I am honored to be able to say I’ve known Isaiah Mitnaul (Bastion) for some time now. When I met him a few years ago at Southwestern, I knew there was something special about him. He has been a true inspiration to myself as well as many others. I sincerely appreciate Isaiah allowing me to interview him for this blog. He’s a great person, an amazing producer, and even better friend. Thank you Isaiah for sharing your story!
Could you tell us in your own words a little about yourself and what you do?
Hello World! My name is Isaiah Mitnaul and I do business under the name Bastion. I’m a 22 year old record producer and I connect people through ART.
How did you get started?
Everything started my freshman year in high school. I did it all: orchestra, jazz band, marching band, steel drums you name it. I caught the beat-making bug my junior year from a band mate of mine. He made his own beat tapes and one day I just asked him how he did it and he gave me a CD with a digital audio workstation program called FL Studio 3. Three years later I learned how to turn this hobby into a full-time career.
What cool projects are you currently working on?
Too many to name but I just finished some demos for Justin Beiber, Cassie, and Lil Wayne. But my favorite project at the moment is actually my own. It’s still a work in progress but it’s going to be a 7-10 track EP. The format will be similar to a Diplo or Flying Lotus album, which is pretty much music snob code for “Hip Hop on a Higher Level”. Now that I think of it I should actually name the EP, “A Work in Progress”. GENIUS!! Thanks Mike lol
Why is what you do important?
Because music exposes the invisible IN and AROUND us.
What is a good early story about your business?
I would have to say back in ‘06 when I worked at GOOD Music. My friends and I would spend countless hours A&R’ing our own acts so we could eventually pitch it to the “heads” and get our “foot in the door” officially. And I remember one of my co-workers kept raving to me about two acts he had: one was this cool female French-House rapper named Uffie and the other was this young rapper out of Toronto named Drake. He had dropped a mixtape called Comeback Season, had some tour experience, his own music video called “Replacement Girl” featuring a young Trey Songz, and a nice Myspace buzz at the time. I thought he had a good proposal on his hands. They set up meetings with the heads, the heads heard the music, checked out the press kit, and blindly passed on it. 4 years and a 1.5 million albums sold later this kid is running the game and Uffie as well in her respective genre. Looking back at this taught me a great deal about vision, consistency, team work, artist development, and pure hustle. The internet has leveled the playing field for virtually any type of artist to be heard by the masses but it takes a clear signal in order to be heard amongst the noise.
With what kinds of people/clients do you normally work?
Song-writers and engineers are my day-to day clients but I would label them as “creative partners”. Together we knock out songs to shop to artist(s). Other key players along the way are publishers, the artist themselves, A&R’s, lawyers, label execs, managers, and music supervisors. Other people I collaborate with off and on are photographers, designers, stylists, graphic designers, web-designers, video directors, club promoters, DJ’s, marketing strategists, bloggers, and the list goes on and on.
What are some little-known, interesting tidbits about your business?
I own my own publishing company Mitnaul Music Group which basically means I sign artists, writers and producers to my company. If anyone out there has any “amazing talent in hiding” please feel free to send them my way at (firstname.lastname@example.org). The second tidbit would be that I also started designing a fashion line by the name of Militia which will be available in the near future. I created this line as an ode to all of the military brats around the world. Like Jay-z says “I do this for my culture”
How does your business differentiate itself from other competitors?
Musically it all boils down to my team. I’m blessed to work with some of the greatest engineers, artist, and songwriters on earth and together we make amazing work. Point, blank, period. At the end of the day our only goal is to move popular culture by taking it to the next level sonically, lyrically, and musically.
Do you have a newsletter or other way you keep in touch with people?
Facebook or Grammy365.
Do you do any charity or non profit work?
Not as much as I would like but I had a chance to participate in a concert event for MusiCares back in May. It was established in 1989 by the National Academy of Recording And Sciences and was meant for musicians to have a place to turn in times of financial, personal, or medical crisis. I would definitely encourage anyone out there who loves music as passionately as I do to check it out and get involved as well.
Who are some of your most notable clients?
Keri Hilson, Ayinde, Chip the Ripper.
What is an interesting story about a client interaction you had?
This might sound boring but it would have to be about 3 years ago when my manager at the time played a couple of my tracks for Timbaland and “his team” and word came back that he thought I was dope and wanted to hear more of my work. Tim is personally my favorite producer of all-time and he even acknowledging that I exist and on top that considers me dope made my life!
What are some of your greatest challenges in your business?
I think the greatest challenge in music is simply selling music. How do you sell something that’s available for free online?
Please think about your most significant accomplishment (personal or professional or both). Now, could you tell us all about it?
Throughout my life I’ve always I felt like any form of success I achieved was a Gladwell “Outlier” result. So part of my day to day job now is racking my brain on ways to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages I came across with solid opportunity for thousands of kids just as smart, just as ambitious, and just as talented as me. So I’m working with some of the good folks over at the Recording Academy to help me create an official Grammy in the Schools Chapter for my hometown Killeen, Texas.
What general advice would you like to share?
Use what you have, start where you are, do what you can. The only way to get ahead is to get started today.
What question did you want me to ask? Ask it and answer it.
Why did I do this interview?
Because Mike keeps me on my A-Game and constantly promotes excellence on all levels of life. Plus this guy is a DJ…..how sick is that!!!
For more Isaiah, check out: