Austin Millz | In Through the Nose, Out Through the Mouth

Via Issue 187, The Critical Mass Issue!

Written by

Liam Kozak

Photographed by

Damien Fry

Styled by

EJ Ellison

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MONCLER X ALICIA KEYS jacket, pants, hat and shoes, SUSS sweater, MEJURI necklaces, and DIOR ring.

It’s hard to think of Austin Millz in an office setting. His Harlem-soaked debonair attitude dripping off a starched button-down, forming puddles of swag and steeze on a carpeted floor in some cubicle...Yet it was under these fluorescent linear light bulbs where Austin was faced with a decision to make, and one that sounds all too familiar: grind through grunt work for that weekly paycheck or pursue your passion and invest in yourself. “Honestly it was just taking a leap of faith and just [saying], ‘You know what? It’s either now or never,” Austin confesses.“You gotta take that leap of faith to know what’s on the other side. It’s cool to sometimes be safe, but I think if you have the opportunity to take the risk...always go for it.” 

Growing up in Harlem, Austin was surrounded by music everywhere—from Duke Ellington to A$AP Mob, Louis Armstrong to Cam’ron—the local heroes serve as a constant reminder of the neighborhood’s hard-earned prestige. Austin didn’t truly find his affinity for music until high school, though. As a teenager, he played a lot of video games until he found the music software FruityLoops, and started chopping up samples and cranking out beats. It was only natural that his music would begin to embody “the flamboyancy, the flair, the swag, the everything” of his environment. The product of his effort is hard to argue with. In 2016, he threw himself headfirst into the fray—going from one DJ booth in New York to the next, ultimately coming to a head with Austin DJing Beyoncé’s Homecoming Coachella event. 

His 2019 offering “Bad Behavior” featuring Remi Wolf is a prime example of his refusal to self-conform. The song starts out with a mellow house vibe, supplemented by a funky bassline that remains strong but not overpowering. The track builds with unsuspecting claps until it drops, taking you to a mental Ibiza, head bobbing unaccompanied by thoughts while Remi swings sweetly over it. Likewise, Austin’s powerful remix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” contorts the song into an uptempo masterpiece—cerebral in execution, while retaining the brawn required to grab you by the nape and swing your head back and forth. Austin’s remixes have since gained widespread acclaim, and on the remix process, he says, “It’s really like being a surgeon, like really taking something and making it your own.”

MONCLER X ALICIA KEYS jacket, pants, hat, SUSS sweater, MEJURI necklaces, and DIOR ring.
FENDI vest, pants, and bag ,HERMÈS shirt, MEJURI necklace and rings, and GENTLE MONSTER sunglasses.

And that he does. Austin’s unique sound is reflected even more in his original music, which he collaborates with a diverse array of artists to produce. “I’m really intentional about my original music because it’s something that’s gonna live forever,” he says. “Usually my collaborators are somebody that I’m a fan of [and] generally these artists have never crossed over to the dance world or did something similar to my vibe. So I love that challenge... collaborating and working with these artists and really taking them into my world, while they give me their life and their story and their journey, and they’re putting it into the music. I want people to come out having a good sense of warmth. I have warmth, texture, and I want my music to also. My music sounds rich, just like rich... cloth. Like velvet.”

Euphoria was both a psychological and emotional ambition when conceptualizing upcoming EP, Breathwork. Austin found himself drawn to the idea that breathwork, something that only requires a functioning set of lungs, could produce the feeling. But he wants to stretch the idea even further. “Usually breath-work is seen in terms of like meditation and like some chill vibes, but I’m trying to add a new connotation to it,” he says, “For me, it really represents the connection between breath, rhythm, the inner self and music. I love the idea that breathwork allows you to enter a state of euphoria and serenity. I think that’s kinda’ the perfect way I want to describe my music.” The EP will include Austin’s collaborations, with Sabrina Claudio on the catchy house track “Inhale/Exhale,” and with Estelle on the funk-infused dancefloor pop song “Freeway,” bringing the energies of dance music, soul, and R&B together to bring fresh air to the scene. The Breathwork Tour began in April. 

So as you clock into your nine-to-five shift on a Monday morning, with your temper reaching critical mass, take a page from overall vibe-polymath Austin Millz...let it out through your nose. Close your eyes, try to hypnotize and trick your body with your body. Hold it in your chest. Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Then out. You never know what might come next.

HERMÈS jacket and shirt, DIOR MEN ring, and JAEGER-LECOULTRE watch.

Photographed by Damien Fry

Written by Liam Kozak

Styled by EJ Ellison

Groomer: Sophia Porter for Exclusive Artists using Canviiy

Photo Assistant: Sebastian Romero

Stylist Assistant: Mariamu Fundi

Production Assistant: McKenna Matus

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The Critical Mass Issue, Austin Millz, Fendi, Hermès, Moncler x Alicia Keys, Dior, Mejuri, Gentle Monster, SUSS, JAEGER-LECOULTRE, EJ Ellison, Damien Fry, Liam Kozak