Just four days fresh off her 24th birthday, Mickey Shiloh is kind of a big deal. Her songwriting prowess has landed her face time with the likes of Britney Spears, Wiz Khalifa, Jennifer Lopez, and LL Cool J. She also co-wrote “Night” for Janet Jackson’s chart-topping Unbreakable and attended songwriting sessions for Rihanna’s Anti, which celebrated a million downloads in less than 14 hours following its highly anticipated release. When reality star Kylie Jenner recently Snapchatted Shiloh’s vulnerable, sensuous track “Drunk On The Mic,” the ensuing social media storm brought Shiloh a slew of new fans.
“It’s funny. I’m not really paying attention to it,” she said of the Shamtrax-produced song’s Internet blowup. “I check my Twitter and Instagram but it’s more so friends and people around me texting me. It’s a really personal song. It’s really crazy that people are able to relate to it.”
When she’s not recording and songwriting in her bedroom (or treating herself to a few episodes of Inside Amy Schumer), Shiloh is an entrepreneur, a curator of ideas and a junkie for figuring out ways to execute them for both herself and other artists.
“We all have ideas we don’t act on 90 percent of the time,” Shiloh said. “I want to find ways to make things easier for creators.”
In a conversation with Billboard, Shiloh opens up about first love, staying motivated and entering the music world as a young power player.
How did you feel about Kylie Jenner showing “Drunk On The Mic” Snapchat love?
That really spearheaded the whole thing. Roc Nation hit me up maybe a month ago to write for Justine Skye. She tweeted the song and a lyric from it. I’m assuming she was researching me ’cause they wanted me to work with her. My friend then sent me a screenshot of Kylie responding to the tweet with a thinking emoji so it was really Justine Skye that started this whole thing!
How did this song come to be?
I was just home one night, going through tracks from my friend Shamtrax. I heard the first two notes of the piano and freaked out. I don’t even like to listen to the beat too much. I like to freestyle the first time I hear a beat. I threw my headphones on, did one take through the whole song and basically wrote the whole thing. The first verse is one freestyle. I never re-recorded that. That was exactly what came out.
Can you tell me the personal story behind it?
I was in a zone — I was drunk actually when I did it! [Laughs] So it was very real. I had always wanted to do a song about this guy that I fell in love with when I was 19. That was the first guy I ever loved and kind of flipped my world upside down. He was older than me. I wanted to highlight that. I think a lot of people experience that and now I’m realizing just how many people actually do relate to it.
Your songs have a sensuality to them. Is this intentional?
It’s funny. I’ve been writing professionally since I was 15 when I got my first publishing deal. And even before that, I started recording myself around 12. All my songs were about things I didn’t even know about yet. When I was 15, my first placement was a Twista song called “Jump Off.” I was singing “Boy come and get it” and I hadn’t even kissed anybody yet! You kinda gotta use your imagination when you’re that young. But I think that sensuality came out naturally in my music and stayed with me up until now. I have more experience now but it’s always been a part of me.
How did you get into music at such a young age?
My dad was a rapper so I started out rapping at 8 or 9. I wanted to be a rapper; that was my dream. I started writing songs when I was 12. I was in the San Francisco Girls choir from age 10 to 12. I had a vocal teacher for about a year but really my vocal experience came from learning to record myself because I was doing that every day. It was a lot of me just repeating things over and over.
When and how did your music career truly come full force?
When I was 14, I got a music MySpace and started uploading the songs I was recording. I was messaging producers every day, every night. One day, this producer Chad Beatz finally hit me back. He said “Call me immediately.” I told my mom, called him, we talked and he started sending me tracks. We would work on things together, write things together. He would produce the beats and do melodies. I signed my first publishing deal with him. I then signed with Darkchild when I was 17. I met him through another guy I met on MySpace named John Asher. He had met Darkchild at church and was working with him and his girlfriend and so John was like “Why don’t you come to L.A. to meet Darkchild?”
So my uncle and his girlfriend at the time drove me down to L.A. We worked a little bit — but not really. We went bowling one night, and I was like “Oh my God, I’m bowling with Darkchild and his family! This is crazy.” Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga — he’s worked with everybody under the sun. We stayed in contact after that and I didn’t have my hopes up for anything. A few months later, Darkchild called me — I remember I was in metal shop class in high school. He told me he wanted to sign me and I was like “Holy shit.” It was an amazing feeling. It’s crazy to start that young!
What artists are you currently working with?
I do things I’m called in for. Like today I’m working with two boys called Jack & Jack. They’re from Australia and have a really big social media following. I’m working with Justine Skye in February.
What about your own personal work as an artist?
I have so much content. I enjoy expressing myself and just putting stuff out. I do a lot of things by feeling. I’m a very organized and planned person but when it comes to my music, I just get a feeling when I want to put something out and usually it’s correct. It’s an intuition thing.
How do you manage to continuously have ideas?
Man, it’s not easy. At the beginning of my sophomore year at USC, I got chronically depressed and had to take a leave of absence for eight months. I was going to go to nursing school. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to do music anymore. I had never been depressed before. It made me realize I never want to say “I’m depressed” or that something is depressing because that is a feeling that is not to be taken lightly. It was really miserable. In April 2014, I went four days without sleep and ended up in the hospital. I ended up being diagnosed bipolar. I was manic. I thought that people could read my thoughts. I thought I was time traveling. It was the craziest shit ever. So I had to go home for a couple of months and rehab myself — it sounds like I was on drugs. I was just not sleeping. That was major.
Dealing with the diagnosis, I was like “Fuck, I don’t want to be labeled this or labeled that.” I’ve come to a point now where I’m realizing no one can label me that. I just know that my mind works differently and that I have to take care of myself. Now, I realize why all that happened. I can help other people who are going through that sort of thing. I’ve actually written a lot of songs about it but I haven’t put them out yet. I want to have the right amount of exposure for it.