This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.
If we had to compress 2016's music so far down to just two releases, the chances are we’d land on Rihanna’s Anti and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. Twenty-year-old beatmaker Mitus was on both of them.
As with both RiRi and Yeezy, the scope of a major album's production team gets more ambitious with every release. You only need to consider Yeezus, which paired Daft Punk alongside Arca, to get a feel for the constant search for curveballs. Anti and TLOP have proven no exceptions to this rule. While heavy-hitters like Timbaland and Madlib feature, the presence of more low-key names like scum or Sinjin Hawke are testament to how the blockbuster record has become a testing ground for young and emerging production talents.
You’d be forgiven for not necessarily recognising the name, Mitus—he currently has 160 followers on Soundcloud—but the 20-year-old American is behind the beats on both Rihanna’s “Goodnight Gotham” and Kanye’s “FML,” making him responsible for more late-night feels than a year’s worth of Titanic re-runs. His sound is full of echoing space, charred rattles, and distorted crescendos. In effect, it sounds like he makes beats, then stamps on them, sets them on fire, and then submits the smoky remains.
His career to date has been one of jaw-dropping level ups. The first beat he ever sold was to Rihanna, and the first professional studio he ever walked into was with Kanye. In fact, his career is moving so quickly that even in the couple of days that have elapsed since us speaking to him, he’s emailed to say he’s just signed a five-song deal with G.O.O.D. Music.
Such is the relative newness of all this for Mitus, he also spoke during our interview with the freedom of someone who hasn’t been press trained to within an inch of personality erasure; giving me more straight information and honest opinion in one interview than the last ten times I’ve talked to producers.
So, since it's become such a time to alive for the young beatmaker, we hit him up on the phone to find out just how it’s all gone down.
Noisey: Yo Mitus. It’s been a pretty wild couple of months for you we’re guessing?
Mitus: Yeah you can say that!
How does it feel to be on the biggest releases of 2016 so far?
It feels pretty fucking awesome. I mean, obviously, they are two of the most anticipated releases of the year so it’s amazing to have my name up there. Especially when you look at some of the other names in the credits, legends like Rick Rubin.
When did you first start production?
When I was 13. It’s kinda weird but it sort of developed out of programming, making software and little applications. I downloaded a demo of FL studio and messed around with it, made something, and posted it online. People were really into it, so I started taking it more seriously. I got a manager when I was 15 and that’s how it started. I actually feel like I’m 30 haha—even though I’m 20. It’s been a long road.
How did your Rihanna collab come about?
It was quite weird to be honest. I’d actually never sold a beat before, so the first beat I ever sold was to Rihanna. Which is kinda crazy. It was for $18,000. Prior to that, I couldn’t sell one for $100. I had signed a deal when I was 18 and my publicist was going into the studio with Rihanna so played them to her. A few months later, she had bought the first track off of me. She invited me to the studio and we worked together.
How was it working with Rihanna?
Dude she is the nicest person I’ve ever met. She is super chill.
How long ago was this?
He played her the tracks in June 2014 and I finally got in the studio with her in January 2015.
How did you cope entering rooms with so many of your idols/massive producers?
It was interesting. The first time I worked with Rihanna, I walked in there and thankfully she was very welcoming—but it was nerve-wracking at first. Kanye then showed up later. It was weird just taking it all in, but then after that, the next Rihanna session and the one with Kanye, I got used to it. Nerve-wracking but fun nonetheless.
And then you worked with Kanye? How did that happen?
The first song I did for Rihanna was “Mitus Touch.” You might remember that—people were asking why it was spelt wrong but it’s because it was named after me. So, that happened because she’d originally wanted that for her album and Kanye had written most of it. That’s how Kanye got wind of my stuff, by writing over it for Rihanna. After that I started sending stuff to his label because they’d asked for it. Then it was supposed to be on his album, but I don’t know what happened to it in the end.
So, what about working on “FML”?
That weird sound you hear through most of the song is mine, the bassline, the snare. Kanye put the sample at the end. That song was completely different before. The way he works is super interesting. He’ll make four or five versions of any song, each with completely different beats. At the last minute, my beat made it.
Did you get in the studio with him much?
I got in the studio with him twice, once with Rihanna, and another time I went to his house and spent 9 or ten hours working which was pretty dope.
What was it like seeing him work?
It was awesome. I’m surprised I wasn’t more nervous. To be able to pause for a second and just look at him playing was so awesome. He’s my idol. I still haven’t gotten over it to be honest. He’s so hands on. Nobody does anything for him. I’ve been in the studio with major producers before and they would have engineers do everything for them, but he does it all himself. It’s pretty dope.
Did you get to hang out as well?
We took a break once, and this dude came in with a movie and says “We’re going to watch this,” and they put it on this huge-ass television. It was The Hateful 8 before it had been released. I liked it a lot but I was kind of high at the time!
What would you class as the dopest moment of the past couple of years?
It’s got to be the first time I got in the studio with Rihanna. We’re playing my beat and Kanye just comes out of nowhere and starts dancing. You know that famous Yeezy dance that he does? He just starts doing that out of nowhere. I’m going crazy in my mind, but trying to compose myself. I didn’t even know he was going to be there. I will never forget that.
Incredible. Who are you lining up to work with next?
I’ve been doing some stuff for Lorde, I’ve been talking to Lady Gaga’s label, and Beyonce—I’m pretty sure she has something of mine on hold. It’s kind of weird though, because so many of my beats are just floating around and I know different people have them but I’m not sure who has what. I’m just trying to get them to the best people.
That’s a pretty amazing list! Are you planning some solo stuff too?
Definitely. I plan to release an EP later this year. I’ve uploaded some stuff to my Soundcloud and people seem to be loving it. It’s different to my collaboration stuff but I’m keen to get my sound out there. I’m trying to juggle my work with other people, while also being my own artist and releasing my own EP. I would expect it late this year, just to be safe.
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