Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Oxford’s GIGSY. Together we discussed their process making music, their influences, their EPs such as “MODESTA Volume One” and their newest single “Snakeskin.”
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m very grateful for the opportunity! I’m doing well thank you! I hope Mustard are doing well also!
2. You began making music at fifteen. What was your process back then? How have you grown since? What kind of sounds did you experiment with?
My process back then was… Messy! Not a metronome in sight! My process was very rough, focused around a keyboard and god awful apple earphone vocals! I taught myself to play basic chords on my midi keyboard, and very much looked up to MARINA (& The Diamonds) as my inspiration when I first started out, so if you’ve ever heard her MySpace era stuff, that was what I was trying to create but very much a Poundland version! I then went to college and began to learn more about production and performing, eventually I naturally grew into myself. Over the years I’ve played around with every genre you could think of.
I started very alt indie pop, to more mainstream sounding, to Lily Allen-esque, back to my roots (but higher quality), then onto the sound I’m currently rolling with! I love using synths. There’s something amazing to me about the synthesiser. A machine that makes the most interesting, versatile sound. I feel as an artist I’ve grown with age, it took me a long time to feel like I’m doing it ‘right’. I’m starting to realise that it’s ok that not everyone likes me or my music, and maybe it won’t be appealing to some people, and that’s fine, because I want to build a community that has similar thoughts and beliefs, where we can support each other and just enjoy the music.
3. How can humans use music as a tool?
This is something I’ve really taken on board during the process of ‘MODESTA’. I’ve always been quite an outspoken artist, but with this project I’ve really just laid it out there with how I feel about certain things going on in the world right now. I like to say ‘music is a weapon, use it’, and by that I mean we should be using our craft and talents for good. It’s amazing how music can affect people. A song has the ability to allow others to understand you, so why not use it as a way to communicate ‘to the masses’ about what’s happening around us right now in society. I think if you have a platform, even if it’s small, you should be using it to try and make change.
4. Who (or what) influences you?
My top musical influences have to be MARINA, Lady Gaga, Charli XCX, Rina Sawayama, Twenty One Pilots, Lily Allen, My Chemical Romance to name a few modern artists, but also I grew up on Gary Numan, Ultravox, Pet Shop Boys, Linkin Park, Madonna, Kylie Minogue… A very varied mix! I think that has helped me massively in my music also, I don’t like to be fit in a box too much. Each project I do, will never be the same (as much as I can help it!). Lyrically, I’m mostly inspired by events that are happening around me, whether it be societal, political, personal… At the moment it’s very much those three things. It’s hard not to let these things seep into your music, especially with issues like abortion laws, LGBTQIA+ rights, womens rights, racism…
5. What is your creative process?
I’m constantly creating. Not to sound like every artist ever, but it’s true! It’s a blessing and a curse. I tend to switch up how I create with every song, sometimes it starts with lyrics that come to mind and I write it down in my phone notes, then I’ll make an instrumental that I feel fits the lyrics, or I’ll flip it and make the instrumental first and then write what lyrics come to mind with hearing it. I have synesthesia, so I think that also subconsciously helps me create. It’s a very natural thing, with ‘MODESTA’ it was a subconscious decision to use red as the colour to represent the project. It’s music born from very angry, frustrated, rebellious emotions, and the sound of the project really followed that, and most of the songs visually to me are red, with the few exceptions of songs like ‘She’s Evil’ which is green, hence the witchy vibes, or ‘Snakeskin’ which is more black and white, with flashes of green, blue and purple. So it really does naturally coincide for me. Visuals are very much as important as the music for me.
6. Mustard has heard humans should not open Pandora’s Box. In 2020 you did. If humans were the box, what do you think would happen? How would society react? Could you share more about this single?
I wrote ‘Pandora’s Box’ for my album ‘I Am Mowgli’, which overall was more of a personal conceptual album. I wrote the song about the ‘bad parts’ of myself and how they could spill onto those around you, as if I was Pandora and they were the box I was piling all these bad things in to. It’s a very synth heavy track, it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve done as well as ‘Susie & The Regulars’, ‘Suck A Lemon’ and ‘The Glass Balloons’ which are also from the same album. Sadly it isn’t to the standard I would’ve liked quality wise as my Mac died and I lost EVERYTHING. So I only had the ‘final demo’ versions of the album, but I’d spent too much time and effort in the project to scrap it! To answer if humans were the box… I think there would be chaos. In a way, I feel peoples boxes are starting to open, and it’s not looking too good on society right now! Peoples true colours are showing, and there’s some boxes that should stay shut, and maybe seek therapy for the amount of hatred they have for certain groups of people!
7. Besides the year 2000, could you tell us more about your EP “Computer Pop 2000.” Which 2000 artists do you recommend everyone check out?
After ‘I Am Mowgli’ I felt I needed to do something to challenge myself. And to have a bit of fun! I tend to try and do that after projects that I found quite tasking or emotionally draining. So, I decided to make ‘Computer Pop 2000’, a little nod to a previous EP I did called ‘Computer Pop’. I wanted to experiment with different producing styles, and I think it really helped with my latest project in a way. Each track from CP2000 is inspired by a certain artist/genre from that era of music. I had a concept of it being like a time capsule of sound, with the Intro of ‘PopBot’ introducing you to the world of CP2000. ‘Glamorous!’ was inspired by Lady Gaga’s ‘The Fame’ (and her ‘pre-fame’ work), ‘I’ve Got Me’ is Britney/Max Martin, ‘Religion’ is Timbaland and ‘Chromatic’ is more of a late 90s/early 2000s House tribute, very campy, a little bit ballroom. I even reference Billie Piper in the song! I grew up listening to her.
Some 2000s artist I recommend… Hmm… SO MANY! I would say: Lady Gaga (her debut is one of the best of all time, I will fight till the death about this), Timbaland (Shock Value is AMAZING), Kylie Minogue (Fever), Fergie (The Duchess), My Chemical Romance (Three Cheers), Gwen Stefani (What You Waitin’ For is one of the best pop songs of all time), Cheryl Cole (3 Words is so good), Lily Allen (Alright, Still is in my top 5 fave albums ever), MARINA (The Family Jewels is my favourite album ever). I’ll stop there, but I could go on and on. 2000s pop was just elite.
8. MODESTA Volume One is a social commentary project. What do you hope listeners get out of this EP? How will Volume two compare to this first volume?
I hope listeners get more of an understanding of who I am and what I believe. But I also hope they question themselves a little. I think it’s healthy for us to sit down with ourselves every once in a while and think ‘what could I be doing better’, ‘what have I done to contribute to this issue and how can I rectify that’, ‘who am I? What do I want people to know me for?’ I think that’s a tough thing to ask of people, because we don’t want to acknowledge those parts of ourselves. Volume One delves into a more metaphorical/idiom coated world, where whilst I’m still clear with my points, I’m still carefully approaching these subjects. For example ‘The ARCHitects’ discusses money, power and ignorance, with lyrics like ‘wars waging wars, with gold coins in their pockets, a blank stare from their eye sockets, spending money on their rockets’, which is commentary on those like Elon Musk, and politicians who are more ego/power driven over morals or wanting to help the people.
Volume One also has a more muted sound, believe it or not, and is sonically more influenced by the new wave/alt rock movement of the 80s, whereas Volume Two is more rock, edm, drum and bass, hyperpop sounding. Almost like a ‘past’ and ‘future’ of sounds for each volume. I think that was something both conscious and subconscious. It makes sense with the topics and theme of the project. Volume Two is also more blunt and to the point. For example, my latest single ‘The Art of InnoSINce’ faces the issues I’ve mentioned in the previous question head on. The first line in the song is ‘they say no to abortion, but yes to guns *that’s awesome*’. I don’t think it can get much clearer than that! But there’s a mix of genres for sure on Vol Two. I’m very excited.
9. You feel your skin shedding on your newest single “Snakeskin.” Is this a common feeling for humans? Could you tell us more about this single?
I wrote ‘Snakeskin’ after having a realisation with myself. I live with a chronic illness called ‘ME’ also known as ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ and it makes my life difficult sometimes. But I struggle with staying social, and keeping friends. I’ve always struggled with it since being a kid, I’ve had many friend groups, many best friends, and whilst that is normal for people, I never felt like I fitted in or have gone through periods of intense alienation. I wrote the song about one friend who I am no longer in contact with, due to my own issues and life getting in the way. I apologised and owned up to my own mistakes, and it’s probably one of my most vulnerable songs. I actually get very emotional when singing it live.
Snakeskin symbolically represents change, growth and healing. It’s me healing from the past, and allowing myself to come to terms with the fact I have this illness/have done these things and whilst still holding myself accountable, allowing myself to heal from it. I think everyone sheds their snakeskin, multiple times in their life. I know I’ve been many people throughout my life, and I’m only 24! The more you shed, the more you’ll understand yourself and become the person you deserve to be.
10. How would you describe your sound?
Chaotic. A bit like me! Joking aside, I would say I’m mostly electronica synth rock pop. I don’t like to be one thing! I think it’s because for so long I’ve been told ‘stick to a genre’, ‘you’re too confusing to market’ or ‘people don’t know what you do!’ I don’t care! I grew up with artists that made their whole brand transformation for art, why should I be any different just because I’m an unknown? Never sacrifice yourself or your art for success because later down the line you will feel trapped and unsure of who you are. I always say I want to be like marmite, (or mustard! Wink wink), you either love me or hate me! I don’t want people to listen to me and go ‘yeah she’s ok’.
11. What’s next for GIGSY?
What’s next for GIGSY is… more music! Volume Two comes out on the 6th of October, with a remix EP following soon after (date TBA) where I collab with other indie artists on reworkings of MODESTA tracks. I’ve got a few gigs lined up also in the next week, so will be fun! Then I may TRY and hold off till next year on releasing my next project (which yes I have already begun, I told you I never stop!) But maybe a little single here and there to keep my fans (hi mum & dad) fed! But what I’m currently working on is… very different. Again!
12. Where can readers listen to your music?
You can find me on all streaming platforms! YouTube, Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Tidal… you name it, I’m there! You can find all my links on my linktree which is always in my bio on my socials!
Instagram – @iamgigsy
Tiktok/Twitter/Facebook – @gigsymusic