Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Minnesota’s Lumpy. Together we discussed their dream lump, their creative process, signing with Ska Punk International, their upcoming album “Burn The Page”, and so much more!
1. Mustard would like to welcome you to Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Hello Mustard! I’m honored to speak with one of my favorite condiments so thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
It seems that you’re coming in hot with a very personal yet broad question. There are many facets of my mind and physical experiences that I could delve into from the day, but I think I would like to keep it light n’ tight and let you know that I am doing well. Thank you for asking! How are you?
2. You’ve been tasked to describe yourself in two sentences. How would you describe yourself?
An empathetic, soul-searching creature, that has a lot of love to give and tends to express themself through creativity. One who finds humor in most things, wants to be happy and active, and explores their curiosity of as many aspects of the human experience as possible.
If I were allowed a third sentence I would probably include something about my preference of spreadable over squirtable mustard.
3. If you could have a lump of anything, what would it be?
There are so many things to consider when choosing a single lump of something. I think I would lean towards wanting a single lump of more lumps. This hypothetical may be the equivalent of having a genie and not being able to wish for more wishes, but I DON’T EVEN CARE.
4. You write, record, produce, and mix songs. Could you share with us your creative process?
My creative process, as it pertains to music, tends to constantly change and evolve. Typically, I’ll have a melody/melodies in my head. I tend to write songs on piano, so I’ll use that to figure out how I want to support that melody. I’ll parse all those ideas out into instrumentation and start tracking the song from there. After I get an entire song structure or all the parts worked out, I’ll start thinking about lyrics and vocal melodies. After I track some version of vocals, I’ll go back and reassess all the music for parts that are no longer needed, things missing, or any additional arrangement of the song. I’ll work through all that, then I start thinking about the overall mix and production of the song. The order of this process rarely stays the same and is more dependent on the song or project that I am working on, but these are the typical elements of my process.
5. In addition to being a musician and producer, you also build things. What are some of the favorite things you have built? Have you ever built a music shelf?
Over the last 6 years I have remodeled my house. I have built a staircase, a bathroom, a music studio, walls, ceilings, a deck, closets, many other things. As accomplished as I feel and as proud of that project as I am, I wouldn’t classify any of those things as my “favorite” build. I have built some mirror frames, benches, and a plant table which were all fun to make. I certainly did build a music shelf from some scrap cedar for my vinyl collection (I thought that’s why you were interviewing me??) I’m currently working on converting an old radio console into a liquor-type cabinet. I’m having fun trying to figure that one out, so maybe that’s my favorite so far even though it’s not complete.
6. It is clear from your Instagram and 2010 album “From Wilderness Cove” that nature is very important to you. If you could be anywhere in nature, where would you be?
My favorite place is New Mexico. I used to live there and it’s a part of the world that means so much to me. Without getting too philosophical, I feel more at peace with myself there than anywhere else, a large part of it I can attribute to the natural beauty and the ability to disappear and be one with nature there. It’s inspiring, it’s healing, it’s exciting, and it feels like home. I recorded From Wilderness Cove while I was living in the foothills of Santa Fe.
7. What is your creative process?
Outside of music, I think my creative process is often based around problem solving. I will see something I want to accomplish, something I want to make or build, some wall space I want to fill, whatever it may be, and I try to figure out a creative solution to achieving the objective. Process is always flexible and I rarely set out with a path or structure for that process.
On the other end of the spectrum I am often drawing stream of conscious doodles and characters.
8. Mustard loved your cover on Ska Punk International’s Songs For Moms Volume 2. Could you share with us the significance of this song? Was this collaboration the start of your partnership with Ska Punk International?
Thank you, that is very kind!
I made that cover of Bob Dylan’s song about 10 years ago. I used to record cover songs for fun. Sometimes I get too close to my own songs and the process of making my own music, so covers are a great way to practice recording, mixing, production, and explore creative ideas with songs that aren’t mine and that I don’t obsess over. I was in talks with SPI about releasing my album before Songs for Moms 2 came out, Chris (SPI) came across that Dylan cover and asked if he could use it for the album.
9. It was recently announced that you officially joined the Ska Punk International family. How does it feel to be a member of Ska Punk International? Who do you hope to collaborate with on the label?
I have been writing and recording music for 27 years. 15 of those years I’ve been making Lumpy stuff. It’s my most natural creative output, but it’s always been a grind to try and get traction with people outside of friends and family. I’ve always believed other people may really like this, it’s just a matter of getting it to the right ears and the right people.
The fact that Ska Punk International liked my music enough to have me join the ranks, let alone want to help promote my music, is extremely exciting. I would have kept doing what I was doing regardless, but it is so rewarding to know that other people like and care about what I’m doing. It gives me a renewed energy for making music and finally feels like I’m making some progress.
In terms of collaboration with people on the label, I always love to collaborate and contribute to other people’s music. If anyone else on the label wants to work with me in any regard, I’d be thrilled to do so!
10. For those who have never listened to Lumpy, how would you describe your music?
This is always the question I struggle with. I think you can definitely hear the ska, reggae, and punk influences that I filled my informative years with, but I don’t know that it would be classified as such. There’s not much patience for describing music outside of genre titles and I haven’t put much energy into thinking about it. Melodies come to me most naturally, so my music is always very melody-centric and catchy. Because of that I would say it has pop-sensibility, with influences pulled from indie, reggae, ska, rock n roll, punk, and other usual culprits.
Maybe you can help me, Mustard, how would you describe it?
11. “Burn The Page” is your upcoming release on Ska Punk International. What can fans expect from this album?
It’s a very difficult album for me on many fronts. 90% was written from a place where I was the happiest and most excited about life I’ve ever been. I was at a tipping point for all these things I’d been working towards for a long time to finally come to fruition. All things I had invested my complete heart and soul into. Then life blindsided me and everything “I knew” was gone. All of a sudden I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been and at that time, I made the choice to trash the entire project. I had been working on it for 2 years and was going to throw away everything. Thankfully, after some time, I decided not to do that.
At this point I feel so removed from both ends of the emotional spectrum I wrote the music from. I now have trouble relating to the person I was when I wrote and recorded the songs, if that makes any sense.
Unexpectedly, I’ve found new meaning in some of the songs, like some sort of weird premonition in the lyrics. Then there are other songs that are practically unlistenable to me. I am very proud of the album, yet totally ready to move on from it and never listen to it again.
I hope people will be able to find the music helpful and relatable in some way. I think people can expect to be surprised by some of the compositions and hear different elements of the music each time they listen. I think there will be a familiarity with the overall sound but not necessarily sound like something you’ve heard before. It’s also an album that makes most sense musically when listened from front to back.
12. Could you share with us what page you would like burned? What book should the page be burned from?
“Pages” that contain any sort of content (metaphorically or physically) which no longer serve you, positively contribute to your well-being, and that are out of your control, deserve the ol’ “flame to paper.” It’s a practice that may seem silly or that can be extremely difficult and emotional but it can do a lot to help process and let go.
13. Do all humans shower in the dark?
This all depends on if they have the lights off or their eyes closed. I do.
14. Where can readers listen to your music?
Lumpy is on all the usual streaming platforms.
Order the new album at www.skapunkinternational.com please!!
You can see videos, stream stuff, check out upcoming gigs, and learn more about me and the music I’m a part of at www.lumpyrecordings.com
Twitter – @lumpyrecordings
Instagram – @oh_hey_lumpy
Youtube – lumpyrecordings