Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with country sensation, Abigail Neilson. Together we discussed their early childhood, their experience in Nashville and how it has helped them as an artist, their upcoming single “Burn it down”, and so much more! Check it out below!
1. Hello! Mustard is grateful to have you join them. How are you doing?
Hey Mustard! I’ve been doing great! Getting ready to release my next single “Burn It Down,” has been such a blast. Anticipating what people might think of the song once it comes out is so fun!
2. You started writing music when you were thirteen and teaching yourself how to play guitar via YouTube. Do you remember any of the first songs you wrote? Or anything that may have inspired them? For humans trying to teach themselves an instrument, what advice would you give them?
I remember when I first started teaching myself to play guitar, I would look up songs I knew of and tried learning those first. After going through a few songs, I noticed there were 4 chords (G Major, C Major, E Minor and D Major) that kept popping up in the songs I knew so naturally I practiced those chords over and over until I could play them well. I then found songs with those chords so I could start practicing singing while playing. I’d go to the local farmers market and busk, and I hit every open mic in town just to get that stage practice in front of people singing and playing. The first song I ever wrote is called, “In Love with Your Way,” and I only remember the chorus (I wrote it when I was 11). There’s no recording of it anywhere, but it was a catchy country love song. My advice to anyone who wants to perform while singing and playing guitar is find songs with the same chords and practice them over and over until you can do it well so you can start to practice performing. The learning never stops so get out on stage and start! Also write your own music whether it’s by yourself or with co-writers. It’s a lot of fun!
3. It was a trip to Nashville where you discovered you wanted to pursue and create Country music. Compared to other places you have been, what sets Nashville apart? Do you have a favorite local spot in Nashville?
Nashville is the only place I’ve ever been where I really felt like I belonged. I grew up in Seattle and have been here my entire life but the second I set foot in Nashville it just felt like home. Once I started getting to know the Nashville community and made some friends was when I knew I had to move there and make it my forever home. I really loved playing down on Demonbreun. I played some rounds and met some amazing writers that are now friends of mine. Plus it is right by Music Row which is just so magical.
4. Thanks to your years as a dancer, you are not confronted with stage fright. You consider the stage a second home. When you get on stage, what are some of your initial feelings?
I always get really excited and feel grateful for the opportunity to play wherever I am. I love hearing the first strum of my guitar and I’ll kick my boot to the ground and flip my hair back and just get in the zone. I feel the most myself when I’m on stage, especially when I’m singing a song I wrote and can connect with the audience. There’s a specific type of happiness that fills my heart when I’m playing a stage. I feel my most confident and become so sure of myself. Every doubt or nerve I’ve ever had just instantly disappears and I’m more myself than ever.
5. Mustard wonders what is your creative process? What does your songwriting process look like?
There’s no process like a heartbreak for starters! When I write on my own, it’s usually coming from personal experience and I’m not afraid to dig down deep and share some details about my personal life through my music. Something I find myself doing a lot of before I write is going on my voice memo app, pressing the record button, and talking about a situation or a person or a thought I have out loud for about 20 minutes or so and after I listen back to it there’s always a song waiting to be written right then and there. My favorite songs are always the ones that are written fast. When I know exactly what I want to say and how to say it. Writing is like breathing to me in a way. It’s not a chore or something I feel like I must do. It’s something that just comes naturally, all the time, with or without warning. It’s a very important part of my life and a way for me to find closure where it might not have been found before, or a way to heal or even a way to get excited about my future.
6. It is no secret how much you adore and love Taylor Swift. How has Taylor Swift helped inspire and influence you as an artist?
Anytime I feel insecure or have doubts I’ll go on YouTube and watch her perform, an interview, or I’ll go and listen to her music. She’s who I look to when I find myself needing reassurance because she’s been such a solid constant throughout my entire life. I even remember hearing her song “Tim McGraw” on the radio for the first time. She’s such an incredible songwriter, musician, and person overall and has inspired me to be myself, write my own music, and to be a strong independent young woman.
7. Mustard had the pleasure of first discovering your music via social media platform TikTok. How has TikTok and other social media platforms helped you? Do you think artists can thrive without social media, or is necessary for growth? Do you have a favorite TikTok trend?
Since I started my solo music journey back in 2015, I’ve been on social media. I started with Facebook, then moved over to Instagram and twitter as well, and now TikTok too. Social media is an incredible way of not only getting your music out there in the world, but also a great way of letting the world get to know who you are. We’re able to reach people all over the world like never before with platforms like Instagram and TikTok. I think every artist should utilize social media and use it as a tool to promote yourself and your music to the world. It can be a tricky balance because too much social media can be hard on your mental health. But if you can find a healthy balance that works for you, it can be really fun! One of my favorite TikTok trends has been the Wheels VS Doors argument. I’m Team Wheels all the way.
8. You’ve been featured on Spotify playlists such as “Breakout Country”, “Fresh Finds: Country”, and “New Music Nashville.” How does it feel to be recognized on playlists such as these?
The morning I woke up and saw that I was added to those playlists, I literally just sat down and cried. I honestly couldn’t believe that it happened. Having the acknowledgment that I’m doing something right with my music was such a wonderful feeling. It made me so excited to write and release more songs in the future.
9. “Tin man” was one of the first songs you released. Would you say you have grown as a songwriter since then? Was “Tin man” inspired by The Wizard of Oz or generally feeling hollow?
Tin Man is a cover I did of Miranda Lambert’s, “Tin Man.” I love that song so much because of the metaphors and imagery Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, and Jon Randall use. When I first heard that song I was going through a hard time in my life, and I really related to the song. Listening to it felt so relatable and helped me remember that I’m not the only one who’s ever felt that way in this world.
10. You have created a formidable reputation in the Nashville scene. For those who may not know how to network, what are some first steps you recommend someone take?
The best thing to do is always introduce yourself to everyone and get to know the people around you. The music business is a difficult business and the more friends you have in your corner the easier it’ll be when you’re going through a tough time. Just by introducing yourself and getting to know the people around you can help you feel a part of the community while also getting your name out there. It can feel overwhelming but starting with a simple introduction can make it feel a lot less intimidating.
11. Mustard has loved the previews for your upcoming single “Burn it Down.” What can fans expect from this single? Should firefighters be present while listening?
“Burn It Down,” is a song I wrote unexpectedly about 2 weeks before I went to Nashville. I was going to record a different song but decided to record “Burn It Down” instead because I loved it so much. This song captured the feelings I had after trying to be something I wasn’t for someone I had loved. I wanted to grow more as a person, and they didn’t want to grow with me. Once I knew no amount of effort I put in mattered, I knew the only way to truly move on would be to acknowledge the past, own up to my own mistakes, and move on with my life without them. I’d say just to be safe, have a firefighter stand by while listening cause the tea is quite hot.
12. Do you have any upcoming shows?
Yes! I’ll be playing at Point Ruston for their summer concert series on August 27th at 6pm! All other events you can find on my website at AbigailNeilson.com!
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
I have music on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and everywhere else you stream music nowadays! I also have some fun music videos out on my YouTube channel!