Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Crimea’s Mlkshk. Together we discussed their name, their creative process, how colors influence their music, and much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Hey Mustard, all is well and I’m very happy to chat with you!
2. You are a PHD candidate in friendship. What sets you apart from the other candidates? When will you know you’re admitted?
I believe my qualifications and skills leave little to no room for competition. After all, I already have a bachelors in kindness, a masters in bad jokes, and I’m currently completing a certificate in long-distance friendship because I moved abroad recently. Admissions operate on a case-by-case basis as some PhD examiners can be harsh!
3. As a food product Mustard really digs your name. Is there a specific milkshake that inspired your name? What is your favorite milkshake?
If I was a milkshake, I’d definitely be the blue one with whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, and a cherry on top. Coming up with a name was not an easy task, but when I thought of Mlkshk, I was just like “oh yeah, that fits”.
4. You’re Crimean-born and based in Prague. How does your environment help inspire your music?
My music is heavily inspired by visual elements such as memories and landscapes. I grew up in Crimea and the environment was pristine in its own way, sort of timeless. I was a goofy kid and my childhood was kaleidoscopesque, hence the synths and somewhat dreamy atmospheres. Then I moved to Switzerland and more recently Prague where I’m trying to be an adult. Prague has a different landscape and “sound”, which inspired the live set I’m currently working on.
5. Who (or what) influences you?
My biggest influence is STRFKR. I’ve discovered them on Last.fm when I was in my early teens and it was love at first listen. Their music is very colourful and visual to me. The disemvoweling in my name is an allusion to them. Video games and visual art also have an influence on my music. If it has a landscape, shape or colour combination that I like, chances are I’ll want to translate it into music.
6. What is your creative process?
When I start writing a track, I usually have a mental image of some sort, and one feeds into the other. Usually, it’s all the sounds combined but it can also be one single sound, like the main synth sound in Yula that sounds like a yula, a traditional Russian spinning toy. Having a mental image definitely helps with lyrics and I try to put what I see into words. On the other hand, if I randomly hear a melody while looking at or thinking about something, I’ll sing it and record it on my phone so I can go back to it later.
7. Mustard wonders what is your favorite color. How does this color help influence your sound?
My favourite colour is lilac. It’s mellow, soft, and I want to wrap myself in it. Lilac is obviously a dreamy colour and I hear a lot of it in my tracks. Funnily enough, it’s not present as a single colour in the way I see piano keys and chords where everything is colour-coded, but rather is a result of two or many keys/colours/sounds played together.
8. Imaginary places help inspire your music. What does your ideal imaginary place look like? What does it have?
A lot of colourful squiggly shapes, funky-looking animals, syrupy shores, and lilac snow.
9. April of last year you released Dust. What was the inspiration behind this single?
I wrote Dust for my best friend who is no longer here. He’s had a great impact on my life and I often think about him, hence the lyrics. We spent a lot of time talking about music and he encouraged me every time I sent him a draft. I wish he was still here to see I had finally started releasing my music, partly thanks to him.
10. Earlier this year you released your album “Teal Sofa Frequencies.” which is an absolute experience. Could you share more about putting this album together? Were these songs made on a teal sofa?
Everything was written, recorded, and produced on my teal sofa in Switzerland indeed! I don’t particularly have any extra money to book a studio session or even hire a mastering engineer, so I’m forced to put my audio engineering degree to use. I can’t even say I would have preferred it the other way around because I’m so used to the fact that it’s usually me and music and no one else. As for the tracks, they lie somewhere on the kid – adult spectrum, with both silly themes such as my dog Tchaikovsky and more afflicting themes such as longing for home. It represents well my last few years spent in Switzerland.
11. Realms Volume 1 is your latest release. How do you plan to expand on this EP?
Realms Vol. 1 is dedicated to games and playfulness. As mentioned before, Yula refers to a particular toy I often played with as a child, while Temples and Honey refer to particular video game levels. I think of them as little audio postcards and plan on writing more volumes. Realms Vol. 1 is also my only instrumental release and upcoming volumes will stay instrumental as well.
12. What is next for Mlkshk?
I’m currently working on a live set I’m hoping to play here in Prague. The live set is actually called “Praha” and depicts the way I see the city, particularly during nighttime. It’s more minimalistic and maybe darker than the rest of my music. I’m also planning on releasing some bits of the live set as individual tracks in the following weeks.
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
My music is available on all platforms (a little link wouldn’t hurt: https://linktr.ee/mlkshk_music) and I will be forever grateful if you listen to a track or two! You can also support me by treating yourself with a track or gifting it to a loved one on Bandcamp.
Thanks so much for having me!