Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Suffolk’s Josie Edie May. Together we discussed the role music played during their childhood, their strong sense of empathy, their latest single “Sea Salt”, and so much more! Check it out below!
1.Hello! Mustard is grateful to have you join them. How are you?
I am very good thank you, enjoying this lovely weather and doing lots of songwriting.
2. What role did music play in your life growing up? Can you recall a specific song or album that inspired you wanting to become a musician?
I grew up in a house where music was always being played, so I was surrounded by lots of genres from a young age. I listened to Taylor Swift, The Ting Tings, Ellie Goulding and One Direction a lot when I was younger. As cliche as it sounds, Disney films such as Camp Rock and Hannah Montana inspired me to write a lot more and gave me the initial dream to be a musician. I was also gifted a karaoke machine for Christmas one year, which reinforced my desire to perform.
3. You’ve cited Taylor Swift as an influence of yours. Could you share more about how Taylor Swift has influenced you? What Taylor Swift song do you believe is underappreciated?
I think the first song I heard of hers was ‘Picture to Burn’ . I used to watch the music video on repeat, and I bought her debut album on CD. The in-depth storytelling within Taylor Swifts’ early country music is what inspired me when I was younger, so much so that I would write songs about boyfriends I never even had.
And that’s a tricky one! I would have to say ‘The Best Day’ from Fearless (Taylor’s Version), maybe just because not everyone can relate to it but it’s one of my favourites as it makes me think of my parents.
4. Mustard has tried their best to understand humans and their behaviour. Your music contains a strong sense of empathy. Why is it important that humans be empathetic? For those who may struggle being empathetic, what advice would you give them?
I think it’s important that we all have a sense of empathy, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and we should always make time for people and be considerate of what others go through. I honestly think if you spend time getting to know yourself, your own strengths and weaknesses, and can accept your own faults, you can look upon others with the same level of respect you give yourself. Journaling helps with this, if you can write about your own feelings and make sure you’re in tune with your own emotions, you’re more likely to understand other people.
5. You’ve mentioned in another interview that songwriting helps you cope and process emotions. When did you first discover this? What is your songwriting process?
I was very young when I started writing songs (probably around 7 or 8), I never used to write them down at first, I would just sing what I was feeling or about stories I had made up. The more I wrote the more I realised it was ‘my thing’ so I started writing them down. The first song I ever wrote and actually wrote down was called ‘Pop Star, Rock Star’ which is very amusing to look back on. Songwriting really helped me through school years with teenage anxiety and lack of confidence, it was a way of projecting all my thoughts into something creative. The process of writing a song is like therapy, you have to sit in your own head, put your thoughts into words, craft them into art, then sing them out loud, by the end of it you feel better.
I usually start with a concept, a feeling or sometimes a single word. After writing the initial lyric I play around with chords and start forming melodic ideas, then the rest of the song flows from there. Some songs I have written I don’t actually remember writing because I was so in the moment.
6. “Washing Lines” questions stereotypes and how our perception may not always be accurate. Was there a situation you witnessed that inspired this single? How can humans avoid using stereotypes?
I was on a bus ride going from central Brighton towards Bevendean when I wrote the initial lyrics to this song. The route went past lots of blocks of flats, with washing lines on the balconies (surprise, surprise) and I just thought about how lucky I was to grow up with a garden. Then I started to think about the differences between rural and urban places and the stereotypes that are attached. I wanted to write a song that discussed the inaccuracy of such stereotypes and to make people question their initial perceptions of such things. Stereotypes will always be present in society; I think as long as you don’t act negatively because of potential stereotypes and think before you speak/act you won’t cause issues.
7. Outside of music you enjoy photography. What type of photos do you enjoy taking?
I do! I really enjoy taking portraits. I also love editing photos, I could do it for hours.
8. Who are some of your favourite storytellers? How do these storytellers influence your songwriting?
I’ve always loved Billy Joel’s lyricism and how he incorporates characters into his songs, he is a big influence of mine. In terms of authors, I really enjoy Sally Rooney’s books and how she portrays her characters. I am also influenced by films and TV and I really enjoy writing songs from the perspective of fictional characters.
9. “Sea Salt” is your latest single. What inspired your most recent release?
I wrote the lyrics on Hove Beach. I had just moved to Brighton for University and I was feeling a bit lonely and lost. It was the time in between moving in and University term actually starting, so I had lost all my routines and felt a bit down. A few days before, I had been in the sea and floated on my back for a while, so the song’s imagery is recounting that moment whilst creating a metaphor for missing home.
10. “Home is not a number / or a seven digit code / or a building on the side of the road” is a lyric that has been stuck in Mustard’s plug since they heard it. Could you elaborate further on this?
Yes, so although I missed home, it wasn’t the physical building or place, it was my family. So, I wanted to break down what ‘Home’ really is, and to me it is not an address or a postcode, it is my family, wherever they go is my true home.
11. What was it like performing at the Sun and Moon festival? Have you performed at any other festivals?
It was a very lovely day, and the audience were fantastic listeners, it was also really fun playing the same event as some of my friends. I played Stowfiesta earlier this summer which was a very enjoyable day! The sun was shining and there was a real buzz and busy atmosphere.
12. What’s next for Josie Edie May?
Well… there is more music coming soon!
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
‘Washing Lines’ and ‘Sea Salt’ are out on all streaming platforms under Josie Edie May, so stream away!
This year I set myself the challenge to write a song every month about each month, so far I’ve posted from January through to July and these are posted on Youtube and Soundcloud.