Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Connecticut’s Esmer. Together we discussed their favorite grocery store, their songwriting process, their recent EP “Rotten”, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you?
2. According to your Spotify profile, you never saw ya rot. What are some things that you have seen?
Last month, I saw a dude in Target in a Cat in The Hat costume. He was wearing Jordan Bred 4’s and he looked fly as fuck.
3. Your Instagram profile cites you as located in a grocery store. Do you have a favorite grocery store? A favorite aisle?
I’ve really been messing with Shoprite recently. Bakery aisle goes hard as hell.
4. Mustard wonders when did you begin making music. Who are some of your biggest influences?
I started writing in middle school but have been producing since sophomore year of high school! I was more of an amateur poet before a songwriter, but I eventually started turning my poems into short raps and ballads. My first instruments were the piano and ukulele at a very young age, but I’ve been playing guitar (my favorite) since 3rd or 4th grade. After, I just picked up a bunch of instruments like bass and drums in high school. Inspiration wise, I look up to the likes of Brockhampton, Keshi, Biggie, Dijon, Frank Ocean and Rich Brian.
5. What song or album had a significant impact on you?
Drive Safe by Rich Brian. That song makes me feel less lonely in my aspirations. He raps about some pretty vulnerable stuff, talking about going against the grain as a young musician. At the time, I listened to that song non stop when I was working on Rotten. I’d listen all the time while I was working at the café as a barista.
6. What is your songwriting process?
It always usually starts off with a voice memo. Something catchy and memorable and then I apply whatever situation I’m going through to it. I don’t try to force the lyrics and just wait for a creative/vulnerable moment to finish the song in one go in my bedroom studio.
7. 2020 saw the release of your debut single “Peace of Mind.” What was the inspiration behind this single?
A girl. I wanted to make amends with myself and at the time, it had been months after talking to her. “Peace of Mind” was written for my own peace of mind and I wrote it the May after quarantine hit. The song’s about letting go and detaching myself from former obsession.
8. What sample was used at the beginning of “Good Girl?”
I searched up “Anime Girl Voice.” I was honestly experimenting with cool intro sounds, and the sample sounded so cool. It caught my friends off-guard and I decided to keep it haha.
9. How has social media helped you as an artist? What advice would you give to artists starting out?
Social media helped me find an audience to connect with. It’s been both beneficial and detrimental to me as an artist, as in the past I would look at numbers and likes and all that. Present day, I look at social media as a canvas for my art and whoever stumbles upon it can find my music! I would tell starting artists to build their unique appearance as an artist and not spam your audience. Post whatever you want and strive for authenticity! Combine music and aesthetic; I think those two go very well. Taking breaks from social media is good for your mental too; too much in your face can drive ya mad.
10. “Brown skin. Blonde hair. I can’t compare. Who fucking cares.” Could you elaborate more on this lyric and single?
As an introverted, shy, Filipino-American, making friends and socializing in middle school was difficult. For a minute, I wanted to drop my culture and adopt the traits of my white friends. In the song, I’m telling myself to stop comparing those around me and say “who fucking cares!”
11. Last month you released your debut EP “Rotten” featuring your single “Deathbed.” What do you consider to be rotten? Could you share more about the process of putting this EP together?
Toxic relationships, habits, and insecurities are rotten. When something rots, someone could automatically think, “Hmmm rotting’s a bad thing.” It has a very negative connotation and the message of the EP was to show that rotting ultimately renews life. I show this in the EP by starting off with a depressed mood in “Red Wine” and ending with “Hickory Eyes,” which has more of an uplifting tone to it. The entire month of September, my mental state was up and down because I would stay up to 4 AM on school nights mixing and mastering the five songs. I wouldn’t take it back for anything though. Red Wine is about growing up near alcoholism and feeling like an imposter in your body. Hickory Eyes is about a girl I caught feelings for in college and gaining the ability think for myself. Every song is about a chapter in my life!
12. You recently performed with artists such as Nehway, Tyler Goldchain, and Alliyah Scott at the MAC in Milford. Was this your first time performing with these artists? Could you share more about this community?
I performed with Tyler at a backyard show organized by Luke McDoozy in 2021. I was inspired in high school by Tyler’s music and remembered wanting to do the same thing, performing and whatnot. He’s an incredible guy. Meeting Nehway and Alliyah was amazing; the energy they brought to the stage last week was bone-chilling. Seeing rising artists alongside me keeps pushing me to share my art with the world. The community in the New Haven area is a unique and abundant one. There’s so much freedom and healing in expressing our music and I get to do it all with my friends 🙂
13. What is something about the Connecticut music scene that may surprise someone?
It’s been under wraps. It’s about to go off. It’s been growing under a culmination of gifted artists who deserve more recognition, and will soon receive it in due time! There’s photographers (shoutout Dean), producers, fashion designers, and promoters who are slowly cultivating something big.
14. What is next for Esmer?
I’m focusing on finishing college, but at the same time I’m producing more songs than ever before. It’s funny, my focus is going more towards music right now and I’m actually struggling in a lot of my classes right now. But I’m working on editing and filming visuals for them at the moment. Most importantly, I’m prioritizing keeping my mental in check and aiming to collaborate with more New Haven artists in the next year.
15. Where can readers listen to your music?
Everywhereeeeee! Spotify, Apple Music, even mf iHeartRadio!