Mr Mills is a percussionist, artist, community musician, collaborator, a musical and artistic director. His body of work ranges from Samba percussionist with the group Belfast Carnival Band (1994) to Lead Associate Musician with Drake Music Project Northern Ireland. (2014).
Born in Dungannon, Northern Ireland and attended Queen’s University Belfast receiving a BS Sc in Psychology. In 1994 he volunteered in Carnival production and music, which he has inspired by ever since. After college in 1993 he engaged with Youth Work in Tigers Bay and Community Arts in Ballymurphy. In 1996 he started administration work with the Community Arts Forum, working in Events and Information around and about the newly formed Community Arts scene witnessing the start of the Community Arts initiatives in the post-ceasefire era and the birth of the Cathedral Quarter cultural area in Belfast. While there he attained administration NVQs and a Cultural Diploma in Arts Management 1998 he took up teaching Circus Skills for Streetwise Community Circus attaining and then transferred those workshop skills into community music making. In 2000 he received a Millennium Award for a study of the youth and social aspects of Carnival in Brazil. In the years to follow Designed and delivered carnival and community music with arts organisations with Soundlines, Open Arts, Workers Education Authority, Education & Library Boards across Northern Ireland, Minkey Hill in Derry, Inishowen Carnival, BIFHE’s HND Performing Arts Course guest tutor (2002-2006), Big Telly Theatre, Real Events Management in Cork and in 2004 as Music Director for Beatndrum Carnival Band, a post still held. Performing and work shopping internationally since.
In 2008 he was appointed Artist at the Beat Carnival, busy organising everything from small group community and professional performances to large scale participatory events such as the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Belfast 2011 and percussion director for the Land Of Giants Olympic Legacy event (2012).
Becoming independent in 2012, highlights have included supplied Body & Soul and the Electric Picnic Festivals with pop-up performances (2012-present), produced the Sambanimals performance group (2012-2015), co-founded Maracatu Ilha Brilhante Ireland (2011), Music Director for Heroes of the Hill Dungannon, (Dudance: 2016) and Dhol Belfast (Arts Ekta: 2016-present). Concurrently became an Associate Musician with Drake Music Project Northern Ireland (2013-present), leading their Community Music programmes in the Derry Hub (2016), with Dementia and the Elderly (2018) and the Virtual Reality and Music programmes of (Spring 2018).
2006 he attended the 1st Encontro De Maracatus de Europe, developed Maracatu and traditional drumming in Ireland, attended all the helping to host the same event in 2014. He has been invited twice to perform in the 2008 and 2016 Carnival in Brazil.
I have my roots at the tradition of music, its role in the community and the effect music has on each and every one of us. A community leader in music, respected locally, nationally and internationally. I create art and music to fill public space, capturing the energy and social benefits of community drumming and presenting it professionally and skillfully, conversely I take music technology to its most individual and unique, shaping and creating both sound and ergonomics so that through adaptive technology, everyone can aspire to delight in making music.
What is Important to me.
Respect. For all traditions and cultures for who each effort to enrich their lives makes the world a more colourful place.
To Innovate. Tread first and experiment research and development in defining Community Music.
Bringing people together to make music and meet others who share in the creative sphere.
To facilitate music empowerment. Move yourself to express yourself.
To learn and share. Leave a legacy of knowledge.
Creative and constructive playtime gives us a learning environment and where fun is an asset.