Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Connecticut’s Kelaska. Together we discussed their hometown of Plainfield, their favorite cover, their latest single “autopilot”, and so much more!
1. Mustard is thankful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Hello Mustard, I am happy to be doing this interview! Thank you for having me, I’m having a pretty good day! Hope yours is going well too.
2. What was your relationship with music growing up?
Growing up I was always very in love with singing. I didn’t really play any instruments but when I was 8 my parents brought home a karaoke machine and I forced my friends to sing with me everyday for years. My whole family is into music one way or another so I was definitely influenced by them, as well.
3. Is there a song or album that has made a significant difference on you? Could you share more?
Great question! How do you choose? The first real obsessions I had growing up were Ashlee Simpson and Good Charlotte. I would listen to their debut albums on repeat every moment of every day and wish I had their careers. I was also so envious of Christina Aguilera’s voice growing up. I wanted to sing like her so badly when I was eight, haha. But overall I’d say some of the biggest impacts for me have been Alanis Morissette, Death Cab for Cutie, Katy Perry, Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles (of course!)
4. What is your songwriting process?
The songwriting process is different for every song. Sometimes I will work on making a fun track first with my producer and then write to it after, other times I will write something and then create an atmosphere around that. I usually prefer to have a melody and lyrics before I create the production because those songs tend to be more cohesive to who I am or feel as an artist. I’m always more proud of those songs, like “Long Way Home,” “autopilot,” or “Springsteen.”
5. Eight years ago you posted your first cover on YouTube. What was your goal at the time of this cover?
I never really thought anything of the first cover I put up. It’s so awful! It’s shot on my webcam photobooth app and I think I did it in one or two takes. I didn’t really intend for anything to come of it, I just thought it would be fun to put up. I started to get a lot of fun and nice feedback from it and that sparked me to continue it for six years or so.
6. Do you have a favorite cover you’ve done? Is there a song you will not cover?
Another great question! I think I’d have to say either “Breezeblocks” by alt-J or “This Music Be The Place” – by Talking Heads. Out of the six years I made covers, 95% of them were requests or done because they were popular and would give me a little more exposure. These were two songs that I didn’t really expect to do much, but were more for me because I really wanted to cover them. As for songs I would never cover? I know when Frozen came out there were a lot of people requesting “Let it Go” and I refused. Either that one or “Shallow” from A Star is Born. Both just kind of got on my nerves and the thought of singing them over and over until I got a good take seemed like torture. Other than those I try to sing as many cover requests as I can, it’s pretty rare that I reject one, even if I’m not a fan of the song.
7. You are from Plainfield, Connecticut. Is plain field an accurate description of the town?
Haha, I guess maybe it’s a little accurate for a name. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flat, there are a lot of hills and trees. It’s a pretty typical small New England town, visually.
8. In the 19th century Plainfield thrived as a part of the industrial industry. If you could write a song about a product to be manufactured, what would it be about and why?
You know, another great question. I’ve lived here my whole life and never really thought/knew/or learned about anything industrial coming out of here. Maybe shoes? But only because of that scene in Jumanji where he puts a shoe on the conveyer belt on accident and it tears it to shreds. I could get behind the heartbreak of that.
9. You’re being dragged in on “Smother Me.” What was dragging you at this time? What was the inspiration behind this single? How did it feel to see it amass over 1 million streams?
“Smother Me” is one of the songs I wrote after creating a track. I was visiting my producer at the time, Steven Martinez, in Nashville and we started to put together some fun sounds. We recorded some breathing to the beat and thought it would be cool if the lyrics had something to do with that idea. I had the title “Smother Me” in my head and decided to write around that. I mostly wrote it about anxiety and that feeling of immense pressure when it hits you hard. I do think that it can also play like a bad relationship you’re in that you can’t get out of, as well. It’s weird because out of all of my songs I do think that one makes the most sense that it would have hit a million first. It’s the most mainstream sounding and at the time that dark pop sound was pretty popular, so I always imagined it would do well. It didn’t really take off for another year after the release though and that caught me off guard. I thought it would hit 100,000 but never even dreamed 1 million. I think I still have some imposter syndrome about it.
10. As a condiment Mustard wonders what is your preferred condiment/syrup to smother your food in?
I think I have to give it to cheese for this one. I could put twenty pieces of cheese on a burger/sandwich/pasta/anything and that would be heaven. There’s no such thing as too much. Also a big fan of the controversial mayonnaise. If it wasn’t so bad for you I would get extra extra on everything. Oh and if we’re going sweet? Extra, extra, extra, extra, extra hot fudge.
11. When a human has a fever it often is a cause for concern. But on your track “September” it is positive. Is having a potential fever a sign of romantic interest within human society? Was this song inspired by an actual human in your life?
Haha, I think it’s mostly just a metaphor for someone making you feel hot! Like when you get butterflies and start to feel warm and fuzzy thinking about the person or being around them. Or maybe for some they get nervous and sweaty because they don’t want to make a wrong move. It was inspired by my current boyfriend. The one and only love song I’ll probably ever write.
12. In November of 2022 you released your newest single “autopilot.” What was the inspiration behind this single?
“autopilot” was written about a depression I was going through and couldn’t seem to snap out of. I kept comparing myself to others and where I should be in life based on the society standards you constantly hear growing up. It felt very lonely because I don’t really have many people in my life who are on the same path as me. Sometimes it can easily feel like I’m behind or haven’t accomplished enough. Of course I know that social media is designed for people to present their best lives, but I still couldn’t shake that I should be doing more or better than I was. I’m still working on the self love thing, but I think that’s the answer to all of it. Just reminding myself everyday that there is no deadline and things will fall into place when they’re meant to.
13. What advice would you give to those who may also feel like they are on autopilot?
Mostly I would continue on about trusting yourself and knowing that it’s okay not to feel okay sometimes. It’s okay to wake up and “hate yourself” for a little bit as long as you can also be aware that those feelings will pass. Everyone feels like that sometimes, but you can’t dwell in it forever. You have to practice self love talks and try really hard to realize that you can do anything you set your mind to. We’re our own worst critics, so we need to try and be objective in these moments. Try to talk to yourself as gentle and patient as you would your best friend in the same situation. Try journaling, or going for a walk, or therapy, or really anything that helps get you some fresh perspective. Remember to feel what you need to feel and then let it go. You got this!
14. Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
My biggest interests outside of music are probably baking and watching tv shows. There’s absolutely nothing I love more than binging a new show I’m hooked on. I love a good mystery so anything that has twists and turns will suck me in. As for baking, I almost bought my own bakery years before I started Youtube. I was very close to pursuing that but things just didn’t line up right. I still love to bake at home any chance I get though. You need something for a party? A Wednesday night? Just because? Sign me up.
15. What’s next for Kelaska?
I keep saying year after year that I’m going to start playing gigs regularly, but I’m from a small town and I let my adhd get the best of me sometimes, or the government shutdown of the world, haha. I actually left my day job to start playing out and ironically the whole world shut down the same week. After that it was kind of hard to get the momentum back, but I think I’m there now and will at least start to sprinkle in a few gigs here and there next year. I also plan to keep releasing singles. I’m working on the next one, “Buzzkill,” at the moment and hoping for an early March release. Fingers crossed!
16. Where can readers listen to your music?
I’m on any platform you use to listen.. Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Tidal etc. There’s always Youtube if you prefer a good visual to the songs, as well!