The Mariners Harbor music producer lost almost everything to Ida except his work ethic

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Sometimes even the biggest obstacle can be a blessing in disguise.

Such was the case of Mariners Harbor resident Justin Mills, who along with many Staten Islanders lost virtually everything he owned when Hurricane Ida hit in 2021.

Mills was living in the basement apartment of her childhood home when rainwater rushed through the ceiling. At the time, Mills wasn’t even at home, he was in Brooklyn and just starting to get into the music industry, having finished his formal education with a degree in audio engineering and production from the SAE Institute. of Midtown Manhattan.

A photo of Ida’s remains in the Mills house. (Courtesy of Justin Mills)

“My brother told me there was so much water in the basement that my bed was floating,” Mills said.

Although there was eventually some help from FEMA, much of it ended up going to utilities.

“I lost my bed, I lost clothes, I lost photos that I never saved. I also lost hard drives and some of my music equipment,” he said. he added, “I thought, fuck, how am I going to find enough work to replace everything I need?

After the waters subsided and the dust settled, Mills said he found a renewed passion for the music he created.

“Looking back, a lot of what I lost was just material stuff. Looking back, it was really just distractions. It allowed me to focus on the music because I really had nothing else to do.

Platinum producer Mitch Mula, who founded “the Stadium BK” music studio in Williamsburg, hosted Mills and his cousin Senora Cole, showing them the ropes of the industry.

Mariners Harbor resident who lost everything to Ida turns the tables

Stadium BK staff, left to right, Sinora Cole, Cassius Mohammed and Justin Mills pose for a photo in the music studio in Williamsburg on Oct. 25, 2022. (Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon)

Earlier this year, however, Mula informed the cousins ​​that he was moving to Florida, leaving the studio’s future up in the air.

“My cousin and I were trying to scrape together all the money we could to try and buy Mitch’s gear when he suggested we take it back,” Mills added. “It was a blessing.”


To make ends meet, Mills, 26, works part-time at Autozone in Tompkinsville and takes sporadic shifts at the Amazon Fullfillment Center in Bloomfield.

Additionally, Mills is a cross country and track and field coach at Moore Catholic, having previously played sports in school, then eventually at Port Richmond, then finally at the College of Staten Island where he helped the Dolphins win. their first two CUNYACs. Championships in 2013 and 2014.

During his sophomore year however, Mills realized he was just going to CSI to race, which led to his calling in music.

Mariners Harbor resident who lost everything to Ida turns the tables

Mariners Harbor resident and sound engineer Justin Mills works at his craft, Stadium BK in Williamsburg. (Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon)

“I found myself skipping class to make beats. I would be in the library not studying subjects but studying music.

“I don’t regret my move to CSI because it helped me realize my potential as a racer. I could see my hard work paying off and that was one of the main reasons I became a coach. It gave me my work ethic. I want to try to pay it back by showing the next generation.


“With Mitch leaving, we had to find ways to keep the studio running as much as possible,” added Mills, who says he has since expanded his offering into video and stills production.

Mariners Harbor resident who lost everything to Ida turns the tables

Chris Valentine, a Staten Island rapper famous for featuring his song “SINY” on Tom Brady’s Instagram, works on a song with Justin Mills at Stadium BK in Williamsburg. (Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon)

“I wanted to open our doors specifically to the Staten Island artist community because I feel like we don’t have anything like that there,” he added. It attracted local artists like Chris Valentine, who rose to fame when Tom Brady used his song on his Instagram page in 2020.

It seems Mills’ luck has finally run out. And as the saying goes, “Luck is created by hard work” and Mills is the embodiment of that.

To contact the studio, check out their Instagram page @thestadiumbk.

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