Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with actor and musician, Orval Hill. Together we discussed their multiple creative outlets, their creative process, their newest song “Nowhere”, and much more!


1. Mustard is thankful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?

I mean, I’m here. I’m good, usually when someone asks me this I often think to myself “Do I answer it honestly, or do I just answer it like ‘normal’ people and say I’m doing well at the moment.

2. Much like Mustard, you often refer to yourself in third person as Mr. Hill or O.V. When did this first begin? Has anyone questioned it?

Funny, nobody asked that question yet. It kinda just came with it when I started the whole Orval Hill thing. To me it’s all just ego, that’s all that hip hop is really. Sometimes you gotta sound as cocky as possible. I guess if you’re going to speak about yourself might as well make it sound funny/cool.

3. When you are not making music, you are an actor and writer. Could you share how you got into acting and writing? What do you typically write? How did this lead you to making music?

I fell in love with acting before I even knew I did. I would do simple read throughs in school when I was really young, reenact nearly every line in my favorite movies. I often felt like a loner at times as a kid so watching movies and tv became my outlet. Then by 16 I had the actual guts to get on stage and do my first show (Hairspray). 

Writing for me just happened. I think when you see the world differently then putting it into storytelling is the best way. Whether that’d be music, screenwriting, stage-plays, etc. Literally everyone has a story to tell. 

4. Who (or what) influences you?

My immediate go to answers are always gonna be Eminem and Childish Gambino. Slim Shady’s jokes on drug use and his relationship with certain people in his family, that’s what you hear in almost all of my music. Donald Glover’s upbringing, being a black urban kid admiring nerdy stuff, we’re almost identical. 

But I think it goes a bit deeper than that. It’s the universe itself. Again, EVERYONE has a story to be told, whether it’d be fiction or non-fiction. I look at it like, I won’t be here forever, none of us will. Why not share stories and get to entertain each other. Let’s make each other laugh, make each other cry. Let’s get to know each other. Maybe we’ll get to know ourselves better while we’re at it. 

5. Is there a song or album that played an significant role in your life? Could you share more?

Some of the closest moments I had with my dad growing up would be listening to Stevie Wonder’s Songs to the Keys of Life album. That would usually be our downtime. I don’t always remember where we were going, but we’d always play that particular album from start to finish.

6. What is your creative process? How does songwriting differ from screenwriting?

I never really “write songs” in a traditional sense. It always starts with a catchy metaphor, it could be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever said or anyone has ever heard, and I’ll just build the rest of the song around that (as far as lyrics goes). Sometimes I may hear a hot beat, may sit and listen to it for a week straight, possibly even two weeks before I even write anything.  

They’re both the same as far as storytelling goes. Screenwriting you have to think not only as yourself, but as your characters. Writing a script could start off with almost everything but dialogue. I think the most important thing is to just write whatever comes to mind. You can always go back and change things. Just write something.

7. In 2021 you released your debut EP “High Anxiety” along with a short film “Insomnia.” Could you share more about the process of putting both of these projects together? How did you balance each?

Funny, I never really felt like I expressed my mental health issues until those projects came out. I had been working on the EP since 2019, recording and rerecording songs. Then the world shut down in 2020. Everyone was losing it, politically, economically. Mental health was something that I think almost everyone could relate to. I myself got put on two different forms of medication just to keep from going over the edge. But I thought the timing was nearly perfect. If I was gonna put any projects out and the world is about to come to an end, might as well be something everyone can be a part of. 

8. Mental Health is a motif throughout your music. Why is it important that humans take care of their mental health? How do you like to take care of your own?

Bell Biv Devoe said “Everything is mental”. That’s with everything. When my mental health shuts down I literally just feel like a walking corpse. Once you figure out how to get your mental well being under control, then your physical being will follow. In a musical sense, I’d kinda like to break stigma. Guys like 2pac, Biggie, guys like Juice Wrld were all important because they weren’t afraid to speak about what was on their hearts, what it was that was eating away at them. As men in particular, it’s important not to keep everything bottled up inside. I watched my dad go out there into the world and work like crazy doing hands on jobs my whole life. But now that I’m older I think, “Man, how often is everyone checking up on these men to see how they’re mental health is?”  

For me it depends on what projects I’m doing. I may be working on music for a month, maybe two, and just stay isolated while I work on that. Then once I’m ready to be social again, I’ll go and get ready for my next acting audition. Spend the next eight weeks or so with a cast full of people, then once that ends, go back into hiding so I can work on my music again.

9. What is your favorite episode of Boys Meet World?

“Cory’s Alternative Friends” in season one! As a kid, I think seeing Cory and Topanga have their first kiss similar to how I had mine, in the most awkward situation ever, I think that was the first couple I saw on tv thinking “Wow it’d be cool to have someone”.

10. Mustard had the pleasure of reviewing your latest single “Nowhere.” What was the inspiration behind this single?

That song pretty much sums up what it’s like dating nowadays. It’s really not even dating, more like just having liaisons. For the video, I wanted to make sure both sides were held accountable. Visually you may only see me at fault, dating two girls at once, but notice in the opening verse how I said “Last night I was out with my girlfriend, she came over the same night from her boyfriend’s…” so it’s not just the guys out here doing dirty. One girl my character only had over at night for fun, the other we were taking fun day trips together, but in the end I still just ended up alone. 

11. A human gets invited to see Orval Hill perform. How would you describe your show? What can they expect?

I remember seeing Childish Gambino live in 2018, he was saying how it was meant to be an experience rather than just another concert. I don’t want my shows to just be you having a chance to hear what I sound like in a live setting. I want you to remember me in a larger sense. It can’t just be another hip hop show. I wanna feel free and loose while I’m on stage. If that means climbing through the rafters, jumping from the speakers, then so be it. Hip hop is the idea, rock is the attitude, soul is the spirit.

12. What is next for Orval Hill?

Literally everything. More music, music videos, short films, theatre shows, etc. I’d like to even surprise myself and see what I come up with.

13. Where can readers listen to your music?

You can find me everywhere from Spotify to Apple Music, YouTube as well if you’d like to see any music videos and short films I post. Feel free to even Google me!

One thought on “A Conversation with Orval Hill

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