Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Philadelphia’s Alyssa Garcia. Together we discussed their mantra, their influences, having their songs featured on Netflix, and so much more! Check out the interview below!
1. Hello! Mustard is grateful to have you join them. How are you?
I’m grateful you took the time! Feelin’ good 🙂
2. You live by the mantra “Music is the cure.” Could you elaborate more on this? Is music doctor recommended? Who are some of your go-to artists or songs that help get you through a rough day?
We all need a good music doctor in our life! haha
When I was super young, my piano teacher shared the mantra “Music is the cure” with me, and ever since it’s been constantly true in my life. Music can be the best medicine, and writing music has saved me even from my worst days. Every song has a piece of someone’s soul ingrained in it. Listening closely, leaning into the feeling, can make you and the artist feel seen. At the end of the day, I think humans just want connection. Music’s special like that.
The Beach Boys, Sammy Rae & the Friends, or any Remi Wolf song can revive me from any bad day! Or if I’m leaning into the sad days, Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher record will be on repeat, no questions asked.
3. Who (or what) influences you? Both musically and in life?
I tend to write what I know. Life is the biggest inspiration behind my songs. I write to understand why something’s happened & how it makes me feel. It’s always been the way my brain processes my day-to-day.
I’m also a big people watcher. Just sitting in a crowded city, imagining other people’s conversations & situations inspires me pretty often. Traveling has the same effect. Experiencing something I’ve never been through before will most definitely spark a song idea.
Musically, story-telling songwriters have always been a big influence: Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, Gracie Abrams, Lucy Dacus, Japanese Breakfast, Daughter, & the like.
4. What is your creative process? Does your work as a producer and composer intertwine with your songwriting?
I don’t have a set way of doing things when I’m writing/producing. I love it – it keeps things interesting and natural. Though, I almost always start with just piano/ukulele and vocal. I usually write the whole song acoustically, before getting into production. I’ll very rarely write to a beat I make or something like that. Just me and the piano is how I first started writing, so that always comes the easiest. My work as a producer and composer definitely come into play when I’m working on creating a track.
From the production side, I’ve learned over the years what plugins I love, how I’ll mic up my voice or my instrument depending on the song, what textures I like to use, etc. Production is an instrument in itself and I try to play to that strength as much as I have the knowledge to. It’s a lot of experimenting and seeing what sounds cool to me.
From a composer’s lens, a lot of my songs recently have been written with some sort of ensemble behind it. I love writing parts for strings, woodwinds, and brass that compliment the piano and vocal. I’m big on writing songs that I could see put to film, so every note on any of the instruments is a piece of the story.
5. How does it feel to have your music featured in films such as “Getting Grace” and on Netflix’s soap opera “The Young and the Restless?” Were these songs composed for film and television? Could you share more about how this all came together?
It’s an honor and it feels so fulfilling. Like I said, I’m very much into storytelling songwriting and sonically placing my songs into a film setting and writing that way. To be able to actually have my songs in different visual mediums is still a dream.
Sometimes, when I’ve tried to write for a specific piece of visual media, I find myself writing something that’s too on the nose or almost corny, so I’ve been trying to work on that craft a little more.
The songs that have been placed so far actually have not been written specifically for the pieces they’ve been placed in. They were just tracks I wrote about my life and experiences that happened to pair beautifully with the different plots. I find that to be even more special! It’s all felt very serendipitous.
My song placements all started with Getting Grace. I was playing a gig in Allentown, PA and I heard about a film that was being shot locally that was in need of local music to fill the soundtrack. I submitted two of my songs to the film’s website, actually not knowing much about the plot. I got a call from the director, Daniel Roebuck, a few months later saying that he’d like to use not just one but two of the tracks in the movie! Since then, I’ve been so grateful to get to work with the firm that handled that soundtrack, Heavy Hitters Music. They’ve been super supportive, pitching my music to other networks and creatives leading to the placements in The Starling, Young and the Restless, and hopefully much more 🙂
6. You’ve performed at venues and have opened for some big names such as Crash Test Dummies. Do you have a favorite venue? Where would you like to perform you have not yet?
So my favorite venue would have to be Chaplin’s in Spring City, PA. This place, the owner Chris Cachuela, and I go waaaaay back now. The venue itself is an old movie theater turned performing space and recording studio. I recorded my first album there and have played so many open mic nights and shows on that stage over the years. Even had my sweet 16 birthday party there (lol) That place really shaped me as an artist and a performer.
A stage I would absolutely love to perform on is The Treehouse stage at the Firefly music festival. Oddly specific maybe, but the stage is literally built around a tree in the middle of the woods with a ton of string/fairy lights around. It was absolutely gorgeous and a perfect stage for singer-songwriters. I saw Gracie Abrams there front and center this past year and it was one of my favorite concert experiences ever.
7. On Instagram you recently teased something in the works with SanRico Film & Music. Can fans expect to hear new music of yours soon?
The work I’m doing with SanRico is super special and exciting! I can’t reveal too much, but it’s a type of writing I’ve never done before, and I hope it’s gonna resonate with a lot of people. Stay tuned 🙂
Other than that project, I’ve taken a bit of a break from recording, but I have SO many songs written that I wanna take the time to produce so there will definitely be new music out soon. Hang tight!
8. Mustard loves your debut album “three little words” that was released in 2017. Humans often have three little words they like to say to each other. Was the album name inspired by this? What was the process of putting this album together?
Thank you so much! Yeah the album was definitely inspired by the title – this idea that with just three small words, you can say a lot. A lot of my teenage angst went into this writing (haha) but it’s been a crucial stepping stone for me as a writer. I can look back on the release in 2017 and see how much I’ve grown/changed since then.
I put this album together with Chris Cachuela and a a few other amazing studio musicians all in Chaplin’s! It’s a cozy little studio that I’d swing by after school (my high school was a 10min drive away) and work late(ish) nights to write and record. Chris was instrumental in helping me find my sound back then, and we put a lot of love in making those first songs. It’s crazy to think that a few of the tracks have got to be in feature films now. Three Little Words will always have a special place in my heart.
9. “Isn’t It Lonely” poses the question: isn’t it lonely on your pedestal. What inspired this song and this thought-provoking question?
This song was a risk for me. It was pretty different than my other music and it felt really empowering to create. This song was inspired by tough situations I’ve been through where I’ve felt powerless, really unable to stand up for myself. I just found myself questioning how we can throw away relationships and push people away just because we want to be right or want to believe we’re somehow better than the next person. This song was a result of processing all of that.
This song was also the first track I got to shoot a music video for. A great friend of mine, Will Martinko of That’s Fantastic Films helped me create this vision that took inspo from an iconic scene in Reservoir Dogs. Our version was a little less graphic and more PG-13 haha but still incredibly cool to shoot. Being in that video is still one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Check it out if you haven’t! It’s on YouTube 🙂
10. What’s next for Alyssa Garcia?
Wow that’s a big one. Recently, I’ve been exploring film scoring a lot more. I got the chance to score a short horror film a few months ago and it sparked something in me. I fell in love with it, and I know for sure I want to do more of it. (If you’re a filmmaker looking for scoring, hit me up!!)
Next to that, I’m going through a sort of rebranding process. I’ve been making music under my own name since I was like 13. I don’t think I ever got to properly form an artist identity/brand. Now that I’ve graduated and I’ve got a little more time on my hands, I’m taking some time to explore that and nail it down.
11. Where can readers listen to your music?
You can hear me anywhere you consume music! Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, SoundCloud, you know the deal 🙂 I also post snippets of covers and new material on IG @alyssaggarcia & on TikTok @alyssagarciamusic. If you’re reading this, please reach out!! I’d love to get to know you all 🙂