How MVW Went From Contemporary Classical Composer to Hip Hop Producer
His compilation tape ‘CONNECTIONS’ features songs with Valee, TiaCorine, Desiigner, and more.
Micheal Vincent Waller, known professionally as MVW, is a New York native who’s been composing and producing music in Los Angeles for the past two and a half years. He started off as a contemporary classical composer and pianist before picking up producing and artistic development (A&R) work three years ago.
He’s worked with numerous artists and producers, including Bbyafricka and multi-platinum producer Chase The Money. He was able to link with the Stinc Team before the passing of the late rapper Drakeo The Ruler. He produced a compilation tape called CONNECTIONS, featuring various artists such as TiaCorine, Warhol.SS, Valee, and Lil Gotit. We met at CTM Recording Studio in Studio City for a one-on-one interview.
MVW was born in New York City and raised there until his parents divorced at the age of five, causing him to move to Fort Lauderdale with his mother. He describes growing up in Florida as being chill, but remembers going back to New York for summers and holidays to visit his dad.
Around the age of 13, MVW received his first introduction to music. “My grandma was the only real musician in the family. And she was a self-taught pianist who just really played for herself and the family a little bit.” Around the same time, he was introduced to hip hop music from listening to artists like Biggie Smalls, Wu-Tang Clan, and Run-DMC. “I didn’t have anyone in the family who was encouraging me to do that; music was just something I found on my own.” MVW always knew he wanted to be someone successful, but didn’t know what he would be. It wasn’t until attending New York University that he picked up his love for composing.
While enrolled in business school at age 18, MVW was introduced to several musical artists. He decided he wanted to be one, and he started playing piano. “In the back of my mind, because I grew up listening to hip hop, I wanted to make beats at that time. I remember saying to myself ‘I want to learn an instrument first, let me actually play piano a little bit and then I can actually figure that out.’”
MVW ended up studying composition for almost seven years, privately and at NYU, with instructors like La Monte Young. Even though he loved hip hop, he wasn’t working in the genre at this point. “It was almost as if I forgot that part of me and [was] locked in being a contemporary composer and it wasn’t till the pandemic that I had an opportunity to reset a lot of my expectations and what was possible.”
But hip hop music, specifically the “idea of short melodic cells and repetitive hooks,” was influencing his classical sound, which changed the way he composed. He created several classical albums, including a 2019 remix project titled Moments.
“That project was the beginning of using my classical samples, remixing them and kinda putting them with drums and different electronics and seeing how that worked out. One of the remixes I worked on was a trap remix with Lex Luger.”
After composing for almost ten years, MVW the producer was born.
“When I got this remix back he was able to use my compositions and the samples with such integrity you could hear all the melodies as they were composed. They were transported into this new world and the way the 808s and trap drums were kinda arranged, it really worked well together.” The full project is set to drop in 2024, almost four years after he started it.
Since moving to LA in July 2021, MVW has been able to record and work with a plethora of artists. “[Los Angeles is] an extremely creative place where all the creatives kind of come together, no matter where you’re from. You can be creative in your hometown, anywhere in the world, but then [everyone comes] to LA to be creative together.” He appreciates LA for being a melting pot of creatives. “I was able to meet so many people. … In New York things are much more closed off, where here you can just walk into different places. LA is more open in the way of meeting people.”
One of the first artists he collaborated with while living in LA was the late rapper Gangsta Boo. She rose to fame at the age of 14 as one of the original members of the influential, iconic rap group Three 6 Mafia. She had a successful career, entering legend status before abruptly passing away January 1, 2023.
“We made quite a bit together and we went to Atlanta together. And she gave me a crash course of how things work behind the scenes, how records are really made, and how the studio experience really works. That was a … particularly influential experience.”
While he was working with Gangsta Boo, he reached out to Chicago rapper Valee’s manager, Andrew Barber. Shortly afterwards, MVW and Valee began working together. They’ve continued to collaborate over the past three years. MVW’s recent singles “Bali” and “Yo Yo” — which feature vocals from Valee — have received lots of attention from the indie underground music scene. They later plan on dropping a project together, sometime in June.
This year MVW did A&R for and produced the melodic trap song “Tru Tru” featuring up-and-coming rappers TiaCorine & Lil Cherry. “Lil Cherry is a Korean rapper and it was a cool project to work on because it was bridging those two worlds: the Korean trap world and Tia, who’s blowing up here in America, he said. “It gave each other a lens into each other’s audiences. Working with female artists who are very empowered and have a strong message, driving that home as the core message was an honor to work on that track.”
MVW plans to collaborate with the artists he’s been working with, and he hopes to do some R&B music in the future. He encourages younger generations to never give up and to stay consistent to what they want. “Be true to yourself. The more you can, just find out what your path is. You might not know it, it might be something you just stumbled across, it might be something you have been focused on your whole life. Once you find that and you know, ‘it’s my calling,’ just listen to that.”