Raised in Bowling Green, singer-songwriter Mills found his way to Los Angeles in 2019 and refined an R&B and pop music vibe rooted in the diversity and ingenuity of one of Kentucky’s oldest cities.
Tagged as “promising” and “heartfelt” by Ones to Watch in 2019, Mills has been climbing the music scene for a few years. After accompanying ROLE MODEL on tour in 2019 and being featured on Justin Bieber’s Instagram story in 2020, Mills appears set for a breakout in 2021.
Mills Turner, who goes by Mills when writing, recording and performing, grew up in Bowling Green and graduated from Bowling Green High School in 2018 after playing football and lacrosse for the school.
Long before graduating from BGHS, Mills found an interest in music after joining choir in the seventh grade.
“I was like 13 years old, and I kind of just joined (choir) to get an easy ‘A’ and goof off and make people laugh and not really try to sing,” Mills said. “Once I actually tried to sing, I fell in love with it. I got into performing and singing itself, and then I stayed in choir all through school.”
Mills began writing his own songs in his freshman year of high school. After graduation, he moved to Murfreesboro, Tenn., and attended Middle Tennessee State University as a commercial songwriting major for a year.
“I just wanted to give school a try,” Mills said. “I felt like I owed it to my parents. They wanted me to go to school for a year and try it out, and I did. I just found out it wasn’t for me. I wanted to be in the industry and working instead of learning about it.”
While he was in school at MTSU, Mills found time to visit Los Angeles, hoping to make music and put together a project before returning to school. After playing a show in Los Angeles, Mills was on his way to a record deal with Keep Cool/RCA Records.
“I ended up playing a show out here,” Mills said. “It caught the attention of some people that were well-respected in the music industry, and it just made sense to stop going to school and pursue this full time.”
Mills solidified his record deal with Keep Cool/RCA Records in August after a year and a half of living in Los Angeles.
RCA Records describes Mills’ songwriting as “poetic storytelling” with a melodic glimpse into “the 1970s era of Laurel Canyon.” Mills’ label calls him a “troubadour for the modern age,” according to a press release.
Mills’ second EP, “Train of Thoughts” is set to release in April. The EP, his first project released under a record deal, features songs that Mills said he is really excited about.
“I love all my music,” Mills said. “It’s like picking a favorite kid because there’s all these different moments in my life that I’m trying to synchronize into one song, but the one I’m most excited about releasing is ‘Creations.’ ”
“Creations” is an anthem for humans and the acceptance of other humans as they are, Mills said.
“Slide Thru,” another song from Mills’ upcoming EP, releases Tuesday. The first song from the upcoming EP, “Hollow,” was released in January and is more acoustic than the upcoming single, Mills said.
“ ‘Slide Thru’ is a feel good, R&B, pop song, but the lyrics are not orthodox for that style,” Mills said. “I feel like I’m creating my own lane of songwriting in this vein of music, and I feel like this is a good introduction to that.”
The first EP that Mills released, “Clashing Thoughts,” was produced independently and featured singles like “Lovely” and “Call It a Night.” The EP makes references to the “water tower town” where Mills was raised.
Regardless of the city where the music was produced, Mills’ music has strong connections to his childhood and teenage years in Bowling Green, he said.
“It’s an uplifting place,” Mills said. “The connections and relationships I’ve made my whole life and the lessons I’ve learned, that’s going to naturally find its way into my music.”
Most of Mills’ family still lives in Bowling Green, including his parents and one of his older brothers. His other older brother lives in Nashville and they make music together when Mills comes to town, he said.
“I just want them to know that I love them and to thank them for supporting me and getting me to where I am because they’re responsible for all of this as well,” Mills said.