It isn’t every day you go from your small West London town to recording in the studio with one of the brightest stars from Atlanta. For 23-year-old singer Melissa Sarah Griffiths, better known as Millie Go Lightly, a coincidence with a shared beat landed her on Young Thug’s “singing album,” Beautiful Thugger Girls.
When working with a star who shines as bright as Thug it isn’t easy to showcase your own light. This is especially true when you’re a relatively unknown artist appearing on one of the most anticipated rap projects of the year. On June 16, fans will get to decide if Thug and Millie have the type of chemistry it takes to quiet a sea of doubters, skeptical of everything ranging from Thug’s commercial viability to his ability to pull off a country song.
Over the phone, Millie told Complex how she got her start in music, what it’s like to work with Young Thug, and her plans for the future.
You can download Beautiful Thugger Girls now on iTunes or stream it on Apple Music.
How did you first get into music?
I started singing when I was about six or seven. Then one day my mum heard me singing Whitney Houston and decided that she thought I was ok at it. It’s like all kids went to stage classes that kids go to, drama classes on the weekend and I just really loved it. Then I started to write my own songs at fourteen and play the guitar.
E.B.B.T.G pic.twitter.com/jnzBsWd7YP— Young Thug ひ (@youngthug) June 13, 2017
How did “Family Don’t Matter” come together?
I had been doing some work with Wheezy who works with Thug. We basically both ended up with the same beat from Wheezy completely accidentally. It was a real serendipitous event. We had no idea.
I wrote a song called “Medicine” to that beat. Somebody in Thug’s team was like “let me hear Millie’s music cause I’ve never heard it.” They’ve met me a million times, but half had never heard my music. They pull up the private link I had been sharing around the group. The first song was “Medicine.” They were like “oh my god that’s the beat.” We realized we both had written a song on the same beat. Then they called me on Saturday because he wanted to use it for the album.
So we basically ended up splitting the song down the middle. He’s got half and I have half. Then he wrote parts that he wanted me to sing. It was weird, because he had me in mind for that song anyway to sing the hook. So when he found out I had written a song to it, he allowed me to put my verses on it too, which was so nice of him. He didn’t have to do that.
You sang some lyrics Young Thug wrote for you?
He had written it for him, they're relevant to him, the words. He had me in mind to sing it. He was so patient with me. Went through everything line by line. Explained everything in adequate detail. Obviously, some of the things that he’s going to say are not things that are going to pop into my head. He’s Young Thug. It took me a couple of times to get it right though. He would stop me and correct me.
What was the chemistry with Thug like?
His manager described it as like brother and sister. Immediately the chemistry was there. Sometimes it isn’t there to be honest when you work with people. I was so fortunate that he was so patient. I wasn’t expected him too, but he ended up singing my part as well on the end, which was crazy. To hear him singing my lyrics as well was just unbelievable.
How did the second song come about?
The first night I went into the studio we didn’t work on “Family Don’t Matter.” I just played him what I had done. I was so tired, and he said “There’s another song that I want you to do. I’ve written it. All you need to do is sing it.” I said OK. Obviously, we had to adjust a few of the lyrics to make them a little more suitable for someone like me to sing them.
He was great. He thinks on the spot; he’s so ad hoc. He just adjusts everything. He said “Millie this is what I want you to say.” I went in there and did that. Then he said “What do you want to do now?” I said I’ll do a couple of backing vocals, a couple of adlibs, I’ll do your parts and then he said “Now I’d like you to sing the second verse and this is how I want you to sing it.” And by that point I could tell he’s so meticulous. He’s a perfectionist. Where as before I was like I’ll sing the whole thing. I said to the engineer “No let’s do it line by line. I need to get it exactly how Jeff sings it.” So I can match the vocal exactly. He’ll pick up on it. There’s no point. I’ll come out and he’ll be like “Millie go back in.”
Besides working with Thug you’ve also featured on P-Lo’s latest album. How did that come about?
We met online. I recorded my vocals in the living room here (her mom’s house in London) for his album and sent them over. We met for the first time in London when he came over Kehlani’s tour. So we had actually done the song and the album was processing by the time I met him in real life. We met him again when I was working with Wheezy.
Do you approach a track differently for a trap artist like Thug versus a very Bay influenced artist like P-Lo?
First thing is you have to do your research. So you have to listen to back catalog. I watched a lot of their music videos. Just educate yourself on the artist. Then P-Lo I just said “What do you want it to be about? What do you think I can bring to the project that’s different?” Because he could have picked anyone to do it, so I wanted him to instruct me on what he wanted the content to be. So he would send me piano loops then I came up with the “Hennessy, galaxy” hook. So in essence, he always says to me when he works with me it's just like doing a remix. He’ll send me piano chords. I’ll just do the vocal and send it back. Then he remixes it into the track.
With Thug that was totally different, because we had already written two songs. Then bringing it together, then him teaching me what he wanted me to say for the first part of the song.
You’ve been working with Wheezy who produces for Thug, do you have music coming out with him?
Yes, I do. Wheezy and I first met in December. We did a couple of tracks together. It was almost like a test run, because he didn’t know me. I’m this unknown girl from England. He must’ve been like “What the hell is this?”
I really have a lot of respect for him and a lot of time for him. I think he’s so talented. He’s a really nice guy. We did another three songs about two weeks ago. That will be on the project that I’m putting together. I’ve been making music for years and years. This past year working with Wheezy, working with 808 Mafia, working with London On Da Track it's obviously brought me to a whole other level.
How does it feel coming from a small town in the UK working with an artist like Thug or producers like Wheezy and London On Da Track?
When I was working with Wheezy the second time when I went into the vocal booth I took a minute to look around, because I have my friends Snapchatting me from their desk at work. I can’t think about it when I’m in it, because if I think about it when I’m in it it's distracting. Its when I come home to my normal life it's like it never really happened.
It’s not normal is it? It’s like a lightning bolt hitting you. That’s how it feels. It's a one in a million chance of an artist that you’ve listened to for years and years and then to be...it's such an honor. He’s a true musician. People don’t realize, but he’s so meticulous. He’s so hardworking. He’s so professional. To be in a working environment at this stage in my career with someone like that is really humbling.
The only way to describe him is a genius, his knowledge of vocabulary, the manipulation of words, even how he uses his voice. Me and my boyfriend were sitting there, like, how is he doing this? You just don’t know where it comes from. It’s unbelievable to watch. It really is.
What’s one thing you hope people will take away from your music?
I think I want people to take away that looks can be deceiving. I’m nothing like the music I make. It's a part of me, but it's not what I’m like all the time. I don’t think people will expect Thug to have done a collaboration with somebody like me. I think people can take away from it if it's what you really want to do, do it.
What does it feel like knowing your dreams are almost coming to fruition?
I visualized this as my life, my whole life. So now that it's coming to be, that it's close, it feels like a natural process. I got a degree in Latin. My mom is still hoping I go to law school. It could have been a totally different outcome for me. It's what I always wanted. I pictured it every day. I still do.