Michaela "Mickey" Shiloh is an entrepreneur, recording artist, multi-platinum-selling songwriter, author, and mentor. At 12, Shiloh learned to write and record her own songs, and at 17 she signed to Grammy-Award-winning producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. During her time working with Darkchild, she also studied Music Industry at the University of Southern California.
Over the years Shiloh has worked with Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Pitbull, LL Cool J, Jeremih, Iggy Azalea, Jason Derulo, JLo, Rita Ora, Omarion, Cassie, Vic Mensa, Wiz Khalifa, T.I., The Game, Keke Palmer, Christina Milian, Jake Miller, Justine Skye, Diplo, Alex Da Kid, Dada Life, Jasmine Villegas, Brooke Valentine, T-Boz, Travis Garland, Mistah F.A.B., King Los, Teyana Taylor, and many more.
In November 2018, Shiloh was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 in Music. In 2019, Shiloh judged the Forbes 30 Under 30 Music Class of 2020, alongside The Chainsmokers, 21 Savage, and Adriana Arce. Shiloh is the CEO and founder of two independent record labels, HRDRV and BDRM Records. She is also a huge mental health advocate and the co-founder of Mental Wealth Club, a mental health support organization.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?
My dad was a rapper, so I always say I got the music bug from him. He'd be around the house with his pen and pad writing and rapping, so I really followed in his footsteps from a young age. I had my notebook and crayons and would write raps to express my childhood angst! My first dream ever was actually to be a famous rapper.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?
I consider myself the quintessential bedroom artist. I literally named my first company "BDRM Records" because of that. I don't love to perform as much as I wish I did, I prefer to sit at home and write songs all night and release them when I feel like it. Complete creative freedom is my jam. I'd describe my genre as a mixture of R&B, pop, hip-hop, and sometimes alternative. My only requirement when making music, for myself or others, is that it is honest.
WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?
Creating is the only way I've ever been able to fully express myself. As a kid, I'd write about my parents arguing, identity crises as a minority female, and as I grew up topics turned to cheating exes and wild love stories.
I define my success in music like I define my success in anything. Does it make me happy and is it impactful? If I'm getting things off my chest and simultaneously people are telling me my music helped them get through a bad day, a breakup, or even saved their life - that is success to me. Whether it's one person or thousands or millions.
THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?
I've had a few great mentors along the way! The first producer I was signed to at 15, Chad Dexter, is still one of my greatest friends to this day. He taught me that songwriting is a business and helped me cultivate the beginnings of my songwriting style.
My second great mentor was Darkchild. Darkchild really pushed me outside of my comfort zone in terms of recording. The first day we worked in the studio he told me to get in the booth and freestyle melodies over a track, something I had never done before. I was so nervous! But today, freestyling is the only way I like to work.
Thirdly, my fans, friends, and family are my biggest support system. They champion me when I'm down and champion me when I'm up. Forever grateful.
SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?
The greatest way I've learned to ride the ups and downs is by having a close circle of friends I can vent to. It's almost impossible not to let things get to you, at least I haven't discovered a way to completely get over negative experiences quickly. Time passing is the ultimate healer, but during the actual time passing period, having those friends that remind you of how incredible you truly are is super important.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS?
I think it's already happening! I just saw an article about the rise of female A&Rs at major labels, and there are such incredible organizations that are fostering young women coming up in music too (such as Girls Make Beats). I don't think there's much else we can do other than continue to educate each other, support each other, and pave the way for those who are to come after us. We're already doing it!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?
You will likely experience uncomfortable experiences along your journey, that sadly just come with the territory. Respect yourself and never feel you have to do something that doesn't align with your moral compass. No opportunity is worth sacrificing your values, and if someone tries to convince you otherwise, then that just isn't the right opportunity for you. Trust that the right opportunities will come to you with hard work and dedication to your craft because they will! My #1 piece of advice to young women working in studios or going to other music industry events - always bring a friend with you if you don't know who you're working with or who you'll be around.
FROM YOUR VIEW, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF MARGINALIZATION AND ERASURE DOES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NEED TO ENSURE WE DON’T ENACT IN THE NAME OF GENDER EQUALITY?
I see a lot of marginalization of women producers and women engineers. It's almost like this stigma exists that women in those positions must not be "as good" as the men in those positions because primarily they've been male-dominated fields. I call BS. The only way to ensure this gender equality exists is by more women feeling comfortable and confident joining these fields. Again, something that I think is naturally happening even more these days. I think we will see a huge spike in women producers and engineers in the next 5 years.
WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?
You can do more with others than you can do alone. It's also not fun to "win alone" -- so it's the more the merrier for me! There is more than enough money, success, and fans for everyone to dominate their own lane.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?
I'm most excited about my record label's new platform (hrdrv.com). We're working out the final kinks before our global launch in Q3 2022, but so far our current users are loving the new web application. We provide cover artwork, mixing/mastering, production, photography, videography and so much more to thousands of musicians around the world. It's one of my proudest achievements! Other than that, I'll of course be dropping at least 100 new songs! Always working on my own music, but it's much more a hobby these days. I'm enjoying being a CEO more than anything.
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