Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with bitbitbit about their creative process, influences such as Eichlers and JER (Skatune Network), their first release “Intentions & Consequences”, and their upcoming album SKA BREAKUP! Check out the interview below!
1. Hello! Mustard thanks you for joining them. How are you?
I’m doing wonderfully, thank u! the weather is finally bearable up here in the frozen north.
2. Could you describe your creative process? How do you decide which bits and bytes of music to use and work from?
Everything I make nowadays is all on my laptop using almost 100% free software and samples. but that hasn’t always been the case. I’m a classically trained brass player and educator, formally, and so i often tended to approach writing music from a very compositional angle. i would take some poetry or writing I had made and try to orchestrate it the way others might an opera or symphony (and I’ve had my try at those, too, to not much avail). instead, lately, the music I’ve been making starts with small musical ideas first and foremost or merely the blank canvas of a DAW or synthesizer. I’ve been trying to learn so much more about “computer music” and producing and letting go of a lot of formality of my classical influences. and I’ve been having so much more fun doing it and feeling so much more productive, too! right now, I feel my best approach is to just throw something, anything, at the wall and see if it sticks. that’s how i ended up doing DUB U CRAZY for Eichlers.
3. Mustard wonders who (or what) influences bitbitbit?
Right now, I feel most influenced by my contemporaries. people like Eichlers and Skatunenetwork who I’ve met from #SkaTwitter have been so instrumental in shaping my new approach to music. not to mention they are some of the nicest people you could meet or seek advice from! i mostly grew up on emo and indie rock, especially stuff like Broken Social Scene and Bright Eyes, though i have played in all sorts of groups from orchestras, to salsa bands, to r&b cover bands, and jazz. so when it comes to writing my own music, i end up pulling from a lot of those influences but usually only tangentially. it’s all pretty eclectic and i think that’s why my influences are hard to pin down exactly (hopefully in a good way!). if i aspired to be like any one artist, though, it would be to write melodies like Joe Hisaishi. the coziness and respect for both nature and humanity, and especially the beautiful music, are something that have always inspired me so much about Studio Ghibli films.
4. June 2020 saw the release of “Intentions & Consequences.” Mustard has observed that sometimes humans perform acts and expect no consequences. Is this common? Could you share more about this album?
Oh yes. It’s quite often that people don’t always foresee or even consider the consequences of their actions, no matter how well intended. myself included! and often those consequences are completely out of our control anyways. For instance, I could not have foreseen a global pandemic influencing the recording process either but that happened, too. The truth is that most of the songs from Intentions & Consequences were written years and years ago and when it was finally time to record, that’s when everything shut down.
So I hastily recorded it in my basement before things got too bad out there and I tried to do all the production side of things myself. Two friends I’ve been playing music with since high school played drums and bass on the album. We knew that even though we were finally ready to perform and get these songs out into the world, things don’t always go according to plan. So most of the songs have never been played live or anything. still, those songs mean a lot to me.
5. Reading and listening to the lyrics of “Intentions & Consequences” cut Mustard right through the brand label. When crafting an album such as this, is the story planned ahead? Or do you come up with it while putting the album together?
The songs on Intentions & Consequences are all so sad! like I had said earlier, many of them were written over the course of years. what usually motivated me to write over that time were the big events that not only shaped me as an artist but also as a person. things like losing a family member, becoming a parent, love, loss, and everything in between. so the album ended up telling a story but only in the way that each of our lives end up telling a story.
6. Your follow up, “8-Bit Test Tracks Vol 1.” transport Mustard to a pixelated paradise. What are some of bitbitbit favorite games? If you could have your music in any video game, what would it be? Why?
This is such a hard question to answer! My friends, family, and I grew up playing so many video games together – especially split screen on the couch. growing up (and even still to this day), probably the Pokémon series of games have been most influential to me or at the very least taken up the most of my time! Composers like Junichi Masuda, Go Ichinose, and Koji Kondo have always held a special place in my heart for their exciting variations in style and feel throughout their games. I would love to score a video game someday, though, especially something beautiful and tranquil like Journey, Animal Crossing, or Breath of the Wild or something with a strong socially-conscious message.
7. On Twitter you’ve described your next release SKA BREAKUP as both a letter of love and grief. What can listeners expect from this release? How can communities such as #SkaTwitter learn and grow?
This set of songs was never really meant to be. I had been working on some of the songs since January 2022 and had other plans for their release. unfortunately, my own mental health struggles got the better of me at the start of April. I felt that I had lost my connection to my online community. so as I retreated away from social media (which definitely ended up being for the best), I also assumed the work I had put into those songs was for nothing. It took a lot of self-reflection and coming to terms with the loss and sense of betrayal that I felt and so I channeled those feelings into some of my favourite songs, songs by artists like We Are the Union, The Postal Service, Sixpence None the Richer, and Charli XCX.
What came out of that was a ska sound but sadder. A kind of post-ska or anti-ska, if you will. Gone were a lot of the upstrokes and energy, and instead what was left was a collection of breakup songs that I had made my voice sound all androgynous over – in that typical hyperpop style. I realized what or who I was breaking up with was the older version of myself and the assumptions I had made about my place in the world. My advice would be that if communities can embrace those changes when confronted with them, even if they are messy, you will come out the other side much happier and more resilient for it.
8. Where can readers listen to your music? Do you have a preferred platform?
Listen wherever you would stream your music. but if you want to support me directly, head to bandcamp and be sure to follow on #SkaTwitter and Instagram, too! Luv u Mustard!