that have worked for me before, and basically take more risks and try to re-invent myself from time to time. I think that’s the secret to longevity in any creative career path.

We’ve also read that you make your own release artworks as well. Can you tell us more about it?

Yes, I do! Many years before I got in touch with music production, I fell in love with video editing, visual effects work, and 3D design most of all. I would model 3D objects for years, develop some games for the app store, and eventually study graphic design in Luxembourg and Berlin at some later point in my life. I eventually connected that past to my present future as a music producer and tried to add some originality to my brand, which also helped me paint a full ‘picture’ (pun intended) of my vision as an artist.

What was the pivotal moment in making the move from your Vacuum alias to Millbrook?

I guess I just needed a new start, that would at least be the short answer to that question. The truth is, I just grew out of the name at a certain point. Vacuum is the name I had for quite a few years, cutting my teeth in the music industry, and understanding the workflow of producing and releasing music in this industry. It was at that moment that I had been hit up by Ray, my manager, who I still work with to this day, my partner in crime in all of this. Together with him, we conceptualized ideas for future projects, and the first step was creating a new name, taking what I learned as Vacuum, combining it with his industry experience, and shoot for the stars pretty much!

Who had the most significant influence on your decision to pursue a career in music production?

It would be difficult for me to mention a person or an artist in that regard as I found the actual producing intriguing as a hobby itself once I came across it. I’ve always been somewhat of an obsessive character when it came to anything trendy I could find on YouTube as a child. From building crazy mechanical Lego sculptures to Fingerskating, Cup Stacking, and solving Rubiks Cubes, I just kinda moved from one thing to another growing up – and eventually landed at the discovery of music production. Music production was different however, as previously everything I had been obsessed about was isolating me more from people, whereas music production had this appeal to my social environment, and actually became kind of a cool thing for people around me, which was refreshing, and I liked it and stuck with it for the pure love for it until this day.

How is the rest of the year looking like for Millbrook?

To be honest… I don’t know. I’m someone who just works from project to project. It’s what keeps me on my toes. I tend to have conceptual ideas for projects these days and jump from thing to thing and to whatever I feel like at the moment. I’m kind of impulsive in that sense. I’m at a place now where I’m still thinking about the next steps in my music career, and it’s to a degree still an unknown for me, but a very exciting unknown and I’m going to take it one step at a time!

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