1. Could you tell us about how you got started?
I began to songwrite around the age of 13, mimicking artists I was listening to as all young artists do. I do the same mimicry now, but I have a flair to my voice now, as well as listening to vastly different music. I have always been a performer since I can remember, always seizing every opportunity to exist in a spotlight. I see a lot of who I was when I started still within myself, although I have developed a more mature and defined palette, with a healthy amount of pretension.
2. Who inspires you?
This question is a difficult one for me, mostly because I draw inspiration from so many exquisite artists, I couldn’t possibly name them all. I would say today, I am quite obsessed with the Vocal Jazz trio Lambert, Henricks, & Ross (Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross), who pioneered Vocalese style. I listen to their music and learn from it everyday. D’Angelo is another huge influence for me. I love his groove and effortless coolness. The last musical icon I will share with you is the astounding Kurt Elling, one of the most beautiful voices in contemporary Jazz. His recording of Moonlight Serenade (which he penned the lyrics for) is sure to bring you near to tears.
3. In your song “Don’t Tell Me I’m Pretty” you say “save all your compliments / I’ve heard them all before.” Do you experience this often? How do you cut through these informalities to achieve an authentic experience?
Firstly, I would like to give loving recognition to my dear friend Jared Jones who wrote this song for me. With that said, yes I have absolutely experienced this. As a performer, there is a part of me that loves the positive attention that comes from compliments, however, I do not like the concept that someone would compliment me to gain something from me, whether that be getting into my pants or otherwise. I think it has become fairly clear to tell when a person has ulterior motives, but sometimes they still get me.Ultimately, the people who are genuine will treat me the same when I’m at home in sweats as they do when I am onstage in knee high boots covered in glitter.
4. Could you recall the moment when you found out NPR chose your Tiny Desk entry “He’s Not What You Need Blues” as an entry they loved?
I was at my shitty day job, and I remember running outside to the alley to scream and jump around a bit, and I cried a lot of “proud of myself” tears. It was a big moment of affirmation for me. I can still hardly believe it if I’m honest with you, Mustard.
5. You recently hosted a DIY Cabaret event. Could you share what goes into creating an event such as Cabaret?
My entire heart and soul went into creating that event. My guitarist Diego and I planned the set list and shed for months, but I also designed the decorations, designed the poster, reached out to invite people, created an “elegance” theme, reached out to my dear friend Mac to provide complimentary cocktails, and it was all worth it. The joy in the room was palpable, to have people gather in the spirit of Jazz was truly a fulfilling reward.
6. For those who do may not know, what is divine femininity? How did this inspire your song of the same name?
Divine Femininity is sort of indefinable in words, or perhaps another person’s words could describe it better, but you know it when you see it. It is the beauty and strength, mostly strength, of sensitivity. It can exist within any person, but it is a characteristic that is often stifled. Seen as weak. Spoken over. I wrote that song Divine Femininity about how people who may not present as cis men are be made to feel small and sometimes unsafe because of this. I wanted to celebrate the beauty of the non-masculine.
7. You’re based in Chicago. Can you confirm, either from experience, or others that Chicagoan’s do not put ketchup on their hot dogs? Why is this? Is it because ketchup is a narcissist that only cares about themselves? (Sorry. Touchy subject.)
Chicagoan’s are hip to the fact that Mustard is clearly the superior condiment.
8. How would you describe the music you create?
Soulful and filled with my love. The music I listen to is mainly Black American Music; Jazz, Blues, Soul, Funk, & R&B. These styles surely show through in my sound. I take a very personal approach to my songwriting, my songs are usually created with tears as a key ingredient. I love that though, I think it is truly brave to be vulnerable, both in art and life.
9. Where has been your favorite place to perform? What sets this place apart from others?
I love performing in most venues, but I am particularly into playing DIY shows. There is something about being in an unconventional space that is re-imagined to house art that is endearing and special.
10. Your voice transports Mustard to a noir nightclub with patrons sipping an old fashioned. Is this intended?
Most definitely. Most of the vocalists who I strive to sound like (Annie Ross, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Jon Hendricks, Kurt Elling, ect.) often performed in & are associated with those environments. I certainly take it as a compliment. How often have you heard a subpar voice at a noir nightclub?
11. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?
There is an extended cut of my NPR Tiny Desk Submission video that includes two more unreleased songs that I plan to release in the very near future. I’m really thrilled to share it!
12. Where can readers find and follow your music?
All of my music & work can be found at this link: https://linktr.ee/musicbyandie
Thank you Mustard!