Studio Session: “Lucid Dreams” Producer Nick Mira Is Next Up for Internet Money
Nick Mira hasn't been around all that long, but he's already made a big-time impression. One year removed from gaining his first major placement as a producer (XXXTentacion's "Fuck Love" featuring Trippie Redd), the newly minted 18-year-old is looking at the fruits of his labor.
As one part of L.A.-based producer collective Internet Money, Mira has more than done his part to bolster the Taz Taylor-founded group. Since last summer, "Lucid Dreams," which is a track he helped produce for Juice Wrld around that same time, has peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Over the last few months, "All Girls Are the Same" and "Lean With Me," two other tracks produced by Mira, have also made a home for themselves on the chart. In other words, Mira is on the rise, and he's nowhere near complacent.
"I definitely wanna see a Grammy some day," the young producer says while sitting back in XXL's Manhattan office. He speaks on his sound, producing "Lucid Dreams," life in Internet Money, his musical influences and more.
XXL: You've been with Internet Money for a few years, so you pretty much jumped to the big leagues from day one. When then did you decide that you wanted to be a producer for a living?
Nick Mira: I got into making beats when I was 13. That was my day—I did that from the beginning of the day till the end of the day, the whole year round. And then I learned about how you can make that into a career, how you can make money off it. And then I just got even more invested in it. So I'd say I was 14, 15. I just working even harder because I knew that I have something to work for now instead of just for fun.
For someone who has never heard your music: What does a beat from Nick Mira sound like?
Whenever someone asks me that, I say melodic, 'cause I don't like beats that are solely just based on drums. I like making good songs and good music—not just good beats. So melody, first off, and then half of my beats are ambient. Really spacious so you really feel it more. Aside from that, I change up a lot my stuff drum-wise. I change up my patterns. So, it's hard to put in a direct box, but it's just melodic.
The ambient feeling. Your beats have a dreamy quality.
Yeah, some people also say it's melancholic. A lot of my melodies and have that sort of emo feeling. They use that because I have a lot of ties listening to alternative rock and post-hardcore. Those were the main things I listened to before hip-hop.
Who were some artists or producers that influenced your sound growing up?
It's really hard for me to say producers, because when I got into making beats I was never, like, solely looking at certain producers. I was just looking at videos. I can say I watched videos of Cardiak Flatline. That was like the main person I watched on YouTube make beats. I learned a lot from him. Lex Luger, obviously. Shawty Redd. And then you have the obvious, like everybody's influences, Kanye, Timbaland and Pharrell. Especially Pharrell and Timbaland, coming from the V-A.
So you love that Missy and Timbo stuff back in the day?
I had to go back and listen to [them] myself because I never grew up around that. So I had to learn about it. I like a lot of Pharrell, Clipse.
How much had you produced before you linked with Taz and Internet Money?
As far as songs, placement wise, I didn't have any songs out aside from just random SoundCloud artists, because I was selling my beats online, on YouTube. On there I would make money just selling simple beats for $30, $50, $100. Then when I was 16 and 17—actually 17—my first major placement was XXXTentacion, Trippie Redd, "Fuck Love." And coincidentally, that was my 17th birthday and the album is [called] 17.
Since we're on that topic—how did XXXTentacion's 17 song, "Fuck Love" come together?
Me and Taz had sampled a melody and it was basically structured into a whole song. We had it for sale online. Somehow, someway, it got into the hands of another producer, Beats By Dex, who also produced on the track. And then they gave it to Trippie Redd and then Trippie Redd gave it to X.
How did "Lucid Dreams" come together?
"Lucid Dreams" came together just like any other song we had. Me and Sidepce, the other producer who worked with Juice along with me. We would just send [Juice] beat packs. And then one day I say [to Juice], "Yo, I got this crazy interpolation of a sample," and I'm like, "You should hear it." So I texted it to him and a week later he sent the song back. I'm like, "This is cool, what have you got else?" And then a couple of days later, I'm just sitting playing it over and over and over, back to back to back. A couple of weeks later he puts it on his 999 tape that he dropped on SoundCloud and then it gained a lot of traction.
It uses the same Sting sample ("Shape of My Heart") that Nas used for "The Message." Did you know that Nas had used it for his song before you guys made "Lucid Dreams"?
I had heard it before, but I didn't think about it when I was making it. Then, after it came out, everyone was like, "Yo, you stole it from Nas' 'The Message.'" And it's been sampled other ways. I didn't even sample the actual original audio. I replayed the notes and everything so, it's different but it's obviously the same, you know, song.
You're getting your production credits up a lot. Which of the beats you've made is your favorite?
Before "Lucid Dreams" gained the traction that it made now, that was always my favorite song that I've ever made just because it was such a good song. But now that it's like, as big as it is, it's kinda hard for me to say it's my favorite just 'cause it's the biggest. "Fuck Love," I love that song too. I would just play that song back to back to back to back, day after day listening to that beat and the song. "Lean With Me,"I like the beat a lot on that because it's a lot of beats that I'd give to Juice that are live guitar that I play myself and that one's just crazy to hear on the large scale that it is. "Strictly Business" with Lil Skies.
So talk a little bit about Internet Money. What does a typical day at the Internet Money crib look like?
First off, you wake up, and the first thing you hear when you wake up is like four different speakers from around the house playing music while you're in the shower. Someone making beats as loud as they can be. Then you go into the living room, there's a studio set up there in the corner.
You go downstairs, people in the bedrooms cooking up. There's always somebody working. But then it's also like a home, so it's also you're really comfortable in what you're doing. It's like you're at your house. You can go and eat breakfast at your table and someone's over there making a beat.
It never becomes draining being surrounded by music 24/7?
Sometimes you might want a break for your ears, but you can step outside. It's not like every single room in the house at the same time is doing something. It'll be like dispersed.
What's it like being in high school and having a top five record in the Billboard Hot 100 chart?
It's even funnier with "Lucid Dreams" because "Lucid Dreams" had been out for almost a year. It already had like half a million plays on SoundCloud, but it didn't get on the radio and it wasn't on Billboard yet. It was kinda funny because that whole time I could see what it was like when ["Lucid Dreams"] wasn't around. I go to school, people are playing it in their cars, in the parking lot, people are driving away and they're playing it. It's just funny.
How aware of the fact that you produced that song were your classmates?
I'm not like, "Oh, I did this, I did that." But the people that know, they know, and they tell people, word of mouth.
How do you manage being a producer with being a student?
I'd say the main thing is that i never drowned myself in school trying to go to Harvard. I know I'm not going to become a doctor or lawyer or anything so I know I don't need to go over the requirements that they need me to do. I've always [been] A-B honor roll. I've just done my work at school at my classes so as soon as I get home from school I have all that time till the next day to just work.
Sounds like you've got a grip on it. Have you thought about what you'd major in if you went to college?
I thought about what I wouldn't major in, which is music. I feel like in college what they teach you for music—I feel like it should just come naturally. It's sort of different, you have to learn your own ways. I don't see someone just going to a place, they teach you some formula, how to do certain things in music. In music, there's no rules. There's no guidelines.
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