Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with California’s Margeaux Lynn. Together we discussed journalism, their songwriting process, Nicholas Cage, their newest single “Ottoman California”, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you?
I’m great! I just turned 26 and I’m glad my new song is out in the world.
2. You’re a journalist by trade. Some humans within society like to lessen journalist’s work as “fake” or “illegitimate.” What do you think can be done to improve media literacy? How can society cut through the noise?
I think the criticism of news being “fake” is a valid one in certain situations and there are definitely flaws in media culture. But I like to remind people that while “the media” invokes an image of a faceless, giant, evildoing machine, it’s actually made up of a sea of thousands of individuals across the world writing about thousands of different subjects. Journalists make mistakes sometimes, but I will always argue that the heart of the craft is good. We are just people doing our best.
3. How does journalism differ from songwriting? What is your process for both?
There’s definitely a thread that connects journalism and songwriting. Both involve writing and being creative. When I’m writing songs, I try to be truthful and honest just as I would while writing a story. I actually prefer to write songs that are true stories — or at least based on true stories — because I find it easier and more authentic to write what I know.
4. What is your songwriting process?
I usually start with an idea for a lyric and write the song as a poem first, but I play guitar at the same time to get the chords and the melody to match up with the cadence of the verses. The hardest part is killing your darlings and remembering that cadence trumps poetry — that if the words don’t work rhythmically with the song, they have to go even if they sound really cool as a poem.
5. You must bring one Nicholas Cage movie with you on a stranded island. What movie do you bring and why?
Oh my God, I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me about his movie. It’s called Grand Isle. It came out in 2019 and it is frankly ridiculous, but I love it so much. Nicolas Cage’s character has some of the most outlandish lines of dialogue I’ve ever heard of in a movie. Nicolas Cage has so many incredible movies though, it’s hard to pick just one. Earlier this year I interviewed him for the cover of MovieMaker Magazine where I work, so I watched a lot of them. My other favorites are Knowing, Leaving Las Vegas, Joe, and, of course, National Treasure.
6. The spirit of Laurel Canyon can be heard through your work. Could you share more about what Laurel Caynon means to you?
I have a tattoo on my left arm from the cover of Joni Mithcell’s 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon, which she made when she was living in a house that happens to be just down the street from my boyfriend Dash Hutton’s family recording studio. He produced Ottoman California, and I’d drive right by Joni’s old house every time I would go to the studio. I had the tattoo before I ever met my boyfriend and I always dreamed of visiting Laurel Canyon, and now it’s like a second home to me. It has so much history, but the coolest thing about that neighborhood is that new musical history continues to be made there every day.
7. Who are some of your favorite modern poets? How do they inspire your work? What is your favorite kind of poetry? Could you share an example?
My favorite modern poet is my friend Sophia Anfinn Tonnessen. She’s been inspiring me to write my own poetry since we met at poetry camp in high school. But other than her, I don’t follow many modern poets except for Lana Del Rey. My favorite poets are all from several decades ago, and most of them are songwriters, like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. But my all-time favorite poet is Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I found a copy of his collection “A Coney Island of the Mind” for a dollar at a flea market and it’s one of my most cherished possessions. One of my favorites from that collection is “Junkman’s Obbligato.” Here’s the first little bit:
Empty our pockets
Missing all our appointments
And turning up unshaven
Old cigarette papers
stuck to our pants
leaves in our hair.
Let us not
worry about the payments
Let them come
and take it away
whatever it was
we were paying for.
And us with it.”
8. Mustard listened to John Mayer’s “St. Patrick’s Day” and developed the human emotion sadness. What does this song mean to you?
It means everything. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a John Mayer stan and I have been since the first grade. “St. Patrick’s Day” is one of my favorites from “Room For Squares,” which is my favorite album of all time. He’s such a storyteller and he’s so, so good at creating nostalgia. My favorite songwriter of the 21st century, hands down.
9. Last week you released your debut single “Ottoman California.” What was the inspiration behind this single?
I started writing that song in September when everyone was starting to post about doing fall things on Instagram, but it was still hot as heck in Los Angeles. I’m from Rhode Island where there is actual fall, but here it’s just kind of lackluster to me. Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer the warmth, but I get kind of sad every fall because I miss that crispy leaf thing. I wanted to be able to wear sweaters without sweating bullets all day. So I wrote a song about it and vowed to release it before fall was over, which I somehow managed to do thanks to Dash.
10. Hollywood is haunted. Do you know who or what haunts Hollywood?
Lana Del Rey, who lives inside the H of the Hollywood sign.
11. What is on the horizon for Margeaux Lynn?
Writing more songs and releasing some next year…
12. Where can readers listen to your music?