1. Your cat makes an appearance in your song “Grapefruit.” Was this planned or did it happen spontaneously?
It was pretty spontaneous! Marcy is particularly vocal when she is hungry and she caught me in the kitchen trying to grab some samples for the beat. I thought it’d be cute to work her in, so I grabbed a couple of samples of her mewing 🙂
2. Could you explain the significance of the Grapefruit?
I always think of grapefruits as a very bitter and hard-to-eat fruit — it’s actually something I very rarely eat. So the imagery of “I’ll cut you a grapefruit and sprinkle with sugar” was very reflective of the spirit of the song, in which the person is making a very tough, bitter decision of ending their relationship but also leaving in a very kind way. Their partner has been unfaithful, so they’ve already made this decision to leave — but they’re not screaming and breaking dishes. They’re preparing their partner’s favorite breakfast, and waking them up gently and lovingly, all while very firmly letting them know their decision to part ways after breakfast. It’s a bittersweet celebration of the end. For me, the cutting is a very firm, very intentional action, while sprinkling the sugar feels very gentle and intimate. I hope that the listener feels the pain of the breakup and tastes the bitter, sweet, and sourness of the breakup… but also I hope that they can feel a sense of empowerment, kindness, and love in this moment.
3. Mustard’s human intern also works in an office. How do you balance work life with making music?
I don’t think I do it very well. Honestly, for the last 7-8 years, I hardly made any kind of music because I didn’t feel like it fit into my life anymore. I started to shift my thinking over the last year and a half (it does help to work from home), and have realized that it can fit, but I’m still struggling to figure out how to balance and maintain the energy to be creative when my job can be so demanding and exhausting. My hypothesis is that I need to a) be more comfortable sharing, b) carve out intentional time to be creative, and c) let go of any internal or external pressure.
4. How has TikTok helped you as an artist? What advice would you give to musicians looking to join the platform?
TikTok has been a huge surprise to me. My intention was to just post some videos into the abyss so that I can become more comfortable sharing (and more comfortable with myself) and to do some fun songwriting exercises. I thought people would either not watch or be mean, and I did NOT think I’d actually start connecting with people on the app… but I have found way more engagement, validation, and support from random strangers. It’s also been really nice connecting with other people in my age group who are also in non-creative careers and trying to pursue music as a hobby… I feel a very odd connection to some of my mutual and feel compelled and inspired by following along their journeys as well. I doubt I’ll ever go viral or have a ton of followers, but for me, it’s been very personally helpful and motivating.
I’d encourage other musicians joining the platform to have fun on the app without feeling pressure to post however many times a day or worrying about going viral and gaining a ton of followers.
5. You receive an email five minutes before your workday ends. The subject of the email is the name of your next song. What is the subject?
My work day doesn’t really have an end-time… but my last email I got today is titled “URGENT ACTION REQUESTED.” Yes, it was a stressful email.
6. Could you describe your songwriting process.
It really depends. I’m very lyric-driven, so I prefer to have some lines I feel strongly about before I start messing around on the piano. I’ll usually free-write a bit around a specific concept or idea and then start improvising on the piano to get some lines on a melody and then start trying to rhyme, structure, or add some arrangement behind it to flesh out the song.
7. Do you have a favorite duet you’ve done on TikTok? When you find a video you’d like to duet, what is your process?
I really liked my open verse challenge for Kato On the Beat. It didn’t get as many views as some of the others, but it was about meeting my husband and I just really liked how I sounded on it. When I find a video I want to duet (usually open verse challenges), I’ll download it to listen to it a few times, and then start writing some lines. If it turns into something that feels interesting, then I’ll actually sit down to finish writing it, and I’ll record it separately so I can edit etc. Sometimes, it’s more spur of the moment and I’ll just record something quickly in the app in between meetings with just my earphones.
8. You stitched a video for Kaylaglazemusic using appliances and items in your kitchen. How important is the environment when creating music?
For me, I just really need privacy. I really like writing in my bed. I do have a little shared office that I use as a “studio,” but I would feel embarrassed calling it that in front of real producers. It’s basically just a recording microphone, headphones, and a keyboard next to my regular computer. I don’t even have real speakers. I get very self conscious about my process until I feel good about my product, so I like to be alone without anyone listening when I’m writing or recording vocals (I think this makes me a terrible collaborator, honestly).
9. Zoom or Microsoft Teams?
I have to use Teams but Zoom makes me look prettier.
10. Could you share any details about upcoming music or projects you are working on?
My goal this year is to write and produce six original songs. I haven’t gotten very far on it, so I can’t really say much, but I can say that I hope that whatever I end up sharing will feel like an authentic part of who I am.