Nearly a decade into his career, Armenian-born Tigran Mkhitaryan, aka Mimosa, is settling into his own style, one that pulls elements from multiple genres, from grimy bass lines to smoothed-out hip-hop beats. With his latest album, Future Trill, Mimosa is building a brand that defies categorization. In advance of his show this Saturday, December 14, at the Fillmore Auditorium, we spoke with the 25-year-old producer/DJ about the struggles he's overcome in his life, including experiencing homelessness as a child, to get to where he is today.
Westword:What's it like preparing mentally to be on tour with more than thirty stops?
Mimosa:It's easy. I've been brought up in this kind of environment since I was a baby. My mom was a musician, and I was on tour with her when she was pregnant with me, so it's just natural and in my genes.
Do you prefer touring to working in the studio full-time?
They are each cool in their own right and own respect. I love working in the studio and making music. That's my passion. I love sharing it with people. I can't say I prefer one to the other, but if I had to choose one, I'd say producing music. That's the ultimate release for me to be able to create and express that, and express what I'm feeling at that time and share that with people. I want to connect those feelings with people.
With FutureTrill coming out recently, what were you feeling at that time? It seems a little more minimalist than your earlier work.
I wouldn't say it's more minimal, but I guess it depends on what track you are talking about. I always say that FutureTrill is more of a brand than any type of music. It has some minimal music to the raging party. It's everything I do. It's a brand. It's something I created so I wouldn't have to be categorized.
Comparing it to 58 Degrees and Sanctuary, those albums just felt more about the party. Is that where you were in your life, then?
To me, music is an expression of where I'm at in my life. At that point in my life, I was partying and enjoying tour life, and traveling around. That was just kind of the collective experience for that time in my life. I guess now I am not old by any means. I'm 25, but I'm definitely settling down and maturing, and I have a different understanding of life.
You are constantly asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and now I find myself in a position where I am a lot more focused and comfortable with where I'm at. I'm not looking for anyone's approval -- I'm just doing what I love. I hope people pick up on that. I trust that if you stay true to what you do, it's all going to work out.
What would say is the direction you are moving in now?
I never move in any direction. I just make what I feel. Every album has an ambient track. There is a difference between my live shows and my albums. My albums are more of an experience that you can listen to in your car, or in your house, or a camping experience. Whatever it is. The shows have that feeling, but kids are there to have fun and party, and you need to keep that in mind, and keep that hyphy energy. The albums are more chill, but they have their moments of peaks, but they are two different forms of art.
Where are you personally with your production? What are you trying to say with your albums?
I'm just trying to take whatever obstacles that the universe has placed in front of me and doing the best I can to show that.
What kind of obstacles are those?
It could be anything. Heartache, or whatever the universe puts in front of me. Every one brings a different challenge -- a different piece of the puzzle -- and when you can relate that energy to people, it's great. That's a great thing. Once again, I'm just blessed to be able to do what I do and have people reciprocating.
Are those struggles that you've encountered in the past year?
I mean, I come from humble beginnings. I grew up with a single mom. I'm an immigrant. I was born in Armenia. I was homeless for most of my childhood. I didn't have anybody to buy me a laptop or anything like that. Me and my mom were moving from house to house. She met -- thank god -- she connected with this awesome guy who worked at NASA and who was a computer scientist. I asked him if he could borrow some music software, and I am really thankful he was able to do that.
Once he did that, I started making music on my own when I was fifteen, and burning CDs and playing them for my friends. Once I started doing that and making money, I turned eighteen and moved out. It took off from there. I followed my heart, and it led me where I am today. I don't come from a rich family. I don't have anyone that invested in my business. It's all me.
As you are creating more, are you facing those struggles and overcoming them?
Through the music, I am trying to do just that, especially with the grimier beats. If I am feeling something negative, I will come in and add the heavy beats and the bass lines. You have those frat kids that come to a party, and they are all agro- and raging it, and everyone's has their thing going on. We feel that negative energy. That's where the heavy bass lines and grime comes in. Then you mix in a beautiful melody on top of that, and all of the sudden, you have this totally different vibe. That's beautiful art, right there.
Is that your ultimate goal?
I'm 25, bro. I don't have an ultimate goal. I'm just doing what I love, and following my heart. My goal is to do what I love and spread good energy.