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Name: Trey Mills
For years he’s been overshadowed by his Grammy and Juno-nominated work. At times he garnered those nominations for his writing talents, and at others for his abilities as a production artist, including music mastering credits for Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men and Pat Metheny.
But it was still a challenge for Owen Sound native Trey Mills to pool together funds to finance his first CD. So he did what many passionate, independent artists do: He produced the album, which is called Athabasca, himself.
Realizing his dream entailed swiping both the credit card and the friendship card. Athabasca has contributions from members of the Philosopher Kings, the Canadian Brass, film composer Christopher Dedrick, and mix engineer Ken Lewis of John Legend and Kanye West fame. “It was like giving birth. I’ve never felt more alive,” says Mills of the experience.
Universal Music Canada subsequently hopped on board, but only as a distributor. “I’m happy they’re putting my CD on the shelves, but most happy that they weren’t able to tell me what kind of record to make,” says Mills. “The major labels ruin many artists by interfering in the creative process.”
Mills’ creativity has spawned what you’d expect from a self-described “piano-playing/singer/ songwriter/sometimes- rocker.” Musically, he follows in the tradition of fellow Canadian singer/ songwriters like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, as exemplified by his lead single, Saving Me.
Vocally, he’s been compared to Snow Patrol, Damien Rice, James Blunt and Chris Martin, though these ears detect a hint of a young, earnest Bono infused with, dare I say it, a folkish twang (listen to the way he enunciates his “Rs” on Athabasca).
“Athabasca is a beautiful little town north of Edmonton,” explains Mills. “I sing about it like she’s my dream girl,” though his real dream girl, I assume from reading the liner notes, is a gal named Carley.
His sound is arguably at odds with his camera-friendly looks, a matter to which he seems to have given some thought. “I don’t want anyone to judge my music based on my appearance,” he says. That explains the CD cover: Art displaces pop poster boy.
So far that hasn’t hampered sales, which have climbed across Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and North America. Mills is currently plugging Athabasca across the prairies. Check out myspace.com/treymills.
An award-winning and multi-faceted media personality, Lawrence's career spans journalism, television and public relations. Visit lawrence-chau.com for more buzz.